In a syndicated op-ed this week, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan argues that white, male, Christian historical figures are being “cleansed” from America’s national consciousness.
Unhappy that Saint Louis University (SLU) is relocating a statue of a Catholic missionary evangelizing to Native Americans, Buchanan published an op-ed on Monday decrying the statue’s move from a prominent outdoor location to a less conspicuous one inside. Buchanan further warns readers of a nationwide “cultural cleansing of Christian males.”
As evidence of what Christian men have to put up with these days, Buchanan quotes an SLU student’s description of the controversial statue. It “depicts a history of colonialism, imperialism, racism, and of Christian and white supremacy,” says Ryan McKinley, now in his senior year at the Catholic college. Buchanan disagrees with McKinley’s assessment.
“If the founder of Christianity is the Son of God,” Buchanan reasons, “then Christianity is a superior religion.” Students and staff at SLU who support the statue’s removal, Buchanan says, “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 SLU art museum? Why should not they themselves depart for another institution where their sensitivities will not be assaulted by artistic expressions of religious truths?”
Buchanan goes on to denounce criticisms of Pope Francis’ planned canonization of Junipero Serra, an 18th century Catholic missionary from Spain. A Franciscan priest, Serra was among the European conquerers who founded dozens of missions along the California coast. The missions converted Native Americans to the Christian faith; the Spaniards also enslaved the people they were working to convince of Catholic dogma.
The Pope is scheduled to formally declare Serra a Catholic saint during a September ceremony in the United States. “With the pope coming here to canonize Father Serra,” Buchanan writes, “the war drums have begun.”
Buchanan notes there are people who believe Serra “accompanied Spanish soldiers who brutalized the Indians” and “helped to eradicate [Native American] religion and culture, replacing it with his own.” And now, “a move is afoot,” Buchanan says, to replace Serra’s statue as one of the two representing California in the Capitol’s national statuary collection.
The former advisor to Republican Presidents Nixon and Reagan tells readers that the coup against Serra’s statue is being led by State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). Buchanan describes Lara as “an openly gay Los Angeles Democrat.” According to Buchanan, Lara would like to see a statue of astronaut Sally Ride at the Capitol instead. Ride has been called the “first gay astronaut.”
Buchanan proceeds to complain about an initiative by “feminists to remove the visage of Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill and replace it with that of a woman.” The former presidential candidate acknowledges Jackson played a role in enacting a federal policy of genocide against Native Americans.
“Yet, Jackson,” Buchanan challenges, “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.” Buchanan further celebrates Jackson for his role in nearly “[doubling] the size of the United States.”
“When we look at who is currently on America’s currency,” Buchanan wonders, “George Washington on the $1 bill, Abe Lincoln on the $5, Hamilton on the $10, Jackson on the $20, Ulysses S. Grant on the $50, Ben Franklin on the $100 — 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?”
“These women” that Buchanan is referencing specifically in this case include Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. Parks’ civil disobedience against segregation helped spur the abolishment of Jim Crow laws. Tubman saved countless lives by creating the “underground railroad,” a network of safe houses that hosted black slaves during lengthy escape journeys from the American south to regions where slavery was not legal.
George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, and Benjamin Franklin, meanwhile, enslaved black people while they were alive.