Ah, spring has sprung and I can resume my Saturday morning bike rides into town. I can see what's happening. The new construction, new hotels, new restaurants. All the hubbub on Main Street. I love it.

I end up in the Hatt Building Plaza and grab a cup of coffee from the General Store, sit at a table and visit with the tourists. Sometimes I offer to take their pictures with their cellphones as they stand in front of the mural fountain. I then explain the history of Napa the mural depicts.

At the end, I point out the picture of a burning cross and white hooded figures in the upper right-hand corner. "The KKK in Napa?" they gasp. I tell them yes, the Klan was very strong here in the 1920s and '30s, especially Upvalley, but we've come a long way and that's not true anymore.

Although the African American presence here is still not strong and many that are here drive Mercedes and shop at Whole Foods. I like to believe it's more economic segregation than racial though. It's very expensive to live in Napa.

Well, the morning of June 1, while sipping my coffee, I looked at the mural and was taken aback. Someone had painted over the hooded figures and burning cross image -- obliterating that part of our history. As if it never happened.

When I called the Napa River Inn, they told me that this happens periodically. What's next? Painting over the image of Chinese laboring on our railroads?

But it's happening all over the country. Statues being covered or torn down and paintings being taken down or covered at universities. Books being expunged from our libraries and schools, trying to create a sanitized history, and in my opinion, an unrealistic future. An Orwellian society.

As Orwell wrote, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

It doesn't bode well for us, folks. As Cynthia A. Patterson wrote in "It Had to Happen:" “Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. You have to expose who you are so that you can determine what you need to become.”

It seems we are becoming so politically correct, we are in danger of not knowing where we came from, but most important, how far we have come. Of who we are as a people and as individuals. Of not accepting our humanity. Especially if it's uncomfortably bad.

Kent Cohea


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