May Day is May 1st in the United States

While hundreds of thousands demonstrated peacefully all over the globe for May Day yesterday, there was barely a mention of the international workers' rights holiday in the US media. Media coverage at home and abroad was generally negative:

"May Day Violence Mars Celebrations in Europe"
"Berlin Riots on May Day Leave 175 Police Injured, Cars Burnt"
"May Day crash in S. Africa kills at least 51, more feared dead"
"May Day abandoned in China"
Demonstrators turned out on every continent, marching in the streets of Baghdad, Havana, Berlin, Stockholm, Zurich, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Moscow, Tokyo, Rome, Seoul and Manila.

I suspect that many Americans have no idea what May Day signifies, or that its origins are American, not European. Thanks to general apathy and ignorance when it comes to historical perspective, most Americans went about their business on May 1, like it was just another Thursday.

Chris Durant from the Times-Standard in Eureka, California typifies Americans' ignorance:

The exact origins of May Day are debatable, with some websites claiming it was started by laborers in the 1800s in Australia and others pointing to ancient Celtic beginnings.

Most sources agree that it was first celebrated in the United States on May 1, 1886, by striking workers in Chicago.

Noam Chomsky points out that its understandable that we forget our own American history, especially when our government is intent on keeping it a secret:
The effectiveness of the state-corporate propaganda system is illustrated by the fate of May Day, a workers' holiday throughout the world that originated in response to the judicial murder of several anarchists after the Haymarket affair of May 1886, in a campaign of international solidarity with U.S. workers struggling for an eight-hour day.

In the United States, all has been forgotten. May Day has become "Law Day," a jingoist celebration of our "200-year-old partnership between law and liberty" as Ronald Reagan declared while designating May 1 as Law Day 1984, adding that without law there can be only "chaos and disorder."

The day before, he had announced that the United States would disregard the proceedings of the International Court of Justice that later condemned the U.S. government for its "unlawful use of force" and violation of treaties in its attack against Nicaragua.

"Law Day" also served as the occasion for Reagan's declaration of May 1, 1985, announcing an embargo against Nicaragua "in response to the emergency situation created by the Nicaraguan Government's aggressive activities in Central America," actually declaring a "national emergency," since renewed annually, because "the policies and actions of the Government of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States" -- all with the approbation of Congress, the media, and the intellectual community generally; or, in some circles, embarrassed silence. "