“Scrubbing” Our History

The recent disgraceful treatment of St. Junipero Serra’s memory reminds me of the main character in George Orwell’s prescient classic 1984 who worked in the Ministry of Truth. His particular job in that ministry was the constant revision of history to fit the official party line at any particular moment. The past was to be constantly readjusted so that it would always jive with the present political narrative. Welcome to our current Orwellian sequel, 2020. Today’s version of the Ministry of Truth goes by various names: Black Studies, Women’s Studies, or Native American Studies. These “truth ministries” are now a part of every major university. There, history is constantly being rewritten to fit a narrow, “victim – oppressor” narrative. Classroom study is further supplemented by disruptive activism (or virtual lab sessions) which includes pulling down or defacing monuments to any supposed “oppressor” from the past.

Fr. Serra, the great Franciscan missionary who founded nine missions up and down coastal California during the late 18th century, has been vilified and had statues vandalized and toppled amidst accusations of genocide and racism leveled against him. But the facts do not bear such charges out. Nearly 5,000 Christian Indian converts lived in relative security on mission lands because Fr. Serra fought diligently to protect them, not only from tribal enemies but also from Spanish civil authorities and colonists who, too often, cheated and brutalized the natives. Serra’s first sin, according to the identity politics view of history, was being a white European male who brought his Catholic faith to the indigenous peoples of California. He is charged with Christianizing pagan Indians, and for that grevious misdeed he will not be forgiven by modern day academics harboring deep hostility towards Christianity. Continue reading