Google committed a deadly sin this Easter: it confronted fundamentalists with information.
For over a decade, Google has from time to time placed images that it calls “Doodles” on its homepage that coincide with a specific event in history. These ever-changing images often have the effect of introducing people to new and interesting historical information. This past Easter Sunday, Google ran an image of Cesar Chavez, the civil rights advocate, on the homepage as its doodle and started a fundamentalist frenzy. Many Google users misidentified the image of Cesar as the deceased Hugo Chavez.
Their complaints came from a fear that corporations and “the Left” are trying to isolate and eliminate Christian social ubiquity. Perceiving that Google’s choice to display Cesar Chavez as a choice to not display an Easter related theme on the site, Bing, because it displayed images of decorated eggs, became the poster-child of how a search site should have respected the holiday for these backwards-thinking individuals.
Who were they? They were many in number, though not very diverse in their presentation. Most expressed dismay with Google’s choice, claiming incorrectly that the picture was actually that of Hugo Chavez, and in turn exalting Bing as their new search engine of choice.
Though, a light may wait at the end of their tunnel-vision. Maybe these individuals were exposed to a presence outside of what they know and maybe a few will have to confront their intolerance. If this is true, Google succeeded and exposed them to something to which they have a strong aversion: new information.
In an interview with the Washington Post, a Google representative spoke in light of the controversy surrounding the search engine’s choice, “We enjoy celebrating holidays at Google but … it’s difficult for us to choose which events to highlight on our site … Sometimes … we feature an historical event or influential figure that we haven’t in the past.”
The fact that Google has featured Easter in the past is irrelevant to many in these groups, just like the fact that if you live in Easter Island or Chile, you wouldn’t have seen Bing’s pretty eggs either.