It seems that “progressive symbolism” over “historical substance” has one again emerged victorious as a less than courageous Saint Louis University has capitulated in the removal of a statue depicting a famous Jesuit missionary priest praying over American Indians.

The continued complaint by both students and faculty that the sculpture symbolized white supremacy, racism and colonialism, and thus by inference one then could also conclude that Jesuit Missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet S.J. was a racist.

However the history surrounding the statue is more nuanced than the statue’s opponents portray it. According to a SLU webpage, De Smet had an excellent rapport with American Indians. He was known to them “simply and affectionately as ‘Blackrobe.'” While converting thousands to Catholicism, De Smet also helped negotiate treaties among the Indians and the United States, ensuring their land and safety. De Smet also shares a connection to Saint Louis University, serving as its treasurer shortly after the university’s founding.

And regardless of the facts surrounding the sculpture we witness once again “progressive symbolism” over “historical substance”.

A university spokesperson told St. Louis Magazine the statue will be placed within the “historical context of a collection that’s on permanent display in our SLU Museum of Art.” The statue is set for the museum’s “Collection of the Western Jesuit Missions.”

In a recent op-ed published in SLU’s University News, senior Ryan McKinley stated the sculpture sent a clear, unwelcoming message to American Indians at Saint Louis University.


“This message to American Indians is simple: You do not belong here if you do not submit to our culture and our religion,” McKinley wrote. McKinley called for the statue’s removal, while suggesting the university replace it with artwork made by American Indians.

And while exhibiting art of American Indians is an excellent idea, the fact still remains that the reputation and character of an apparent loving and caring priest has been forever tarnished by a politically motivated agenda…perhaps the next to be targeted by secular progressives is Mother (Saint) Theresa.

h/t: WZ

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