Google Doodles: Redrawing American History
Doodle means to scribble absentmindedly. But Google Doodles are intentional iconography that attempt to redraw America’s great history. They elevate peripheral figures to iconic status and relegate religious holidays to amorphous greetings.
Google (now under the Alphabet umbrella) leverages its ubiquitous platform to doodle about holidays, anniversaries and famous people. Since about 26% of us are unsure from whom we got our independence; many believe that Karl Marx helped author the Constitution, and untold others cannot name our 3 major branches of government, they could provide a useful civic service.
Instead, the insular techies are enmeshed in Silicon Valley’s progressive orthodoxy, choosing to superimpose today’s mores on yesteryear while ignoring many heroic figures and religious holidays that weave together the grand tapestry of American history. Contrary to their claims, Google Doodles more often celebrate obscure anniversaries and niche figures, retroactively applying modern leftist sensibilities tainted by sexism, multiculturalism, secularism, environmentalism and racialism. Let’s take a look.
On March 16, 2016, Google celebrated the 266th birthday of astronomer Caroline Herschel. By all accounts she was diligent, but her brother, Sir William Herschel, was more consequential in the field. Indeed, Encyclopedia Britannica describes Caroline as his “faithful assistant.” Even though William worked tirelessly to develop a natural history of the heavens, you won’t find a Google Doodle of him.
Amelia Earhart (who failed spectacularly) was celebrated by Google on July 24, 2012, but in the Google Doodle archives it’s Charles Lindberg who has gone missing. I hate that he was sympathetic to the Nazis, but Google can be controversial and I suspect his omission has more to do with the sexist culture amongst the Google Doodlers whose communications officer is a Krisztina Radosavljevic-Szilagyi, whose online social profile ominously proclaims that she’s a “social action” protagonist.
On February 22, 2016, Google doodled the 161 year anniversary of a Serbian women doctor whose name has syllables reminiscent of Krisztina’s: Draginja Ljocic Milosevic – at least it’s not hyphenated. Draginja was also a women’s rights protagonist, but surely the American Susan B. Anthony is more deserving. If Google were intent on providing a public service faithful to our history, they’d spotlight Anthony with a doodle since a majority of Americans can’t identify her as a founder of the Women’s Rights movement.
Google says their Doodles celebrate famous people, so it’s incongruous that they would dredge up an unknown Serbian doctor -- who never even invented any vaccines -- as a poster girl for women’s rights. The obvious answer – that it appeared only on Webpages in Serbia – is untrue.
Google also claims to celebrate holidays with its Doodles. Holy Moly, what are they putting in their holiday eggnog? Even though Christmas has been a federal holiday since 1870, we’re always greeted with a generic “Happy Holidays.” Their doodling started in 1998 – that’s 19 years of avoiding “Merry Christmas.”
In a nod to multiculturalism, I’m sure the clever artists at Google/Alphabet could contrive to combine Christian and Jewish traditions. Even many of the Jewish faith appreciate the glorious Nativity scene, and are content to see it beside the menorah in public. Yet you’ll find neither in the Google Doodle archives.
Infamously, Google chose Cesar Chavez on Easter Sunday in 2013. There was an outcry, and Google’s defenders responded that there was an Easter portrayal back in 2000. Once! If once is enough for this glorious holiday, why do they resurrect “Women’s Days,” including the last 6 consecutive years? I think I smell “social action” Krisztina again.
If one doodle is enough to celebrate Easter Day, why do they foist upon us a bunch of Earth Days ? Take your pick from this list for any number of suitable substitutes to clean up Google’s smog.
Of course we all want our environment to remain as pristine as possible, but 16 Earth Day celebrations during the 19 year history of Google Doodles is pollution. Unsurprisingly, Google is onboard the man-made Climate change bandwagon; indeed, the whithouse.gov press office reveals that Google is “Providing Vast Cloud Computing Resources to Spur Creation of High-Resolution Drought and Flood Mapping, Apps, and Tools for Climate Risk Resilience”
We all agree that while promoting economic development and creating good paying jobs that we must also protect our pale blue dot that hovers majestically in the vast void of space. But 16 Earth Day Doogles? That hardly reflects their mandate of being “fun, surprising and sometimes spontaneous”; rather, it bespeaks their political agenda, reinforced by their contributions.
Not many would begrudge MLK his Google Doodle. Actually, he has 12, which is far more than for all the U.S. Presidents combined. I couldn’t actually find many Google Doodles celebrating President’s Day, but I don’t want to definitively accuse them of gross negligence in case their search engine algorithms are absentminded.
Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman: let’s be magnanimous and concede they both deserve a Google Doodle. But Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation and is generally considered one of our greatest presidents, is omitted. Riddle me this, riddle me that…it’s just confounding.
There are many examples, but here’s another bizarre choice that wreaks of both racialism and multiculturalism. On April 15, 2016, Google’s Doodle highlighted Samuan Samadikun’s 85th birthday. Apparently he’s a bright scientific mind from Indonesia who specialized in electrical engineering. But brighter or more influential than the plethora of great American electrical engineers, including Charles F. Kettering who holds 186 patents? Sorry, Charles, even though you gave so much back through your eponymous Kettering Foundation, you just sound too American to be recognized by Google.
Don’t know much about history:
I’m not sure whether Google should be intermixing business with iconography, but they like Earth Day so much they could at least remind us about the people and events that made America the “last best hope of earth.” We need it, since about 1/3rd of us would fail a naturalization test.
Google’s Doodles aren’t absentminded; they aren’t even spontaneous fun. They don’t celebrate our religious holidays with relish nor emphasize our American luminaries. They are deliberate, agenda-driven, social action propaganda that apologizes for American greatness. As Google parent Alphabet has surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable company, the old question “does Google hate America?” deserves a huge doodle