Letters to the Editor: Teach the mission era in California as a period of genocide

Visitors pull the ropes to ring the bells at Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá in San Diego in 2019.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

To the editor: I applaud and could not agree more with Valentin Lopez in his call for taking down the mission bells that line the so-called El Camino Real linking California’s Spanish missions. This glorification of the Spanish genocide perpetrated against native peoples must end and is long overdue.

When my kids were in fourth grade attending public school in Los Angeles, they were required to build a model of a mission. This practice should end as well, and the true history of what happened in the missions should be taught.

It’s like having students build a model of a concentration camp as part of a lesson on World War II.


Carlos Jimenez, Vista


To the editor: I understand the sentiment behind the opinion to take down the mission bell markers by a member of an Indigenous tribe. But it is cheap and hysterical criticism by the author to imply that the defense of the El Camino Real is equal to defending Confederate monuments.

The Times is guilty of allowing these kinds of “the president is Hitler” distortions to pass through the editors. These comparisons only foster anger.

Chris Collins, Los Angeles


To the editor: When I see the bells on the shepherd’s hooks, I think of the intrepid motor tourists from the early part of the last century, and how the journey between Ventura and Carpinteria at the time was a race with the tides.

But then my thoughts go to earlier history, in three parts.

First there was the cruel and cowardly injustice of the mission system. This must not happen again. Second, I was mistaught the history of the “benevolent” fathers, and that the El Camino Real was “built” to connect the missions, when in reality the priests huddled around the via so they would be protected by the soldiers. This skewing of history must not happen again.


And third, not long ago, I happened upon a third grade class that was using the exact same media I saw, but with a much more accurate narrative.

So no, do not take down the bells. Let us remember true history and let them be a reminder that we can be better.

Gregg Ferry, Carlsbad