Report from Louisiana: Another Monument Down

Readability

Report from Louisiana: Another Monument Down

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – Another week, another Con­fed­er­ate era mon­u­ment gone. In the early morn­ing hours Thurs­day morn­ing, the twenty-​five foot bronze statue of Con­fed­er­ate Pres­i­dent Jef­fer­son Davis was ripped from its gran­ite pedestal by city crews (which one again included city fire­fight­ers) hid­ing behind masks as mon­u­ment sup­port­ers who had stood vigil all night long qui­etly sang “Dixie.” Some stood and solemnly saluted the des­e­crated statue of Davis as the statue was low­ered onto a rented flatbed truck..

Crews gath­ered around the statue just after mid­night, par­tially wrapped the statue’s mid-​section in green bub­ble wrap, tied a thick yel­low strap around the torso, and lifted the statue, Davis’s arm point­ing at both demon­stra­tors and sup­port­ers as the statue twirled in mid-​air. A makeshift crate was placed around Davis and crews low­ered the statue onto the back of a flatbed truck and hauled it off to an undis­closed warehouse.

The pedestal is another mat­ter – it took the untrained city con­trac­tors sev­eral more hours to fig­ure out how to remove the heavy gran­ite pedestal which sat most of the morn­ing with a limp strap around it while engi­neers phoned into tele­vi­sion sta­tions warn­ing that if it was lifted it would prob­a­bly tip the truck over. It is as if Jef­fer­son Davis him­self was mock­ing them, declar­ing his right to be there as the inscrip­tion on the pedestal reads, “His name is enshrined in the hearts of the peo­ple for whom he suf­fered, and his deeds are for­ever wed­ded to immortality.”

Arlene Bar­num was there. She came to New Orleans as soon as Mayor Lan­drieu had Lib­erty Place mon­u­ment removed three weeks ago; she’s been stand­ing guard at the Jef­fer­son Davis mon­u­ment day in and day out with a grow­ing crowd of sup­port­ers. Arlene is a 63-​year old black woman from Okla­homa, an Army vet­eran, and a woman with Con­fed­er­ate ances­tors from north Louisiana. She felt that as “the one and only pres­i­dent of the Con­fed­er­acy,” she was oblig­ated to stand with Davis. As she stood at the mon­u­ment, Arlene has been called a vari­ety of racial slurs: “Aunt Jemima” seems to have been the most offen­sive to her. Her truck tires were slashed, her cell phone was knocked from her hand as she tried to live stream, and she has gone with­out much sleep.

Arlene has been dubbed “Gen­eral Arlene” by some of the other mon­u­ment sup­port­ers stand­ing guard with her, and they have fol­lowed her lead. She has encour­aged peace­ful protest and non-​violence. “Fly those flags high,” she would shout, “Keep ‘em up! Don’t let that flag touch the ground!” Pas­tor Larry Beane from Salem Lutheran Church led the crowd in a prayer ser­vice before the city work­ers came to dis­man­tle the monument.

Mitch Lan­drieu spent the evening hob­nob­bing with donors at the home of Mary Matalin and James Carville for Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA Pac.

Thurs­day morn­ing Lan­drieu issued a state­ment:

After nearly two years of plan­ning and court bat­tles, City offi­cials began the process today of remov­ing the three remain­ing mon­u­ments that promi­nently cel­e­brate the “Lost Cause of the Con­fed­er­acy.” The stat­ues that are being removed were erected decades after the Civil War to cel­e­brate the “Cult of the Lost Cause,” a move­ment rec­og­nized across the South as cel­e­brat­ing and pro­mot­ing white supremacy.

There are four promi­nent mon­u­ments in ques­tion. The Bat­tle of Lib­erty Place mon­u­ment, which was removed three weeks ago, was erected by the Cres­cent City White League to remem­ber the deadly insur­rec­tion led by white suprema­cists against the City’s racially inte­grated police depart­ment and gov­ern­ment. The statue com­ing down today is the Jef­fer­son Davis statue on Jef­fer­son Davis Park­way. The stat­ues slated to come down next include the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Cir­cle and the P.G.T. Beau­re­gard eques­trian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park.

Three weeks ago, we began a chal­leng­ing but long over­due process of remov­ing four stat­ues that honor the ‘Lost Cause of the Con­fed­er­acy.’ Today we con­tinue the mis­sion,” said Mayor Mitch Lan­drieu. “These mon­u­ments have stood not as his­toric or edu­ca­tional mark­ers of our legacy of slav­ery and seg­re­ga­tion, but in cel­e­bra­tion of it. I believe we must remem­ber all of our his­tory, but we need not revere it. To lit­er­ally put the Con­fed­er­acy on a pedestal in some of our most promi­nent pub­lic places is not only an inac­cu­rate reflec­tion of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad pre­scrip­tion for our future. We should not be afraid to con­front and rec­on­cile our past.”

There is much about this state­ment that I per­son­ally find dis­turb­ing. Mayor Lan­drieu shows his gross gap of his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge and research when he con­tends that the mon­u­ment were erected to cel­e­brate and pro­mote white supremacy. That could not be more wrong.

The major­ity of the Con­fed­er­ate era mon­u­ments across the South were funded by memo­r­ial asso­ci­a­tions and by the Daugh­ters of the Con­fed­er­acy to honor their war dead. They wanted to honor the sons and hus­bands that would never come home, many of whom were buried in places unknown. Addi­tion­ally, the mon­u­ments were intended to be instruc­tional and to serve as his­tor­i­cal reminders of that war, to teach future gen­er­a­tions. For Lan­drieu to slant their intent in such a way is flatly irresponsible.

Landrieu’s state­ment goes on to say that “we must remem­ber all of our his­tory, but we need not revere it.” Who is he to tell us what we can and can not revere? Who made him the moral judge of society?

And when he calls the Con­fed­er­acy “an inac­cu­rate reflec­tion of our past,” what is he say­ing about my ances­tors that fought in that war? About the thou­sands of other men and boys who fought in that war on both sides?

Finally, when Lan­drieu says, “we should not be afraid to con­front and rec­on­cile our past,” let me just sug­gest that he is MOST afraid of it or he wouldn’t have our past crated up in the dark of night and hauled off to some undis­closed warehouse.

Rumors are that he will sell the mon­u­ments to Whit­ney Plan­ta­tion where they will be mocked and derided as relics of men who defended slav­ery. So much for pre­sent­ing an accu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of history.

Still to come down in New Orleans is the P.G.T. Beau­re­gard mon­u­ment and the Robert E. Lee mon­u­ment. The protests and vio­lence will con­tinue, and the rift between groups grows wider.

As New Orleans scrapes away every­thing that once made it unique and his­toric, it will soon become just like any other city in Amer­ica and there will be no rea­son to go visit. It is being turned over to the Antifa lib­er­als and now has a higher homi­cide rate than Chicago, but please, let’s worry about mon­u­ments instead.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Another week, another Confederate era monument gone.  In the early morning hours Thursday morning, the twenty-five foot bronze statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was ripped from its granite pedestal by city crews (which one again included city firefighters) hiding behind masks as monument supporters who had stood vigil all night long quietly sang “Dixie.” Some stood and solemnly saluted the desecrated statue of Davis as the statue was lowered onto a rented flatbed truck..

Crews gathered around the statue just after midnight, partially wrapped the statue’s mid-section in green bubble wrap, tied a thick yellow strap around the torso, and lifted the statue, Davis’s arm pointing at both demonstrators and supporters as the statue twirled in mid-air.  A makeshift crate was placed around Davis and crews lowered the statue onto the back of a flatbed truck and hauled it off to an undisclosed warehouse.

The pedestal is another matter – it took the untrained city contractors several more hours to figure out how to remove the heavy granite pedestal which sat most of the morning with a limp strap around it while engineers phoned into television stations warning that if it was lifted it would probably tip the truck over. It is as if Jefferson Davis himself was mocking them, declaring his right to be there as the inscription on the pedestal reads, “His name is enshrined in the hearts of the people for whom he suffered, and his deeds are forever wedded to immortality.”

Arlene Barnum was there. She came to New Orleans as soon as Mayor Landrieu had Liberty Place monument removed three weeks ago; she’s been standing guard at the Jefferson Davis monument day in and day out with a growing crowd of supporters. Arlene is a 63-year old black woman from Oklahoma, an Army veteran, and a woman with Confederate ancestors from north Louisiana. She felt that as “the one and only president of the Confederacy,” she was obligated to stand with Davis. As she stood at the monument, Arlene has been called a variety of racial slurs: “Aunt Jemima” seems to have been the most offensive to her. Her truck tires were slashed, her cell phone was knocked from her hand as she tried to live stream, and she has gone without much sleep.

Arlene has been dubbed “General Arlene” by some of the other monument supporters standing guard with her, and they have followed her lead. She has encouraged peaceful protest and non-violence.  “Fly those flags high,” she would shout, “Keep ‘em up! Don’t let that flag touch the ground!” Pastor Larry Beane from Salem Lutheran Church led the crowd in a prayer service before the city workers came to dismantle the monument.

Mitch Landrieu spent the evening hobnobbing with donors at the home of Mary Matalin and James Carville for Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA Pac.

Thursday morning Landrieu issued a statement:

After nearly two years of planning and court battles, City officials began the process today of removing the three remaining monuments that prominently celebrate the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy.” The statues that are being removed were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the “Cult of the Lost Cause,” a movement recognized across the South as celebrating and promoting white supremacy.

There are four prominent monuments in question. The Battle of Liberty Place monument, which was removed three weeks ago, was erected by the Crescent City White League to remember the deadly insurrection led by white supremacists against the City’s racially integrated police department and government. The statue coming down today is the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway. The statues slated to come down next include the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle and the P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park.

“Three weeks ago, we began a challenging but long overdue process of removing four statues that honor the ‘Lost Cause of the Confederacy.’ Today we continue the mission,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it. I believe we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it. To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in some of our most prominent public places is not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future. We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past.”

There is much about this statement that I personally find disturbing. Mayor Landrieu shows his gross gap of historical knowledge and research when he contends that the monument were erected to celebrate and promote white supremacy. That could not be more wrong.

The majority of the Confederate era monuments across the South were funded by memorial associations and by the Daughters of the Confederacy to honor their war dead. They wanted to honor the sons and husbands that would never come home, many of whom were buried in places unknown. Additionally, the monuments were intended to be instructional and to serve as historical reminders of that war, to teach future generations. For Landrieu to slant their intent in such a way is flatly irresponsible.

Landrieu’s statement goes on to say that “we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it.” Who is he to tell us what we can and can not revere? Who made him the moral judge of society?

And when he calls the Confederacy “an inaccurate reflection of our past,” what is he saying about my ancestors that fought in that war? About the thousands of other men and boys who fought in that war on both sides?

Finally, when Landrieu says, “we should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past,” let me just suggest that he is MOST afraid of it or he wouldn’t have our past crated up in the dark of night and hauled off to some undisclosed warehouse.

Rumors are that he will sell the monuments to Whitney Plantation where they will be mocked and derided as relics of men who defended slavery. So much for presenting an accurate representation of history.

Still to come down in New Orleans is the P.G.T. Beauregard monument and the Robert E. Lee monument. The protests and violence will continue, and the rift between groups grows wider.

As New Orleans scrapes away everything that once made it unique and historic, it will soon become just like any other city in America and there will be no reason to go visit. It is being turned over to the Antifa liberals and now has a higher homicide rate than Chicago, but please, let’s worry about monuments instead.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.