Report from Louisiana: A Disappointing Ruling from the 5th Circuit

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Report from Louisiana: A Disappointing Ruling from the 5th Circuit

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORTThis is the sad­dest thing I’ve read this week: it’s the removal instruc­tions for bid­ders com­pet­ing for the job of remov­ing three Con­fed­er­ate stat­ues in New Orleans.

In a dis­ap­point­ing deci­sion last week, the 5th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals gave the go ahead for the removal of the monuments:

In the rul­ing, the three-​judge panel with the 5th Cir­cuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the groups try­ing to block the removal of the mon­u­ments, Mon­u­men­tal Task Com­mit­tee and the Louisiana Land­marks Soci­ety, failed to present a case that con­tained a legal argu­ment that showed the mon­u­ments should stay up. The court wrote that the groups relied on two legal claims, “both of which wholly lack legal via­bil­ity or support.”

Imme­di­ately fol­low­ing the deci­sion, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s team opened up the bid­ding process, this time with the promise of con­fi­den­tial­ity for the bid­ders. The last time bids were solicited, things turned ugly when bid­ders were threat­ened and in once case a Lam­borgh­ini was torched.

In an inter­view with NPR on Sat­ur­day, New Orleans mayor Mitch Lan­drieu said that it’s impor­tant to take the stat­ues down for the rea­son that post-​Katrina he and his staff decided to rebuild the city as “it always should have been and not the way that it’s been devel­oped over time” – as if he is the only per­son that gets to decide that. Lan­drieu says the Robert E. Lee statue is there for the sole rea­son that Lee led an army against the United States of Amer­ica for the pur­poses of telling African Amer­i­cans that they were less than human.” I con­tend that Mayor Lan­drieu needs a few his­tory classes.

In an opin­ion piece at The Hayride, Mike Bay­ham points out that pub­lic opin­ion is “tepid” on removal:

Why the city of New Orleans seems to be in such a rush to knock [the mon­u­ments] off their respec­tive pedestals is curi­ous as 1) two polls con­ducted in the city showed only tepid sup­port for remov­ing the mon­u­ments (34% and 50%) and 2) the city has yet to fig­ure out what to do with the statues.

It is unclear at this point what the next step will be. There is grow­ing sen­ti­ment now that at least with regard to the Lee mon­u­ment, which stands 16.5 feet tall atop a 68-​foot tall pedestal, the city should be required to remove the entire pedestal, which it is reluc­tant to do. Sup­port­ers do not want Lan­drieu to be able to plop a mon­u­ment to a char­ac­ter of his own choos­ing atop the Lee pedestal.

Cer­tainly once we begin to san­i­tize and remove his­tory we are on a slip­pery slope. There is no end to it. Regard­less of how one feels on the issue of the Con­fed­er­acy, once we begin remov­ing works of pub­lic art because of dis­sent­ing opin­ions we are no bet­ter than cen­sors and become one with the pro­pa­gan­dists who would have you stick your head in the sand, ready to rewrite history.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – This is the saddest thing I’ve read this week: it’s the removal instructions for bidders competing for the job of removing three Confederate statues in New Orleans.

In a disappointing decision last week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the go ahead for the removal of the monuments:

In the ruling, the three-judge panel with the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the groups trying to block the removal of the monuments, Monumental Task Committee and the Louisiana Landmarks Society, failed to present a case that contained a legal argument that showed the monuments should stay up. The court wrote that the groups relied on two legal claims, “both of which wholly lack legal viability or support.”

Immediately following the decision, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s team opened up the bidding process, this time with the promise of confidentiality for the bidders. The last time bids were solicited, things turned ugly when bidders were threatened and in once case a Lamborghini was torched.

In an interview with NPR on Saturday, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu said that it’s important to take the statues down for the reason that post-Katrina he and his staff decided to rebuild the city as “it always should have been and not the way that it’s been developed over time” – as if he is the only person that gets to decide that. Landrieu says the Robert E. Lee statue is there for the sole reason that Lee led an army against the United States of America for the purposes of telling African Americans that they were less than human.”  I contend that Mayor Landrieu needs a few history classes.

In an opinion piece at The Hayride, Mike Bayham points out that public opinion is “tepid” on removal:

Why the city of New Orleans seems to be in such a rush to knock [the monuments] off their respective pedestals is curious as 1) two polls conducted in the city showed only tepid support for removing the monuments (34% and 50%) and 2) the city has yet to figure out what to do with the statues.

It is unclear at this point what the next step will be. There is growing sentiment now that at least with regard to the Lee monument, which stands 16.5 feet tall atop a 68-foot tall pedestal, the city should be required to remove the entire pedestal, which it is reluctant to do.  Supporters do not want Landrieu to be able to plop a monument to a character of his own choosing atop the Lee pedestal.

Certainly once we begin to sanitize and remove history we are on a slippery slope. There is no end to it. Regardless of how one feels on the issue of the Confederacy, once we begin removing works of public art because of dissenting opinions we are no better than censors and become one with the propagandists who would have you stick your head in the sand, ready to rewrite history.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.