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Historical fiction

Historical fiction

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I was disappointed to read about plans to replace the section of the beautiful mosaic in the old mill courtyard which shows a part of Napa’s history, albeit a shameful part ("Section of Napa Mill mosaic depicting historic Ku Klux Klan activity covered with tape," July 16).

Comparing this depiction of the Ku Klux Klan’s brief, but significant, foray into the life of the Valley to displays of the Confederate flag or monuments erected to pay tribute to Confederate generals and other advocates of slavery, does a disservice to Alan Shepp’s visual depiction of our local history. Viewing this mural affords a “teachable moment” to those, like myself, who were unaware that the KKK played a role in Napa’s history. And it gives us reason to reflect on changes in attitude that would never permit such a display here today.

It reminds me of the education I received in elementary school about the California missions. The curriculum portrayed missionaries as civilizers of the West and focused on the beauty and positive aspects of the missions. Not until college did I learn the humanitarian cost of this religious endeavor. I learned that native people were conscripted and enslaved much as were the Chinese brought here to mine silver and build the railroads and Africans brought to the U.S. to work the fields and serve their masters.

The realization that my early education had been sanitized made me angry. How useful it would have been to use the real story as a jumping off point for classroom discussion.

Creating a parallel universe where historical fiction replaces actual history is a slippery slope for democracy. I hope the decision to eliminate that section of this beautiful – and thought provoking - mural is reconsidered.

Iris Barrie


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