Several people have been shocked in checking to see whether a business or government office was open today and found, along with normal hours, a statement that hours might vary because it is Robert E. Lee's birthday in Arkansas. No mention of Martin Luther King Jr.
I've been sent notices today for the state motor vehicle office and a popular bakery run by a known liberal with the same legend. The readers presumed Lee was chosen by the business or office. I don't think so. I think it's Google at work.
It IS Robert E. Lee day in Arkansas, as well as Martin Luther King day. Lee got the recognition first, thanks to segregationists who apparently still hold the balance of power at the Capitol. Whether it's economy of letters or a gig at Arkansas that the Google search turns up only the mention of Lee, I can't say. But I'm pretty sure it's Google.
I demonstrate with these illustrations, asking Google, "Is the motor vehicle office open in Little Rock (Sacramento) today?" I also tried this with some well-known black businesses and, again, the Google summary said they might be closed for Lee's birthday. If Sims is closed, I'm willing to bet it isn't solely on account of Robert E. Lee.Google has apologized for displaying "Robert E. Lee's Birthday" instead of "Martin Luther King Day" in some business listings in three states including Alabama that recognize the confederate Civil War general's birthday as a holiday.
From an Alabama report:
"A Google spokesperson explained that the tech giant is working to fix the situation in a statement emailed to AL.com Monday afternoon.
"The holiday hours feature lets people know when a business could be closed or its hours could be different due to a holiday," the statement said. "Unfortunately, in the three states where Robert E Lee's birthday is recognized as well, the feature is not surfacing Martin Luther King Day as it should be. We apologize for any offense this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix this issue as quickly as possible."