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

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.