Dan Walters: California lawmakers go too far on Indian issues

A statue of Junipero Serra with an Indian boy. Photo by Anatoly Terentiev / Wikipedia

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters argues that California lawmakers are drifting into censorship ground by taking on Junipero Serra, the founder of the brutal Indian mission system, and racist mascots:
The 2015 legislative session may – or may not – be otherwise memorable, but certainly will be known for symbolic gestures that drift into censorship.

Earlier in the year, the Senate voted to remove the statue of Junipero Serra, the 18th century Spanish missionary who brought Christianity to California and built the first of the state’s famed missions, from the U.S. Capitol and replace it with a statue of astronaut Sally Ride.

It acted as Pope Francis prepared to canonize Serra, who has been the target of criticism by Indian activists for the harsh treatment of natives by early Spanish settlers. Meanwhile, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, has pressed legislation to compel schools which use “Redskins” as team mascots to choose new names, arguing that the word is demeaning to native peoples.

Neither complaint is new, but for more than century, the state’s Indians, impoverished and powerless, were largely ignored by politicians. When, however, the tribes acquired a monopoly over California’s multibillion-dollar casino business and flexed their political muscle, the Legislature suddenly became more sensitive to their issues.

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Dan Walters: Symbolism could be slick slope (The Sacramento Bee 7/15)

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