Statue of St. Serra vandalized, are Christian crosses next?
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It's unpopular to be a statue these days, as public monuments are being vandalized and destroyed to make social commentary. The vandalism has not been left to controversial monuments in the American South, but has now come to the Catholic Church with the vandalizing of a statue of Junipero Serra.
Are crosses next?
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- Vandals have spray-painted a statue of Junipero Serra at a park across the street from Mission San Fernando on Thursday. A photo of the vandalized statue has gone viral.
St. Serra's face, chest, and hands are spray painted red, and the word "murder" is written in white down his front. A Native American boy standing with him as part of the statue has red painted under his eyes and down his front as though he were crying blood. A swastika was also painted on the boy. It is unclear if the swastika was part of the original vandalism, or done shortly afterwards.
The statement is to suggest that St. Serra was a participant in the genocide of Native Americans by Europeans.
St. Serra, who was recently canonized by the Church, is a controversial figure for some who associate him with the tragedies that befell Native Americans during the European conquest of the American continents.
While the public appears to be in a frenzy over controversial statues, St. Serra is a Catholic saint, and his statue is a religious icon. Of course, the non-religious do not appreciate this fact. Many locals condemned the act of vandalism, holding that the park is a public place for people to share, enjoy and take photos, an experience that is ruined by graffiti.
In the aftermath of the vandalism, there is discussion if the statue should be moved to a museum to protect it.
There is a growing movement afoot to sweep distasteful moments and people out of history. While objective history is static, it is often clouded by time and perception. History is constantly being revised as political and social attitudes change. The heroes of one time and place are often villains in another.
The problem is not so much the removal of a statue to a museum, but rather the question of where does the revisionism end? After the statues, what next? The names of streets, buildings, and cities? Should the money be reprinted to avoid any association with slavery? Should the Constitution be discarded or rewritten because its authors were slaveholders? And who will write the new one?
History is filled with unpleasantness, just like the present. It is important to acknowledge the sins of the past, but it is also important to recognize that some of the same people also contributed great things to the world.
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Shall we write these people out of history, or only talk about their errors? Shall we deface all things we don't like? Should Christian statues be taken down? Then what will be next? The crosses of all Christians?
As for St. Serra, he was canonized only after the Church verified he had no connection to some of the infamous atrocities committed by Europeans prior to his arrival in California. There is no documentation that he ever abused any person, and he brought thousands of people to the Catholic faith, a faith that is enjoyed by their descendants to this day.
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