First, it was the defacing (or removing) of Confederate statues in the East and South.
Now it’s the defacing and vandalism of St. Junipero Serra statues in the West. This is a comparatively new wrinkle in the news -- this trend of destroying the symbols of history with which one doesn’t personally agree. I wonder if such vandalism is the new normal. This certainly raises reporting questions for journalists covering this kind of story.
For the latest on what’s happening in California, we turn to various local media on how they’ve covered the latest incidents. First, from the San Francisco Chronicle:
A bronze statue of the Roman Catholic priest Junipero Serra at the Old Santa Barbara Mission was decapitated and doused with red paint on Sunday night or early Monday morning.
The statue, on the western side of the Central Coast property near the mission's office, has since been covered with a tarp. The Santa Barbara mission has been called the "Queen of the Missions."
The statue was vandalized in a similar fashion as another Father Serra statue in Monterey last year. That figure, which was beheaded but not painted, has since been repaired. Another, in Santa Cruz, was vandalized with the word "genocide" in late 2015.
Then comes a tiny piece of background:
Serra was a Franciscan friar in the 18th century who founded nine of the state's 21 missions. He was canonized as a saint in 2015 by Pope Francis -- a decision that met criticism by those who believe Serra unfairly treated Native Americans. Some say that Serra "imposed" Christianity upon natives, forcing them convert and then work on building missions while relinquishing their traditions, customs, dress, and language in favor of Spanish ones.
The article ends soon after that, with no quotes from anyone (the local Catholic diocese, for instance) decrying the vandalism and the assumptions that led up to it.