To the editor: Steven Hackel’s op-ed article on removing the names of historical figures from public and private buildings and streets — if those personages had done serious harm in their lifetimes — is timely and relevant. As he said, removing Father Junipero Serra’s name from buildings attempts to avoid distressing people who live, study, or work nearby.
But what are the limits on such renaming?
For example, Martin Luther, hailed as the father of the Protestant Reformation, is named on every Lutheran church. When I pass by,I am reminded that in his lifetime he advocated that synagogues be burned, that Jews should be shown no mercy or kindness, and that “these poisonous envenomed worms” should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time. He wrote that his countrymen were “at fault in not slaying them.”
We all know where that led, but I don’t expect Lutheran churches to rename themselves.
Richard Merel, Hermosa Beach
To the editor: I had the pleasure of translating two of Serra’s letters last year, and the “one dimensional” man came to life for me.
According to these letters, one to the Spanish viceroy at the time, Serra cared for the California Indians and tried to do his best for them and defend them against the secular authority. He also became, to me, a man with a wry sense of humor.
True, he was patriarchial, but when I consider the mores and culture of the times in California, Mexico and Spain, I can see that he still cared deeply for those who were working at the missions.
Mary Ambrose, West Hills