As the Topix forums for commenting on local news stories are populated almost entirely by trolls focused on antagonizing and insulting one another, it wasn’t surprising that the sawing down, by persons unknown, of the 20 foot tall cross that’s been standing on public property on the Monterey Beach for the past 40 years resulted in an outpouring of vitriol, on several different Topix threads, aimed at “Liberals,” the ACLU, Obama, etc.
So it was a breath of fresh air to see a thoughtful comment, authored by “JDW” appear on one thread reading, in part:
The Latin Cross is the most widely recognized symbol of Christianity. It likely had its origins in the Roman Catholic Church, though they tend to favor the Crucifix, which has a depiction of the dying Christ, his passion and ultimate resurrection. Some Christians use the Latin Cross, some do not. However, to even the most casual observer, it is a Christian symbol. A solitary wooden cross, without adornment or embellishment, really has no other meaning. At the time of the Portola-Crespi expedition, it symbolized the Roman Catholic Monarchy of Spain and was likely placed somewhere on the coast of Monterey Bay by Spanish Catholic Missionaries and Explorers (Conquistadores) to claim the land as their own, even though other peoples had been living here for thousands of years. It’s unlikely that the spot chosen in 1969 by the well-meaning citizens of Monterey is anywhere near the original site of the cross, as the expedition followed the Salinas River to the sea. It’s more likely near Marina that the original cross was placed.
IF the intention of the citizens of Monterey was to commemorate the ‘discovery’ of Monterey by the Spanish by placing an interpretive monument, the plaque (and not the cross) would have been sufficient. IF they had wished to be historically accurate, it would have been somewhere else.
To say that the cross is simply a monument to history and NOT a religious symbol denigrates it as the powerful symbol that it is to both Christians and non-Christians alike. It does have meaning and its meaning is religious. And as such, it has no place on public land, whether it be state or city-owned.
It is lamentable that the cross was cut down by vandals. I personally would have much preferred a civil debate on its merits as a monument and its meaning as a Christian symbol. There are many people who live in Monterey who are non-Christians. Do they not have the right to enjoy public lands free from Christian symbology? How do you think Native Americans view this reminder of their tragic historical interactions with Europeans? Does the fact that the cross is not historically accurate and that it is not suitable as an interpretive monument (claiming that it holds no religious meaning) satisfy anyone?
The preference of one religion over another or the support of a religious idea with no identifiable secular purpose is not allowed by the courts or the Constitution. To argue that a 20-foot Latin Cross is the only way to commemorate the ‘discovery’ of Monterey is preposterous. To say it is not a religious symbol is disingenuous. To cut it down without this debate is a crime.
Certainly a contribution of this kind could not fail to raise the level of the debate at least a little, could it?
Well, here’re some examples of what the trolls are saying in response:
“JDW, sounds like YOU chopped down the cross.”
“JDW sounds like someone with too much time on his/her hands, roaming around looking for ways to be offended. Get a life.”
“ACLU = ACORN”
“More of Obama and his people in action”
And best of all:
“All your words will not save you come the final judgment.If you were so smart you would have eyes to see god.Submit to Jesus Christ and live.Surrender not and parish.(sic)”
Talk about pearls before swine …