‘The start of a new era’: Iconoclasts rewarded with an Indian statue after tearing down statue of Christian missionary | Blaze Media


The iconoclasts who unlawfully torched and toppled the Sacramento statue of a historic Spanish missionary in 2020 were rewarded Tuesday with a substitute evidently palatable to those antipathetic to the region’s Christian heritage.

Where the statue of Junípero Serra once stood now stands the likeness of Miwok elder William J. Franklin, an Indian elder known in some circles for preserving traditional dances.

Jesus Tarango, the chair of the Wilton Rancheria tribe in Sacramento County, said, “Today’s unveiling signifies the start of a new era here in California at our state Capitol — one where we stop uplifting a false narrative and start honoring the original stewards of this land,”
reported the Associated Press.

Despite Tarango’s insinuation that the truth has prevailed, the initiative to replace the Serro statue appears to have been largely premised on blood libels and falsehoods.

What’s the background?

Junípero Serra was the first Catholic saint canonized on American soil. A statue was erected in his honor near the California Capitol in Sacramento in 1965, commemorating his work not only as a Christian missionary who had a hand in establishing California’s 21 Spanish missions, including the nine built during his lifetime, but also as an advocate for Indian rights.

Despite Serra’s
track record for standing up to the Spanish military on behalf of native peoples and defending Indian property rights, leftists and other revisionists have long characterized Serra as a villain, taking issue in particular with his evangelical efforts.

Democrats fully embraced this antipathy toward Serra, accusing the missionary of overseeing “enslavement of both adults and children, mutilation, genocide, and assault on women” in a piece of legislation that Gov. Gavin Newsom
ratified on Sept. 24, 2021.

Omitting any mention of a possible spiritual context for Serra’s work or his proposed native bill of rights, AB 338 alleged that the missionary, responsible for bringing Christianity to multitudes of Indians, had a leading role in the “devastation” of native communities in the state.

The legislation, which Newsom claimed served to underscore the state’s “values of inclusion and equity,” deleted the legal requirement that the Serra statue be maintained.

Evidently tired of the smears against Serra, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco noted in a September 2021 Wall Street Journal
op-ed, “None of that is true.”

“While there is much to criticize from this period, no serious historian has ever made such outrageous claims about Serra or the mission system, the network of 21 communities that Franciscans established along the California coast to evangelize native people. The lawmakers behind the bill drew their ideas from a single tendentious book written by journalist Elias Castillo,” wrote the prelates.

“Serra was a complex character, but he defended indigenous people’s humanity, decried the abuse of indigenous women, and argued against imposing the death penalty on natives who had burned down a mission and murdered one of his friends,” they continued. “How we choose to remember the past shapes the people we hope to be in the future. We can think of no better symbol for this multiethnic state committed to human dignity and equality than to place two statues at the California Capitol — one celebrating the living heritage of California’s indigenous peoples, another reflecting the faith and leadership of their defender St. Junípero Serra.”

The archbishops evidently failed to convert the revisionists.

Toppling history

During the 2020 BLM riots, radicals
inflicted billions of dollars of damage across the country. During the destructive campaign, hundreds of statues and historical monuments were toppled, including Serra’s statue in Sacramento’s Capitol Park.

reported at the time that hundreds of demonstrators had swarmed the statue, spray-painted it, attempted to set it on fire, then used heavy-duty tow straps to pull it down.

Bishop Jaime Soto, the head of the Diocese of Sacramento,
said in response, “The group’s actions may have been meant to draw attention to the sorrowful, angry memories over California’s past, but this act of vandalism does little to build the future.”

“The strenuous labor of overcoming the plague of racism should not be toppled by nocturnal looting. Dialogue should not abdicate to vandalism,” added Soto.

A statue with the iconoclasts’ blessing

State lawmakers, tribal leaders, and activists celebrated the unveiling of the eight-foot bronze statue of Miwok leader William Franklin Tuesday in the park where Serra’s likeness once stood.

KXTV indicated that Franklin strived during his lifetime to revive traditional Miwok and Nisenan songs and dances. In addition to being a member of the California Native American Heritage Commission, he also worked to establish the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.

At the groundbreaking ceremony last year, his grandson Louie Brown said, “He’s going to be happy that he’s out here in the park amongst the trees because he was an outside type of guy.”

“Finally, the California Indian people will have a monument here on the Capitol grounds for all those visiting to know that we are still here,”
said Assemblyman James Ramos, the Democratic lawmaker behind AB 338. “We’re here because of the resiliency of our elders and ancestors.”

Chris Gallardo, a Wilton Rancheria government relations staffer linked to the statue initiative, said, “What this statue is replacing, the pain and suffering under Serra, it’s a huge blessing,”
reported the Sacramento Bee.

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