By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Hello, slippery slope.  It didn’t take long for you to appear.

I’ve always noted that once the green light was given by the 5th Circuit to remove the New Orleans monuments that the slippery slope of further changes would break open. And so it has.

Read the list of names that activist group Take ‘Em Down NOLA wants changed because they celebrate white supremacy.

One is Touro Hospital.

Touro Hospital is named for Judah Touro, who was the son of Jewish immigrants and was born in Rhode Island. Touro fought in the Battle of 1812 and later worked in shipping, trade, and real estate. He lived a simple life and donated a lot of money across the country. In New Orleans one of his charitable works was to establish what would become Touro Hospital – the largest charity hospital in Louisiana.

But that’s racist, so it must go.

Tulane University must apparently change its name as well.

Why?  Because founder Paul Tulane donated large sums of money to the Confederate States of America.

Never mind that he gave large charitable donations to charities throughout New Orleans and that he worked to raise the quality of higher education in the city.

Most of the things on this list are absurd and I’d venture to say that 99.9% of the people in New Orleans don’t have one idea who Judah Touro was or who Lane Street is named for.  In fact, maybe we should quit calling the place in the road where one drives a “lane” – perhaps that too is racist.

There is still hope that some of this madness will end.  Two upcoming bills in the Louisiana Legislature may still protect these monuments and legacy names; similar bills have been successful in nearby states.

Even more bizarre is the fact that Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is the brainchild of this removal project, has no idea what will replace the monuments that come down nor how any new monument or art would be paid for:

This is perplexing because in every other instance when anyone wants to tear down a historic site or building, the proposed destroyer must have a plan in place for what will be replacing the historic site and why it is justifiable. A year a and a half later, the City Council has not called a meeting to discuss future artwork options.  None of the organizations—Historic District Landmarks Commission and Human Relations Commission—that rubber stamped Landrieu’s cause have called such a meeting. Nothing is planned.  No public discussions held.  No artists commissioned.  No money for new monuments mentioned.  Mitch is the man without a plan.

I’m sure Take’Em Down NOLA has some ideas but, well, there’s that slippery slope again.

 

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.

 

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As the descendant of a Confederate soldier and as a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, I have what I consider a vested interest in the Confederate monuments issue that has been raging ever since Dylan Roof decided to walk into a church in South Carolina and kill people. For the most part, nobody cared one iota whether there was a Confederate battle flag in front of the courthouse or a Robert E. Lee statue in the town square – in whatever city.  There were a few exceptions, but in general, nobody cared.

I’ve written on this issue at length both on this blog and my own so I won’t reiterate all of that (there’s plenty of reading material at that link), but let’s look at the state of things at this point.

Over at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw notes the resurrection of the Confederate battle flag at the Walhalla Confederate Memorial in South Carolina. This memorial is on private property and is maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Shaw is not very confident that the fact that this is on private property will silence the critics and I’m afraid he’s probably right. We seem to have lost all sense of reason on this issue.

Meanwhile, in Charlottesville, VA, another monument controversy is ongoing.  The city council there is debating whether to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Lee Park. I guess the next vote will be to change the name of the park?

The Robert E. Lee statue was built in 1924. Legal Analyst Scott Goodman says this might turn out to be more than just the state trying to enforce a state law.

“But also there’s going to be private lawsuits,” said Goodman. “The heirs of Mr. McIntire, who donated the land and donated the statues for a trust to be able to be kept in perpetuity. People can sue who are affected in that way, family members and so forth, to enforce the trust, to enforce the original agreement that brought the statues to that park to begin with.”

In New Orleans, activists on both sides of the issue are still awaiting the decision from the Fifth Circuit regarding the removal of four monuments in the city.

In Alabama, State Senator Gerald Allen plans to introduce the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act in hopes of preserving these endangered monuments.

In Florida, “Old Joe” has been standing on the grounds of the Alachua County Administration building in Gainesville since 1904. The statue of the Confederate soldier is now facing removal and perhaps donation to a local history museum. As one activist said, “It’s a symbol of slavery.”

Perhaps to him it is, but to others it’s a symbol of the sacrifices of ancestors who fought to defend hearth and home. The overwhelming majority of the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy did not own slaves and felt they were fighting for states’ rights. Why does one perception of a symbol get to override another? Why are we all so offended all of the time?

And in perhaps the lamest argument ever proffered against a monument, there’s this:

David Gold of Gainesville, an Army veteran who was an infantry soldier during the Vietnam War, said Confederate sympathizers should not be allowed to have a statue in downtown Gainesville.

“You Confederates lost the war, and you don’t get to have a statue in the middle of our small downtown,” Gold said.

Seriously? I just can’t even…

What is now seemingly a perpetual protest against anything related to the Confederacy seems to be having the opposite effect and unintended consequences for the protesters. Membership in heritage organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy is rising.  These and other organizations are fighting to preserve these monuments and their heritage. As in Walhalla, many of these organizations are now placing flags and monuments on private property. In Louisiana, one chapter of the Sons of Confederate veterans has purchased a plot of land along I-49 and will soon place a large flagpole and raise a Confederate battle flag.

In Orange, Texas, near the Texas/Louisiana border, the SCV is constructing the largest Confederate memorial ever built:

 In Orange, a small east Texas city on the Louisiana border, the privately funded Confederate Memorial of the Wind is nearing completion. With 13 large Greek columns and 26–32 Confederate flags, it will be the largest Confederate monument built in a century, according to the SCV.

Where this will all end we can only surmise, but perhaps it’s time for us to all figure out a way to live together peacefully, to respect each other despite our differences, and to focus on more important things. This is a slippery slope that has no end to the iconography that can and will be removed once this debate clears the courts, should it be successful.

In the end we are all Americans. The Civil War is over.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

 

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I have it on fairly good authority that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has their decision on the New Orleans Confederate monuments issue, however that decision has not yet been announced for various reasons. The Court received the case in September and some have speculated that the court is likely to affirm removal for the monuments. In mid-December, Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote to the Court requesting 24-hours notice before announcement of the decision so the police can get proper security manpower in place as riots and protests are expected regardless of the outcome. Perhaps the holdiays have postponed or delayed announcement of the decision but we can expect it very soon, I’m told.

Meanwhile, as the year draws to a close, New Orleans is on track post astounding murder rate figures with 172 murders as of this morning. And we still have New Years Eve to deal with.

This is however not a priority for Mayor Landrieu. Certainly once the monuments come down, those awful relics of the past that do nothing but incite unrest and division by towering over the city in their granite glory, the killings will stop, right?

Equality Circle – Photo via Mayor’s Office

Once the monuments come down and we whitewash and erase our past, we can all sit in “Equity Circles” like the one at Jefferson Davis Parkway and Cleveland streets. We can sit in a friendly Kumbaya style circle and stare at the compass in the center and wonder how we lost our way. We can look at the blank space where the Jefferson Davis monument stood just a half a block away and thank our lucky stars that the killings will stop now that we are sitting in landscaped equity circles.

This is NOT from The Onion but from the New Orleans Advocate:

Called the Equity Circle, the new monument — a set of four circular benches in a landscaped setting at Jefferson Davis Parkway and Cleveland Avenue — is described as a “landscaped gathering place and conversation circle.”

It is one of eight projects being created through Welcome Table New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s citywide initiative focused on race, reconciliation and community building, with a mission of promoting social change.

The circle not only contributes to the revitalization of New Orleans, organizers said, but it has a much deeper goal: to help right the wrongs of the city’s past and promote healing, peace and justice, by providing a place for residents to share stories, build relationships and learn from each other.

The Press Release from Mayor Landrieu’s office:

In collaboration with the Department of Parks and Parkways, the Equity Circle is designed to bring together diverse groups of New Orleanians to share stories and experiences, build relationships and learn from each other. The Equity Circle will create a more attractive neutral ground for the community and enhance the beauty of one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city. It will bring residents of all backgrounds and experiences together for one reason—to create a better, stronger New Orleans.

Liberal logic 101.

I suggest that once the 5th Circuit comes back with its decision, the mayor should have everyone gather in safe Equity Circles around town and then certainly there will be no more worries about protests or unrest over those nasty monuments.

If you need me, I’ll be banging my head against the wall in my safe room.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT –  “It will be back to business as normal. Nobody cares.”  That statement from a woman who has worked in the French Quarter for six years is simply tragic.

“Nobody cares.”

Early Sunday morning, around 1:40 a.m., ten people were shot near the intersection of Bourbon and Iberville in the historic French Quarter. The gunfire sent tourists and locals running in panic. Some of the clubs closed their doors to keep out the violence. One of the reported shooters is dead and there are several arrests. It’s a tragedy all around but the sad thing is that this happens in NOLA more often than not – it’s only when it gets close to the tourist areas that you hear about it.

New Orleans is a beautiful, culturally diverse, fascinating city. Under the guidance of mayor Mitch Landrieu it has degenerated into a violent, lawless disaster. I hate to say it because I love New Orleans. It’s a city that gets in your blood and lures you back. The food, the music, the eclectic street vendors, and the people above all, are for the most part intoxicating.

Sadly, the policies of Mayor Landrieu are going to kill the tourist trade if something isn’t done. Landrieu is more focused on things of lesser importance than the blood in the streets, things like removing monuments, for example. Landrieu spent much of 2015 fighting against the four major Confederate monuments in the city. I’ve written about that issue here, here, and here on this blog. Once that issue was safely nestled into the lengthy court dockets and appeals process, Landrieu moved on to gun control laws.  A decision on the monuments is imminent from the U.S. Court of Appeals and tensions are already high.

In April 2016, Landrieu proposed a new series of gun control laws which was passed and signed into law in September. Most of the ordinances are already on the books so it was an exercise in redundancy at best. New Orleans had 165 murders in 2015, up from 150 in 2014. As of October 17, 2016, NOLA is on pace to meet or exceed that number with 134 murders.  Note that number does not include shootings that don’t end up as murder statistics, such as those nine non-fatal victims in this most recent shooting.

Last week a commander of the police department issued a warning to women not to travel alone after dark in the city due to a rising number of robberies and car jackings:

“I would suggest to any female, if they can prevent it, do not travel alone overnight,” said Second District Commander Shaun Ferguson. “If you absolutely have to, stay on the phone with someone and let them know where you’re going. Keep them abreast of your whereabouts.”

A female college student from Tulane was carjacked early Tuesday when another car struck hers from the rear. As she got out of the car, three men from the other vehicle got out and one of them pushed her to the ground. That man got into her car, while the other two jumped into their vehicle and fled.

The Confederate monuments are clearly not the problem; the problem lies in Landrieu’s failure to address the violence in the streets in any meaningful fashion. In recent protests at Lee Circle after Trump’s election, vandals were tagging the monument and other prominent buildings with paint, setting fires on the lawn at the circle, blocking traffic, and running rampant through the streets. Unconfirmed reports were that Landrieu told police to stand down and let them “peacefully protest.”

There is a small group of citizens who watch over the monuments in New Orleans. They patrol nightly to ensure that no vandalism is occurring and should someone tag one of the monuments, the group removes it quickly. Citizens are policing their own city because the mayor has ginned up such hate and divisiveness that it’s the only way to protect the history and culture of the city.

And the locals are worried: with Mardi Gras season just around the corner, how will the increased violence affect tourism? Will it be safe to go into massive crowds to attend parades?  The comments on news reports of the most recent shooting indicate people’s anxiety:

“And this is why we no longer stay in NOLA…..Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his city council need to concentrate on crime and not on tearing down history….We will be staying in Biloxi next weekend for the Saints game! So sad……”

“New Orleans is out of control. Our Mardi Gras is going to be a blood bath if things don’t change and I don’t see a change coming.”

New Orleans is stuck with Mitch Landrieu until 2018.

That’s almost 200 more lives in the balance.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT  — There were protests in New Orleans Saturday, as promised, at Jackson Square and at other Confederate monument sites in the city.  The stated goal of these protests, organized by Take ‘Em Down NOLA and BLM, was to bring the monuments down with ropes, if necessary.

They did not succeed.

All of this new hullabaloo is in advance of the September 28 court hearing on the monuments this week.

The event began Saturday in Congo Square in the Treme section of New Orleans and hundreds of protesters began their march to the French Quarter and Jackson Square.  The group was comprised of people on both sides – some people were there in support of the monuments and others were opposed.

Interestingly, the Andrew Jackson monument was not one on Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s original hit list.  His initial targeted monuments were Lee Circle, Liberty Place monument, P.G.T. Beauregard monument, and the Jefferson Davis monument.

Upon arrival at Jackson Square, the protesters were met with mounted patrols who guarded entrance to the monument. Protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and some threw paint filled water balloons, much like the vandal that targeted our Confederate monument here in Shreveport a few months ago.  The estimate to remove the paint from the Shreveport monument is staggering and the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Shreveport are raising money to help cover the cost.  Because the paint soaks into the marble and granite, removal must be done with chemicals and care.

The night before the protests in New Orleans, the PGT Beauregard monument was tagged with red paint: “Burn ‘em Down.”  Local preservation groups got out quickly to clean the paint from the base of the monument.

There were about seven people arrested during the protests Saturday, mostly for disturbing the peace; two were arrested for fighting. One had a weapon.

After the protesters moved on from Jackson Square, they marched through the French Quarter and blocked traffic on Canal Street, and finally as it all disbursed and darkness descended on the city, monument watchers were in place through the night to ensure that no more vandalism or violence took place at each of the targeted monuments.

To say that this is a time of great tension in our southern cities is an understatement but after talking to the people that live in New Orleans, most are not concerned with the monuments and never pay them any attention. These protests and agitations are primed primarily by outside BLM groups whose main purpose is to create racial tension. Those monuments have stood for years without notice and without protest.

It all makes me very concerned for our shared history, our heritage (as American, not just north and south), and our future.

And now we wait for the September 28 hearing.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – The fight to preserve American History has now moved to Baltimore with the latest attack coming from the Special Commission to Review Baltimore’s Public Confederate Monuments.  Their recommendation is to move an equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson which depicts the two men right before the 1863 battle of Chancellorsville; another statue up for removal is of Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney who wrote the Dred Scott decision in 1857.

The Commission has elected to retain the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument and the Confederate Women’s Monument.

Cities across the South have been battling this issue on both public and private property for some time now and it is never without controversy. In New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been trying to rid the city of its Confederate monuments for two years without much success – so far.  The case has been tied up in the courts and is coming up for a federal court of appeals hearing on September 28; this upcoming date has renewed the controversy and the Take Em Down NOLA activist group is threatening to take the monuments down themselves with ropes.  Vandalism on the New Orleans monuments is a constant (although it wasn’t as bad until Landrieu started this campaign).

In Baltimore, the Special Commission has suggested adding signs to the monuments that present a new historical narrative “in today’s context.”  The Maryland Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has concerns about revisionist text and believes that the historical context should be accurate.  Who will write that text?

Add to all this monument controversy the new effort by the National Parks Service to create revisionist history of the Reconstruction period – again, an incredibly painful and inglorious time in our nation’s history.  The NPS has already

“…published a handbook for rangers and historians to ensure that “discredited legends” (like neo-Confederate claims that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery) don’t “stand in place of historical fact.”

And finally, consider the recent decision by the Tennessee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy who reluctantly accepted a deal from Vanderbilt University to rename Confederate Memorial Hall on their campus:

The final terms of that deal were announced Monday after anonymous donors gave $1.2 million toward that purpose. Despite the payout, the organization said it was “disappointed that an institution such as Vanderbilt University would attempt to whitewash, sanitize and rewrite American history.” University leaders, including Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, have said the word is being removed because of symbolic ties with racism and slavery that are painful for Vanderbilt’s increasingly diverse community.

It goes on and on and where will it end?  What is the ultimate goal here?  What will we have achieved once the word “confederate” is erased from our national consciousness?  Will racism and prejudice be eradicated once all the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are gone?

Racism and prejudice are learned behaviors.  They do not come from blocks of stone or from words carved into the name of a building.

When a nation attempts to rewrite its history only bad things will follow.

In the Baltimore study, Fitz Brundage, chairman of the history department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has said, “’Why would you have monuments to Lee and Jackson in Baltimore?” Mr. Brundage asked, calling the two men traitors to the U.S.”

I can only imagine what he says in his history classes.

And why in the world are we re-fighting the Civil War anyway?  Are we blaming all this on Dylann Roof?

The whole thing makes me sad and makes me wish Shelby Foote was still alive who once said this about the Confederate battle flag:

I can’t really argue with the people’s decision to remove it; if a constitutional body decides to remove the flag from a certain place, I can’t argue with that decision. I differ with it, but I can’t really argue with it because it’s a fait accompli. But to me the flag is a noble symbol, and I’m sorry to see it scorned. The confederacy stood for a great many things other than slavery. A dependent slavery is part of its right to decide what it wanted to do, but that was not what people fought the war about on either side. It was greatly contributory to starting the war and it was contributory to the North winning the war because of Lincoln’s definition as a war about slavery. It was not that in the first place or the last place. It was other things, many other things.

Much more than we can go into here; my point simply is that erasing it all changes nothing and only makes us ignorant and less informed.

Changing the name of a building changes nothing but the name of the building.

Only education can bring change and wisdom.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

monument
Detail of Caddo Parish Confederate monument

SHREVEPORT – Indulge me this week.  I’m so sick of national politics I just can’t bang out one more post on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or the uninformed masses who continue to believe that raising the minimum wage is the answer to our problems (sorry about that last one – someone on Facebook rattled my cage this morning).  Actually, Facebook is the devil.  Let’s don’t talk about that, either.

I’m finding my interests these days turning more to local issues and the snake pit that is our local government; this is not very good fodder for a blog like this one with national readers as a rule, so I save that stuff for my own blog.  However, we do have a sort of regional controversy going on around here as of late with the brouhaha over the Confederate monuments.  I’ve written about it here on this blog before, but I’m sharing this with you now as an example of the ever important principle of “unintended consequences.”

Here in Shreveport we have a term-limited local official who is bound and determined to remove the Confederate monument that stands outside our Caddo Parish courthouse before he leaves office.  He’s tried several times over the years to have it removed and has never been successful primarily because the little patch of land it stands on was donated to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1903. Although a formal deed was never recorded, the donation is recorded in the minutes of the Police Jury meeting when the land (and a $1,000 donation toward the commission of the monument) was given.

Back in those days people did business with a handshake and a good word, so it’s not surprising that a deed was never filed, but it would make things a bit more clear today.

Here is where the unintended consequences come in.  This local official is still pressing the monument issue and now it seems that the parish may not own the land upon which the courthouse sits at all.  There is a possibility that the land actually belongs to the heirs of a man named Larkin Edwards who was an interpreter for the Caddo Indians; the Caddo Indians were so fond of Mr. Edwards that they reserved and donated large parcels of land to him in their treaties with the government.

Talk about a can of worms…talk about unintended consequences…

We don’t know how all this is going to turn out: maybe it will just die on the vine as it has in years past, or maybe some attorney will grab hold of it and find some heirs to make a claim, or maybe some other resolution will be found.  In the end, it seems to me, that the only winners here will be the lawyers.

As to the issue of Confederate monuments, there have been pushes to remove them from public spaces and to change names of highways or schools named after Confederate generals.  As this blog attracts readers across the nation rather than just down here in the South, I am curious what the nation as a whole thinks of this.  Is it a movement to erase or revise history?  Do these monuments belong in front of courthouses or as in the case of New Orleans, in the middle of a traffic circle?

I’ve heard, but not yet researched, that there are movements to remove Union monuments in the North as well.

Curious what you think.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – The battle over the Confederate monuments in New Orleans is still ongoing and for now, the monuments aren’t going anywhere.

I began following this story back in December when Governor Mitch Landrieu garnered enough support from the City Council to remove the monuments.  The move was met with outrage from most of the citizens of the city and protests began. Landrieu’s stand is that the monuments create racial division in the city and need to go, a claim he is hard pressed to defend.  Opponents to the monument removal agree that crime in NOLA is at an all-time high but contend that the monuments themselves have nothing to do with that. They are interested in preserving the culture and history of the city and have taken to the courts to protect the monuments.

The issue hits home to me because I have ancestors that fought for the Confederacy and despite our national feelings on the tragedy of the Civil War, the lives of my ancestors mattered.

With Louisiana in a financial meltdown right now, this would seem a trivial issue, yet legislators are still offering bills to protect these monuments, and each one gets shot down. The most recent was sponsored by state Representative Thomas Carmody; his bill would have made it impossible to remove Confederate statues, symbols and names from public buildings without permission from a newly created state board. The bill is still in limbo as the committee voted (along racial lines) neither to kill the bill nor act on it.  Rep. Carmody is still looking for a way to get it before the House for a full vote.

The case against monument removal is currently before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal:

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal issued an order Friday morning (March 25) that prevents the city of New Orleans from taking down Confederate monuments while a lawsuit challenging its ability to do so makes its way through court.

U.S District Judge Carl Barbier had previously rejected a request to block city action while a federal lawsuit was being considered. The Monumental Task Committee, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and Beauregard Camp No. 130 maintain the city violated the U.S. and Louisiana constitutions when it declared three Confederate statues — of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard — were public nuisances.

This could drag on for a while.  Meanwhile, Landrieu can’t move the monuments and he can’t find a contractor that will take the job.

New Orleans is not the only city grappling with this problem.   It’s a controversy that has been going on for decades but after Dylann Roof killed nine people in South Carolina, the issue has taken center stage. Earlier this year, a special commission in Baltimore voted to remove two Confederate monuments and add historical context to two others.

And while cities across the south continue to battle this issue, one group is building a Confederate monument:

“…the Sons of Confederate Veterans are now nearing completion on a monument to their ancestors just off I-10, just this side of the Sabine and the Louisiana border.

Situated at the corner of I-10 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, “The Confederate Memorial of the Wind” will feature a walkway lined by the Confederate battle flag and those of several dozen (the count varies in every article) Texas regiments leading up to a circular monument composed of 13 columns honoring each of the Confederate states.”

In this case, the monument is going up on private property purchased by the Sons of  Confederate Veterans for $9,000.  Indeed, perhaps the only compromise in this monumental battle across the nation will be for groups to install these monuments on private lands.  But meanwhile, NOLA still fights.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – My ancestors on my mother’s side were originally from Castile, Spain; they settled in Natchez, Mississippi and then moved to Rapides Parish in central Louisiana where they were landowners and planters. One of those men was Joseph Welsh Texada who was a captain in the 8th Louisiana Cavalry and fought at Shiloh with the Crescent Regiment. I have heard the stories of my ancestral family for years from my mother, especially, who was always very proud of her Southern heritage and of her family’s distinguished background.

At Shiloh alone 23,000 lives were lost.  My ancestor survived and he went on to serve as a state representative and on his local Police Jury.  His life mattered.

The nationwide move to remove all Confederate symbols, monuments, history is simply appalling to me. Joseph Welsh’s life mattered and so did the lives of the 23,000 lost at Shiloh and the thousands at other battles.

In New Orleans, Governor Mitch Landrieu has won yet another battle to remove four iconic Confederate monuments in the city. Wednesday, January 27, an Orleans parish judge denied a request to halt removal of the monuments and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the decision the next day. And so the battle now moves to the Louisiana Supreme Court in what will be the last chance.  Until all appeals are exhausted, a group supporting monument preservation is continuing to collect signatures on a petition which currently has over 28,000 signatures. The large majority of NOLA residents is strongly against the removal.

New Orleans is, of course, not alone in this fight.  All across the nation history is being erased. There’s even been a move to remove the stained glass windows commemorating Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee from the National Cathedral in Washington. It’s also happening in Birmingham, and Atlanta. The University of Texas removed their statue of Jefferson Davis last year.  Many on the side of removal have suggested that these statues and monuments be placed in a sort of interactive historic park where people can still see them and learn about the history. This guy, for example, suggest that these “objects of hate” be put into a park similar to Memento Park in Budapest where images of Stalin, Lenin, and Guevara can be seen “in their proper context.”

My concern with that is who decides what the proper context is? I object to Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis being classified as an “object of hate” and in the same class as Lenin and Stalin. Quite a difference. If that’s the way these people view the Confederate generals, I have concerns about them writing “the proper context” for this suggested park.

Again I ask, where in the world does this stop? Thomas Jefferson had slaves: shall we tear down Monticello?  What of all the grand southern plantations still standing along the Mississippi River and throughout the South?  Shall we raze those and put up condominiums in their place?  Maybe we better stop the annual pilgrimage in Natchez. The Williamson Museum in Georgetown had an Old South Ball this weekend as a fundraiser which was also attended by about 100 protesters. Protesting a dance?  Like Footloose?  Why does your ancestry trump mine? It’s too much.

It all just defies logic.

It makes me sad.

It makes me want to fight harder to preserve my own heritage.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.