For starters, it was Chavez’s birthday, and Easter isn’t a holiday that Google likes to celebrate. It’s not a holiday in Google’s book, even though it might be a day worth celebrating for religious Christians and Catholics. Easter has not been celebrated with a Doodle ever since the first and last time in 2000. Yes, we checked. There are Google Doodles for other religious holidays, including Christmas and even St. Patrick’s Day, but no Easter. Maybe it’s simply about keeping religion out of its Doodles – although omitting one of them seems arbitrary, but that’s Google’s prerogative.
But is there a deeper reasons why Cesar Chavez? (Important note, considering that the distinction seems to fall on deaf eyes and ears to some outraged weekend Googlers: Cesar Chavez and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez are not the same person. Cesar Chavez was the co-founder of the United Farm Worker’s Union, and a labor civil rights activist who died in 1993.)
One controversial theory points out Eric Schmidt’s political views and ties to Obama. The Daily Caller says that Obama proclaimed March 31 as “Cesar Chavez Day” back in 2011 (March 31st is also Chavez’s birthday) and ties Schmidt’s relationship with Obama and his being a “climate-change activist” to having a hand with the Doodle. We won’t get into the details, but The Atlantic picks apart The Daily Caller’s more conservative view, and rethinks Google’s agenda. The conclusion is that Google is using Chavez’s image to position itself as a corporation that cares about politics, an important statement and its political jockeying to get a better foothold leading up to inevitable public and political discussions in a future where politics and technology will clash more than it already has. Take, for instance, the type of drama that Google Glass will stir up.
There might be a legitimate claim to Google’s relationship with politics. Schmidt has been stirring up controversy with his visit to North Korea and Myanmar, although he has better things to do than oversee Doodles. But also it’s interesting to find that Google didn’t have a Google Doodle to its name on March 31, 2012. On March 31, 2011 (the first Cesar Chavez Day) Google celebrated “Robert Bunsen’s 200th Birthday.”
We reached out to Google for its side of the story, and its spokesperson replied to us with the comment, “We enjoy celebrating holidays at Google but, as you may imagine, it’s difficult for us to choose which events to highlight on our site. Sometimes for a given date we feature an historical event or influential figure that we haven’t in the past.”
Many didn’t react favorably to the Doodle, as they’re offended by Google choice to celebrate Chavez instead of “Christ.” Others claim to have boycotted Google and instead pledged their allegiance to Yahoo and Bing (which went a more traditional route with an Easter egg filled background), while some still continue to voice their discontent at the time of this writing. Our guess is Google will survive the “backlash.”