I have written before about attempts by mostly leftist protestors to rewrite history by attacking monuments commemorating Confederate generals, Christopher Columbus, and now Father Junipero Serra, recently declared a saint by Pope Francis. I get very uncomfortable by anyone attempting to mess with the past. People believed and behaved differently in the past, and, yes, they were frequently racist. In fact, before a certain point in the Twentieth Century, everyone was a racist. That included my Mother and Father, whose memory I revere.
The current attempts to punish past racists remind me of a scene from Luis Buñuel’s film The Milky Way (La Voie Lactée), my favorite among his films. In one scene, the religious pilgrims view the exhumation of the body of an archbishop who, because it was discovered he had been a heretic, is to have his body burned. I sincerely doubt that the heretical bishop was discommoded in any way by the firing of his remains; and I doubt that the religious zealots viewing the exhumation and fire received any benefit therefrom. I feel the same way about the renaming of Fort Bragg, the pulling down of statues of Robert E. Lee and Junipero Serra.
Over the years, Martine and I have visited several of the California missions founded by Father Serra. We found them to be places of peace. We know for a fact that many of these missions included barracks for Spanish troops. If there were any depredations against native aborigines, they were conducted by soldiers and not Franciscan priests and monks. Were any of these Franciscans racists? Of course, they were Spanish—and that racism was endemic during that historical era.
Perhaps we should burn all our history books, after first admitting that all previous generations were tainted. Instead of rewriting history, perhaps we should burn all the books and create a mythical Edenic portrait of people who lived in the past and condoned slavery while admitting that all men were created equal. Maybe we should burn the people who who are toppling the statues. It makes me disgusted that I have liberal leanings!