Opinion

WADDY: Even Hispanic Heritage Isn’t Safe From California’s Intolerant Extremists

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Nicholas Waddy Associate Professor of History, SUNY Alfred

June 21 marked an important milestone for the University of California at Santa Cruz. The school made the extraordinary decision to remove a monument known as the “El Camino Real Bell.” Spanish Franciscan friars placed the bell in Santa Cruz in 1906, but critics have said the bell is “racist.”

How can a bell be racist, you ask?

Some Native American activists believe the missionaries oppressed their ancestors.

While the missionaries brought Catholicism, Western medicine, technology, agriculture, commerce and education, they also brought slavery and death.

The Catholic Church has a checkered legacy in Spanish America, replete with inhumanity. Yet, its missionaries were among the very few voices in the New World who called for better treatment for Native Americans and slaves. Condemning the Catholic Church’s missionaries is as sensible as dismissing all white people as racist. It’s a mental leap, but it’s one that social-justice warriors are comfortable making.

In the meantime, Hispanics are the real victims of this historical erasure. All too often, persistent racism obscures their role in California’s history. It creates bias in the historical record. Removing Franciscan missionaries — some of the most educated, humane settlers in early California — from the state’s pantheon of heroes adds insult to injury.

The intolerant activists who pushed to remove the bell are now calling for its destruction. That would be a wanton act of historical vandalism (and would cap acts of actual vandalism against the bell).

What’s next? The bulldozing of Franciscan missions? After all, their mere existence causes angst for social-justice warriors. Why not turn these monuments into re-education camps and kill two birds with one stone?

The fate of UC Santa Cruz’s bell has particular resonance for two reasons. First, efforts to whitewash our history are accelerating across the nation. The Philadelphia Flyers’ April decision to remove statues of singer Kate Smith proved not even feminist icons are safe. The El Camino Real Bell’s removal proves that Hispanics are also imperiled.

Another reason this story is notable is America may soon have its first Native American president, Chief Elizabeth Warren of the Massachusetts “Wannabe” tribe.

Warren, known as “Pocahontas” in some circles, has already declared her fellow Indians should be “part” of reparations. We can assume that few historical markers would survive the purge that she’s ready to unleash.

Now is the time for the American people to stand up and say “enough.” If we do not stop this assault on our common heritage, we may find the only history we have left is part of a delusional liberal narrative of “inclusion,” and the rest lost forever.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy (@WaddyIsRight) is an associate professor of history at SUNY Alfred. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Rochester in New York.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.