Statues of Father Junipero Serra have been defaced this week in California. He’s the 18th-Century priest who led the establishment of missions in this state and purportedly resorted to cruel and unusual punishment of natives in order to construct buildings and foster allegiance to the Catholic Church. The history books of the past gloss over Serra’s negatives, instead, California is abound with schools and streets named after him. But now protesters want the country to rid itself of certain icons of the past who have been memorialized with public statues.
A “valuable” statue of Father Serra was removed yesterday by Carmel officials to protect if from harm–I found this out after asking why a police car had been parked all day by the Carmel Mission which has been closed during the pandemic. I took the above photo of the Father Serra statue in the mission’s garden.
Of course, I’ve been watching the news about statues of Confederate generals being toppled in various U.S. cities. Christopher Columbus has been a target along with Andrew Jackson. Public anger is one way to rewrite history. I have a very strong opinion that this nation’s history has many grim chapters unknown to a majority of its citizens. The good old days were packed with prejudice and violence, a fact typically not taught in schools which, of course, haven’t been open during the pandemic.
History is a vitally important subject for students, but how it is taught, especially to young minds, needs to be overhauled. I understand why people topple statues and that should be part of the lesson, not that they simply knocked something over, but what caused them to strike out at the past.
For today’s lesson I ask that you surf the internet for “Project 100,000,” another history chapter that doesn’t get taught. If you believe, as I do, in BLM, then ask that Project 100,000 get a mention in updated accounts of the Vietnam war and the role played by black Americans killed far from home.