Sunday, July 12, 2020

In Defense of Saints and Statues

Michael Fiala/Reuters
The mob-led campaign to erase Father Junipero Serra illustrates the problem with the crusade against public monuments.
One of the arguments regularly circulating on social media in defense of razing statues is the rather mindless declaration that “statues aren’t history.”
Of course they aren’t. But none of us who opposes the indiscriminate destruction of public memorials by feckless mobs does so because we believe statues are history.
Our objection, rather, is to the willful ignorance of history exhibited by those who, under cover of night, topple monuments to great men and, in the light of day, justify their anarchy by ripping those men from their context and placing them on trial for their lack of 21st-century progressivism.
Statues need not be history for us to criticize this behavior.
But the problem with the anti-statue campaign isn’t a problem merely with mob rule as such. The urge to remove monuments as a means of absolving ourselves of certain parts of our country’s history has seeped into the ruling class, too, as politicians have begun to capitulate to the mob’s demands.
Consider the recent case of Father Junipero Serra, a Roman Catholic saint and a Franciscan friar who, as a missionary, founded the first nine Spanish missions in 18th-century California, teaching local tribes about Christianity and helping them to farm using modernized forms of agriculture.
Last month, during a riot in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, several hundred people knocked over a statue of Serra, along with monuments to Ulysses S. Grant and Francis Scott Key, before moving on to deface a bust of author Miguel Cervantes. On the same day, rioters in Los Angeles destroyed another statue of the saint.
On the Fourth of July, rioters in Sacramento attacked a third statue of Serra, burning its face before ripping down the monument and striking it with a sledgehammer while chanting “Rise up, my people, rise up” and dancing atop it.
These acts of pointless vandalism were later justified as having been carried out in the name of justice for the genocide of indigenous peoples — a genocide in which, thus far, no one has been able to implicate Father Serra.
Read the rest from Alexandra DeSanctis HERE.

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