It's hard for me to imagine the mindset of an American whose chest swells with patriotic pride over the slice of our history during which we allowed human beings to own other human beings. Is this something to be proud of? Something to cast in bronze and stick in the middle of town?
How do letter-writers who whine and cry about the destruction of confederate monuments manage to gloss over the fact that the goal of the Confederate army — the reason it existed — was to perpetuate commercial trade and legal ownership of human beings? I'm expected to be impressed or grateful for the "bravery" of those who chose to fight for human trafficking? And a descendant of those human beings who were bought and sold by other human beings is expected to stroll by memorials to such ugliness in the middle of his or her hometown, shrug and say, "Hey, no problem, that's cool."
A similar glossing-over is attempted by the publicist of the Santa Barbara mission. Pick up a mission brochure and you read that the Native Americans who built the place "turned out to be gentle and willing partners in this great project." Really? That the indigenous people were enslaved, humiliated and often murdered is clearly and appropriately stated in the brochure at the mission in San Juan Bautista. Why the difference? Santa Barbara's mission is still an operating mission, a well-attended Catholic church, too ashamed perhaps to face or state the truth. San Juan Bautista's, on the other hand, is no longer a church. It's run by park rangers who print brochures written by historians.
So much of our nation's story is outstanding, glorious, worthy and valuable. Pretending and smearing nicey-nice over the less than wonderful chapters is unnecessary and counter-productive.
Catherine Solange, Ph.D., Tehachapi