In the News 10/15/21

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St. Junipero Serra

St. Junipero Serra, scapegoat. The City of Los Angeles has decided to permanently remove the statue of St. Junipero Serra from La Plaza Park that was vandalized and torn down by riotous protesters last year. Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, announced that the part of La Plaza Park known as Father Serra Park will be renamed and that local indigenous communities will have priority access to the park in order to practice their traditional ceremonies. Fr. Serra has long been the target of criticism from activists who hold him responsible for the oppression of and genocide against native Californians. Archbishop Jose Gomez and actual historians of the era, however, claim that Serra was a benefactor and protector of the native population against those who would exploit them, and the genocide against the natives did not start until well after Serra’s death. Peter Barnett, the first governor of California, signed into law the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians in 1851, which allowed for their enslavement and paved the way for their genocide. Dr. Ruben Mendoza, Professor of Archaeology and Social and Behavioral Sciences at the California State University and a Yaqui Indian and Mexican American, claims that activists are conflating Serra with the horrors of genocide and slavery instituted by the state. The current governor, Gavin Newsom, along with Garcetti, are contributing to the false negative narrative about Serra, likely to both placate the activists and to deflect attention away from the secular state’s historic responsibility for the decimation of the indigenous peoples. At Serra’s canonization in 2015, the first canonization ceremony to take place in America, Pope Francis said, “Very often at crucial moments in human affairs, God raises up men and women whom he thrusts into roles of decisive importance for the future development of both society and the Church. … So it is with Junípero Serra, who in the providence of God was destined to be the Apostle of California, and to have a permanent influence over the spiritual patrimony of this land and its people, whatever their religion might be.” Sounds to me like St. Junipero is being made the scapegoat for the historical horrors suffered by the indigenous people of California. People should read a book before they attack and demean a person’s reputation and record.

Continued troubles in Loudoun. The Loudoun County School Board in Virginia has attracted national attention as the focal point of parental criticism of public schools that want to adopt policies that include teaching Critical Race Theory, favorable policies toward LGBTQ+ students, and mandatory mask-wearing and other restrictive COVID measures. A number of the school board members face recall efforts by a group called Fight for Schools, who accuse school board members of violating Virginia’s open meetings law. At a recent school board meeting, Scott Smith, father of a ninth-grade student at Stone Bridge High School, was arrested and dragged out of the meeting after he was accused of becoming confrontational. After the incident involving Smith, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), wrote a letter to President Biden in which they claimed that, “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat” from a “growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.” In their letter to Biden, the NSBA wrote that the threats against them, as evidenced by Smith’s supposed outrage, represented “heinous actions” that were “equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” Attorney General Merrick Garland has since called on the FBI to investigate the alleged threats and domestic terror, enraging critics who accuse the Department of Justice of virtually ignoring riots and violent protests by those on the left, yet choose to investigate upset parents as terrorists. It was later revealed that Smith’s daughter was the victim of an alleged assault by a 14-year-old “gender fluid” male student who was allowed to use the girl’s bathroom at the school. It was in the bathroom that Smith’s daughter alleged that she was raped by the male student. According to The Catholic Vote, the Loudoun County School Board insisted to Smith’s family that silence must be kept about the alleged assault in order to carry out a thorough investigation, and it was turned over to the local Sheriff. At the same time, the school board moved the alleged perpetrator to another high school where he was accused of assaulting another girl. The boy has since been charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of anal sodomy, and one count of forcible fellatio. Two months after the meeting where Smith was arrested, the Loudoun County School Board voted to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their “identity.” At that vote, and in spite of knowing about the alleged assaults at two high schools by the same student, the school board publicly claimed that there had been no incidents of assaults in bathrooms by transgender students. The school board, of course, is being accused of covering up the assault suffered by Smith’s daughter and irresponsibly transferring the male student to another high school, allowing him to assault another girl. One of the school board members facing recall, Beth Barts, has decided to resign.

Balance over the Holocaust? A new Texas law is causing confusion and controversy among educators in the Lone Star State. Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed HB 3979 into law last month. The new law prohibits teachers from discussing “a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs” or, if the teacher plans to discuss such an issue, the teacher is obliged to “explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.” Needless to say, the law is in response to the popularity of Critical Race Theory among some educators and seeks to balance out perspectives on controversial issues. Okay, that may be a noble goal, but carrying out of that policy is a potential minefield. As an example, Gina Peddy, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in north Texas, referenced the law when she recommended in a training session to teachers that books about the Holocaust in their classrooms ought to include material from both “perspectives.” Both perspectives? You mean, the perspective of the pro-genocide Nazi regime? “How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher asked. Lane Ledbetter, superintendent for Carroll ISD, apologized for Ms. Peddy’s statements. Obviously, the law was not intended to call into question historical facts or to suggest that there are two sides to the Holocaust. Nevertheless, that Ms. Peddy would be so confused about how the law should be interpreted and practically implemented suggests more widespread confusion among educators and concern that what issues they teach and how they teach issues may come back to bite them. This is why, in my mind, school curriculums ought to be managed at as local a level as possible, as a joint effort between educators and parents. The purpose of the central government in education is to make sure all students have a level playing field of opportunity and that no egregious practices and policies are put in place that jeopardize everyone receiving an excellent education. When the central government decides to get involved the nitty-gritty practices of educators, confusion and controversy ensue.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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