ISSN 2330-717X

New York Times Smear Of St. Serra Stands – OpEd

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On September 30, the New York Times ran a front-page story that smeared St. Junipero Serra. Repeated attempts to have the paper correct the record have failed.

On the day that Laura M. Holson’s news story appeared, “Sainthood of Serra Reopens Wounds of Colonialism in California,” I sent her the following email:

You said that “Historians agree” that Fr. Serra had Indians “tortured to death.” I have done research on Serra and written about him, yet I know of no historian who makes such a claim. Please name them. I can name many who never made such a claim. [Click here to read them.]

The following day I contacted the “Corrections” section of the paper, as well as the public editor, sending them the above email. I also said, “Ms. Holson has not responded. Assuming she cannot name historians who have made such a claim, I am requesting that this merit inclusion in the ‘Corrections’ section of the Times.”

One week went by after my email to these two parties, and still no response. Yesterday, I wrote them again, sending the previous emails: “Please let me know if I can expect a correction to Ms. Holson’s story. If her account is accurate, she should be able to name the historians who say that Fr. Serra tortured Indians. This story is particularly important because Pope Francis just canonized Fr. Serra when he was in DC. Thank you.”

Another day has passed, and still no reply. This is yellow journalism at its worst. When I submit paid ads to the Times, I am often asked to identify my sources. Yet it accepts hit jobs like Holson’s. The fact is there is no list of historians who claim Fr. Serra tortured Indians, and the Times knows it. We are sending this news release to a wide audience.

Contact Margaret Sullivan, the public editor: [email protected]

William Donohue

William Donohue

William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.

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