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USS Cesar Chavez? The times they are a-changing

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus plans to officially announce the naming of a Navy cargo ship after labor activist Cesar Chavez. The same Cesar Chavez with Marxist and Communist ties and who called his time in the Navy "the two worst years of my life."

Well... at least they didn't pick the Hugo Chavez.

The Cesar Chavez will join the Lewis and Clark class of supply ships. Ships of this class are named after American explorers and pioneers:

  • Lewis and Clark, famous explorers
  • Sacagawea, interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark
  • Richard E. Byrd, naval officer and polar explorer
  • Alan Shepard, naval aviator and first American in space
  • Robert E. Peary, naval officer and first person to reach the North Pole
  • Amelia Earhart, aviation pioneer
  • Carl Brashear, the Navy's first black master diver (portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the film Men of Honor)
  • Wally Shirra, naval aviator and one of the Mercury astronauts
  • Matthew Perry, naval commodore that achieved the opening of Japan
  • Charles Drew, developed large-scale blood banks during World War II
  • Washington Chambers, pioneer of naval aviation
  • William McLean, developed the Sidewinder air-to-air missile
  • Medgar Evers, World War II veteran and assassinated civil rights activist

The namesakes of both Lewis and Clark-class ships named during the Obama administration (Medgar Evers and Cesar Chavez) may meet the dictionary definition of "pioneer," but their pioneering field was civil and labor rights - a departure from those of military-related fields. Naming ships after activists seems about as odd as naming a civil rights department after Chesty Puller.

There are many ways of recognizing the contributions of "pioneers" in non-military fields other than naming ships after them. Were there not any new government buildings they could have dedicated?

This administration seems to take full advantage of every opportunity to score political points while weakening their opponents. By naming the vessel after Chavez, they can appeal to their hispanic and labor constituency while giving critics an opportunity to marginalize themselves as xenophobic extremists. Or at least that is how I see it.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California suggested that Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta would be a better choice for the ship. Peralta was an immigrant from Mexico that earned his citizenship while in the Marine Corps, and was killed in Iraq in 2004 when he covered a grenade with his body in order to shield his comrades nearby.

A better solution would be to award Peralta the Medal of Honor as is typical of those who sacrifice themselves by absorbing a grenade blast, then the Navy could name a destroyer after him. After all, who lays on a grenade and thinks they will survive?

There are other ways of recognizing the efforts of civil and labor rights activists than naming ships after them, but what can we do? This is democracy in action - America elected a community organizer as commander-in-chief.