My cartoon today depicts the bear on the California flag pulling down a statue of Junipero Serra, the controversial Catholic saint who oversaw the opening of nine missions in colonial California. Serra participated in the Spanish Inquisition and enslaved native Americans, imprisoning them at his missions. Statues of Serra have been vandalized recently as many protests toppling statues commemorating racist historical figures have swept the nation, and the world, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
The California bear is something of an “everyman” character. I like seeing the movement to purge symbols honoring racist, historical figures; perhaps it is a bit of wishful thinking on my part to see California’s “everyman” tearing down Serra since there is quite a bit of support for defending the many Serra statues that dot our state like a pox. President Trump is using an executive order to boost penalties for defacing racist, historical monuments. My depiction of the California flag today is more a symbol of hope that these protests succeed than than a depiction of today’s reality.
The statue is based on one located in San Juan Capistrano that was relocated recently to protect it from protesters. I lifted Serra’s robe a bit so that I could get some Saddam Hussein action going with his ankles.
When I was in third grade I was required to build a model of a California mission and I was taught a false, fairy tale story about Padre Serra. Thirty years later my kids went through the same thing in school. California students have been required to build those models and have been fed a whitewashed version of history for many decades. That may be changing now as the protests continue. Maybe our “everyman” bear will finally tear down that statue!
Scroll down to see some more of my favorite “everyman” California bears.
California always has a drought …
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Sometimes the drought is worse …
Even when it floods, we still have a drought …
We have fires too. And heroic firemen …
And we have legal marijuana …
And California was one of the first states to legalize gay marriage …
And president Trump doesn’t like California’s auto emissions standards …
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