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cultural cleansingThe culture war against Christianity is picking up speed.

Last week came word Saint Louis University will remove a heroic-sized statue of Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet S.J. from the front of Fusz Hall, where it has stood for sixty years.

The statue depicts Fr. De Smet holding aloft a crucifix as he ministers to two American Indians, one of whom is kneeling.

Historically, the statue is accurate. Fr. De Smet, “Blackrobe,” as he was known, was a nineteenth-century missionary to Indian tribes, who converted thousands. A friend of Sitting Bull, he spent his last years in St. Louis.

And as the mission of this Jesuit university is, presumably, to instruct the Catholic young in their faith and send them out into the world to bring the good news of Jesus Christ as Lord and savior to non believers, what exactly is the problem here?

According to S.L.U. Assistant Vice President for Communications Clayton Berry, “some faculty and staff…raised questions about whether the sculpture is culturally sensitive.” Senior Ryan McKinley is more specific: “The statue of De Smet depicts a history of colonialism, imperialism, racism and of Christian and white supremacy.”

But if the founder of Christianity is the Son of God, then Christianity is a superior religion. What Ryan and those faculty and staff seem to be ashamed of, uncomfortable with, or unable to defend, is the truth for which Saint Louis University was supposed to stand.

But simply because they are cowardly, or politically correct, why should that statue be going into the S.L.U. art museum? Why should not they themselves depart for another institution where their sensitivities will not be assaulted by artistic expressions of religious truths?

The message the S.L.U. president should have given the dissenters is simple: We are a Catholic university that welcomes students and faculty not of the faith. But if you find our identity objectionable, then go somewhere else. We are not changing who we are.

Yet another missionary to the Indians is now becoming a figure of controversy. On his September visit to Washington, D.C., Pope Francis plans to canonize Fr. Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan whom John Paul II beatified in 1988, who converted thousands of Indians in California in the eighteenth century, when it still belonged to Mexico.

Fr. Serra established nine missions up the coast, among them missions that would grow into San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

Not only is Fr. Serra’s name famous in California, his statue has stood since 1931 in the U.S. Capitol in one of two places set aside for the Golden State. The other statue representing California is that of President Ronald Reagan, unveiled in 2009, which replaced a statue of the preacher Thomas Starr King.

With the pope coming here to canonize Fr. Serra, the war drums have begun. It is said the priest accompanied Spanish soldiers who brutalized the Indians, and Fr. Serra helped to eradicate their religion and culture, replacing it with his own.

Now a move is afoot to remove Fr. Serra’s statue.

According to the Religion New Service, “State Sen. Ricardo Lara, an openly gay Los Angeles Democrat, wants to replace a bronze statue of Serra with a monument honoring Sally Ride, the nation’s first female astronaut. Lara said Ride would become ‘the first member of the LGBT community’ to be honored in Statuary Hall.”

Another drive is underway by feminists to remove the visage of Andrew Jackson from the twenty dollar bill and replace it with that of a woman, preferably a minority woman. Jackson, it is said, was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Cherokees in the Trail of Tears.

Yet, Jackson, slashed across the head by a British soldier in the last days of the Revolution for refusing to polish his boots, was also arguably the greatest soldier-statesman in American history.

Gen. Jackson led the 1815 defense of New Orleans against the British invasion force, and crushed the Indian marauders in Florida, drove out the Spanish governor, and cleared the path for annexation.

Twice elected president, Jackson is, with Jefferson, a father of the Democratic Party, and he and his protegés Sam Houston and James K. Polk virtually doubled the size of the United States.

One Internet poll advanced four leading candidates to replace Jackson: Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Wilma Mankiller, and Harriet Tubman.

But when we look at who is currently on America’s currency—George Washington on the one dollar bill, Abe Lincoln on the five dollar, Hamilton on the ten dollar, Jackson on the twenty dollar, Ulysses S. Grant on the fifty dollar, Ben Franklin on the hundred dollar—do any of these women really compete in terms of historic achievement with what those great men accomplished?

Aren’t we carrying this affirmative action business a bit too far?

What all these arguments are at bottom all about, however, is a deep divide among us over the question: Was the European Christian conquest of America, given its flaws and failings, on balance, a great and good thing. Or not?

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with gracious permission of Pat Buchanan (June 2015).

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4 replies to this post
  1. It’s not a “culture war against Christianity” – it’s that Christianity (and Islam) have led holy wars against the non-Christians and non-Muslims, for too long, and they’re finally losing dogmatic power over the rationally-minded. We’re removing the symbolism that was previously used by the religions to impose that religious iconography everywhere. It was first a “culture war FOR Christianity”, before it became a “yea, we’re tired of this”.

    Sure, you’re right – ”if” the founder of Christianity is the son of god, then Christianity is the superior religion. However, ”if” Muhammad is the final prophet of god, and Christians are misinterpreting their own book because they’re deceiving themselves to believe that he’s a false prophet, then Islam is the superior religion. And ”if” Nirvana can be achieved through the Eight-fold path and meditation, then Buddhism is the superior philosophy over the religions. If this, if that, then this, then that. It makes no difference – they all require vast amounts of faith, which isn’t a virtue, but a way of saying, “I don’t actually know for sure, so I’m just going to go with it, because it sounds pretty convincing, I guess.”

    Who cares if Sally Ride was a lesbian? She was the first woman in space and a physicist, and that should inspire many women who attend the school. You know, the school being of Catholic affiliation already labels them as “non-believing heretics” to many Protestants, and being Jesuits, specifically, furthers that. Many Protestants don’t think of Catholics as being “true” Christians (clearly, these are the types of people who believe Christianity is “superior” to everything else). So if they’re “non-believers” anyway, then why should Protestants care? If the Friar was just simply a missionary, but Sally was the first woman in space – it’s clear that Sally is the more inspirational presence.

    “Jackson, it is said, was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Cherokees in the Trail of Tears.”
    – “It is said”? That implies doubt. But, it’s a fact – he did do that. I’m not, personally, even saying it was a bad thing – I don’t hold an opinion on the American conquest, because I wasn’t around to witness it to judge a fair opinion. But yes, it did all happen. Are the feminists getting a little silly about it? Maybe, but I understand. Symbolism affects the public perception. Many people are starting to wake up to that understanding. At least the liberals aren’t hypocrites – sure, Jackson was a conservative Democrat of the South (long before the Democrat party split, and the liberal Democrats became the strong party), but just because you have “Democrat” attached to your name, doesn’t necessarily mean we like you. You have to be a good, ethical and decent person for us to like you. If you’re a Democrat who acts like a Republican (like Obama has a tendency to do), we just might come to dislike you. Morality is an evolving thing – it spans generations, centuries, millennia. Sometimes, the superior morality gets suppressed by the ruling religion, and they plunge back into dark ages. Therefore, I can sort of understand why they’re taking proactive steps, everywhere, to remove symbolism of a past which we don’t want to see repeated.

    So was it all good, or not? I say, doesn’t matter anymore, because it’s done and over. Maybe not, maybe so. But America is king, now, and as long as we can ensure to keep going in the right direction for all, then the sacrifices of the past will not be in vain. Maybe a phoenix will rise from the ashes.

  2. Steven, it’s all about de-legitimizing our heroes, our culture and us. It’s a bald-faced assault on–in this case– the traditional American nation whose objective is to rid the world of White race. It’s called Cultural Marxism. Mr. Buchanan has written and spoken extensively on this matter.

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