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California and Saint Serra Statues

My cartoon today depicts the bear on the California flag pulling down a statue of Junipero Serra, the controversial Catholic saint who oversaw the opening of nine missions in colonial California. Serra participated in the Spanish Inquisition and enslaved native Americans, imprisoning them at his missions. Statues of Serra have been vandalized recently as many protests toppling statues commemorating racist historical figures have swept the nation, and the world, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

The California bear is something of an “everyman” character. I like seeing the movement to purge symbols honoring racist, historical figures; perhaps it is a bit of wishful thinking on my part to see California’s “everyman” tearing down Serra since there is quite a bit of support for defending the many Serra statues that dot our state like a pox. President Trump is using an executive order to boost penalties for defacing racist, historical monuments. My depiction of the California flag today is more a symbol of hope that these protests succeed than than a depiction of today’s reality.

The statue is based on one located in San Juan Capistrano that was relocated recently to protect it from protesters. I lifted Serra’s robe a bit so that I could get some Saddam Hussein action going with his ankles.

My cartoon today depicts the bear on the California flag pulling down a statue of Junipero Serra, the controversial Catholic saint who oversaw the opening of nine missions in colonial California. Serra participated in the Spanish Inquisition and enslaved native Americans, imprisoning them at his missions. Statues of Serra have been vandalized recently as many protests toppling statues commemorating racist historical figures have swept the nation, and the world, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

The California bear is something of an “everyman” character. I like seeing the movement to purge symbols honoring racist, historical figures; perhaps it is a bit of wishful thinking on my part to see California’s “everyman” tearing down Serra since there is quite a bit of support for defending the many Serra statues that dot our state like a pox. President Trump is using an executive order to boost penalties for defacing racist, historical monuments. My depiction of the California flag today is more a symbol of hope that these protests succeed than than a depiction of today’s reality.

The statue is based on one located in San Juan Capistrano that was relocated recently to protect it from protesters. I lifted Serra’s robe a bit so that I could get some Saddam Hussein action going with his ankles.

When I was in third grade I was required to build a model of a California mission and I was taught a false, fairy tale story about Padre Serra.  Thirty years later my kids went through the same thing in school. California students have been required to build those models and have been fed a whitewashed version of history for many decades. That may be changing now as the protests continue. Maybe our “everyman” bear will finally tear down that statue!

Scroll down to see some more of my favorite “everyman” California bears.

California always has a drought …


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3 replies on “California and Saint Serra Statues”

Dear Daryl,

I wasn’t aware that the revision of racist History in your country spreaded so far. I don’t know haw harsh the life in the missions was towards originary peoples in California.

But -if it was so as you depicted it- you may be interested in a reevaluation of Argentine corsair (of French origins) Hippolyte Bouchard, who raided and occupied for a while Monterrey and San Juan Capistrano as part of the first independent country in South America efforts to fight Spanish colonial posts where he can find them.

Bouchard’s raids covered the Pacific costs between 1815-20; from Chile and Peru to Philippines, Hawaii, California and Central America (colors of the flags of some Central America’s countries are shaped after that of Bouchards’s vessel).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippolyte_Bouchard

Always a pleasure to read your newsletter.

I don’t understand. Junipers Serra went through all the stages-venerable, blessed, finally saint- and was thoroughly investigated, including by the “devil’s advocate.” Miracles through his intercession were proved. How can he be bad and Adam-Steve marriage be good?? Adam and Steve should be recognized as deserving of respect for their human dignity.

Not siding with any train of thought, but Father Serra was a murdering, slave munger that destroyed the Tongva & Gabriolina tribes of California. But so what? That’s what the Vatican sent him here to do. Convert, enslave and build a system of “way stations” across California. In his own way, he was a church hero. Unless you were an indian. White/Spanish folk killed anyone that were not technologically equal to the conquistadores and their god driven over-seers. That’s the way it’s been for thousands of years. Hell, look what we did to the indigenous tribes of the east.

Father Serra was just another follower who was doing “gods work” as they destroyed ancient civilizations. Nothing has changed. JIP

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