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

SHREVEPORT – New Orleans residents are grieving the loss of former Saints defensive end Will Smith who was shot and killed following what is being described as a road rage incident in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans Saturday night.  Smith was shot in his back and right torso after being rear-ended by an orange Hummer; witnesses describe a verbal altercation before hearing shots fired. Smith died in his SUV while his wife sustained a shot to the leg and was found on the ground when emergency vehicles arrived. The suspect is in custody and has been charged with second degree murder.  Smith’s wife is expected to recover from her injuries.

What really happened will unfold in the coming days. Smith and his wife had been at Sake Café where they were joined by a retired NOLA police officer who had been involved in a wrongful death lawsuit with 28-year old Cardell Hayes, Smith’s shooter.  Parties involved say there is no connection but it sounds like an odd coincidence.

It’s a horrible tragedy – Smith and his wife have three children who will now have to grow up without his love and guidance. Smith was popular among his coaches and teammates who are now grieving also.  New Orleans is known to be a unique city with its culture, food, festivals, and historic import, but like many other large American cities, NOLA deals with senseless violence and crime. When one of the very important sources of revenue for your city involve tourist dollars, as it does in New Orleans, this is a problem. Not to say that senseless violence isn’t always a problem, it is; but in the case of New Orleans, there are other problems on the table.

Governor Mitch Landrieu has raised the ire of many local residents for seeming to be more concerned about matters not related to reducing the exploding crime rate in the city. In 2014, the city celebrated the lowest murder rate in four decades, but in 2015 the murder rate began to climb again with a total of 165 in 2015.  The police force has a 73-minute response time on average due to a large manpower shortage.

What is Governor Landrieu doing to address this problem?  Late last year he tried getting gang members together and talked to them about choosing another career path.  That strategy wasn’t successful so Landrieu’s next target was the city’s Confederate monuments: they must be the cause of the racial division in NOLA.  Yet that plan has fostered more anger and outrage among the city’s longtime residents who know that the history and culture of New Orleans is one of the main tourist draws.  Landrieu’s favorability rating has plummeted among white residents while it has risen among the city’s black residents, furthering racial division in the city.  Many residents are fed up with the fact that Landrieu seems more concerned with removing monuments and building bike paths rather than solving the problems in the police department and lowering the crime rate.

While Mitch Landrieu certainly didn’t pull the trigger on Will Smith Saturday night, one has to hope that this terrible tragedy will get his attention and force him to reevaluate his priorities and do something to reduce the frustrations and violence in the city.  What happened to Will Smith and his family is as tragic and senseless. That he played for the New Orleans Saints gives him a higher profile but he was a son, a father, and a husband who did not deserve to be gunned down in the middle of the street on a Saturday night.  Nobody deserves that.  It’s time for Governor Landrieu to clean his city up.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By: Pat Austincen

P.G.T. Beauregard monument

SHREVEPORT – I wrote in this space a few weeks ago about the controversy surrounding the removal of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans.  To recap briefly, Mayor Mitch Landrieu (brother of “Katrina Mary” Landrieu) has organized the removal of monuments commemorating P.G.T. Beauregard, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Liberty Monument. The Times-Picayune has photos and descriptions of each monument here. In the place of the Jefferson Davis monument, Mayor Landrieu would also like to rename Jefferson Davis Parkway in honor of a retired Xavier University president.

The City Council voted 6-1 in support of the monument removal despite public outcry from a majority of the NOLA citizens and local preservationists.  Immediately after the Council’s vote, a federal lawsuit was filed to prevent removal despite the fact that Mayor Landrieu already had contractors in place to begin removal immediately.

So where are we today? The case is garnering national attention and has been covered by The New York Times, the New York Post, and The Atlantic as well as attracting the attention of bloggers throughout the country.

Last week preservationists made their case in court:

During the two hour and 30-minute hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier heard arguments after several plaintiffs, including the Monumental Task Force, went to court to block the city’s plan to remove four Confederate monuments.

Preservationists are looking for an injunction, stopping the city from removing the statues of Robert E. Lee, P.T.G. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and the Liberty Place monument, which city attorneys called “monuments to white supremacy” during the hearing.

“It looked to me like the city was on stronger ground,” said Donald “Chick” Foret, WWL-TV legal analyst. “The preservationists are on very weak ground. They don’t have any law, they don’t have any evidence. The judge was searching trying to find some jurisdiction. To get into this building, you’ve got to have federal jurisdiction, some federal law that applies, and the judge said he just didn’t see it.”

If the judge does in fact toss the lawsuit, the only recourse preservationists will have will be in state court, an avenue they will certainly pursue.  Meanwhile, Landrieu’s crews are out taking measurements and preparing to go ahead with removal once the injunction preventing that is lifted.

Landrieu will have to find a new company to do the removal, however, as the first crew he hired has walked off the job after having received death threats.

Yesterday, a small group of protestors was at the Beauregard statue making their case; photographers and tourists are snapping photos of the monuments in their rightful setting before they are removed.

My question is this: where does this stop? On a national level, where does this stop?  If the case is, as the city attorney says, that these are “monuments to white supremacy,” are the old plantations next?

I’m really trying to see both sides of this but as a student of history I just can’t see it in this case; I find it extremely difficult to believe that someone walked by the statue of Beauregard one day and said, “Damn, I’m really offended by that.”  Someone, at some point, decided we should all be offended and so here we are.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed an amicus brief in support of the monument removal, again citing the white supremacy argument. The SPLC is an organization that preaches tolerance, something they seem to be short on in this case.

Perhaps we need these statues to remember what happens to a country when differing opinions and perceptions tear us apart.

Perhaps we all need to practice a little tolerance.

It’s always important to follow the money. Landrieu has said that the city of NOLA will not be paying for the removal, that this won’t cost the city one dime, however, the identity of his benefactor is a secret.  Who is paying for this?

An anonymous donor has agreed to foot the bill for the removal of four Confederate-related statues, the city announced in a letter this week to the New Orleans City Council.

It will cost an estimated $144,000 to remove and transport the statues of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis, as well as a monument to the Battle of Liberty Place, according to the letter. The donor agreed to pay for the entire operation.

The slippery-slope aspect of the whole operation concerns me. Just because some aspects of our history are ugly and unpleasant, we can’t erase them. We are to learn from them; we are to honor the sacrifices of our ancestors whatever they were, and we are to always remember. If we sanitize and attempt to erase history we are greatly diminishing our ability to learn from it.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – The city of New Orleans is generally a city of laid-back attitudes and a live-and-let-live sort of philosophy, however you’d be hard pressed to find that attitude on the city council, apparently.

Liberal Democrat mayor Mitch Landrieu is on a mission to wrap New Orleans in a blanket of political correctness and has garnered enough support from the City Council to begin his campaign to rewrite history in the South.  In a 6-1 vote last week, the council supported Landrieu’s motion to remove three historic Confederate monuments in New Orleans.

Jeff Crouere sums up the controversy best:

Prior to the vote, the arrogant and pompous Landrieu had already lined up contractors to remove the monuments. Fortunately, his plans have at least been temporarily halted by a federal lawsuit filed by four organizations concerned about historic preservation.

In fact, all New Orleans residents should be concerned about preserving these monuments. They reflect an important part of the city’s involvement in the Civil War, one of the most influential periods of our nation’s history. Removing the monuments will not destroy the evils of slavery. It will not give equal rights to African Americans or other minority groups. It is only a feel good gesture that is being pushed by a Mayor who is using the issue to promote his political career.

It is absurdity in its highest form.

In a statement, Landrieu said “These symbols say who we were in a particular time, but times change. Yet these symbols — statues, monuments, street names and more — still influence who we are and how we are perceived by the world.”

Not everyone in New Orleans supports this nonsense; there is a petition calling for Landrieu’s recall.   Many in New Orleans wish Landrieu would focus more on the rampant crime, the steadily climbing murder rate, and the fact that the city has lost 500 officers since Landrieu took office in 2010.

Shortly after Landrieu signed the ordinance to remove the offending monuments, a federal lawsuit was filed halting Landrieu’s plans to erase history:

Hours after Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed a controversial ordinance to declare four Confederate monument public nuisances, a group of preservationists filed a federal lawsuit looking to stop their removals before they can begin….“The Lee Monument, the Beauregard equestrian monument, the Jefferson Davis monument and the Liberty Monument were explicitly erected to preserve, foster and promote the historic and cultural origins of the citizens of New Orleans and the residents of Louisiana,” the suit reads.

Where in the world will it end?  As I wrote in this space last week, this offended culture that we live in has reached new extremes.  Must we now rename and remove everything that might offend some group?  If that’s the case let me start the list: I’m offended by a whole lot of things right now.

The City of New Orleans is a cultural treasure with a rich and varied history.  It boggles the mind to think what New Orleans would look like if we went through and erased everything that might offend someone there.

Mitch Landrieu, like his sister Mary, is a self-promoting, arrogant, and ignorant liberal who is motivated by some misplaced idea of the Landrieu legacy and their own self-importance.

As sad as it would be to remove these landmark monuments, the bigger concern to me is where will it end?  I’ve lived in the South all of my life and it is MY history, my culture, my heritage.  I was taught to preserve history, to protect those monuments, restore historic homes, preserve legends, stories, documents, books, and memories that all weave together to make us who we are as individuals and as a culture.  It’s not all pretty; you take the good with the bad.  That is the case everywhere.

I guess Landrieu and his ilk wants us all to live in an Orwellian vanilla Big Brother land where one city looks like another and nobody’s feathers are ruffled, where there are no differences, no individuality, all the lines are blurred.  Why would anyone want to come to New Orleans if it looks just like everywhere else?  What are we offended by next?  Mardi Gras?  Crawfish?  St. Louis Cathedral?  The street cars?  Boudin?

Mitch Landrieu ran for, and was elected to, the office of Mayor of a large, culturally diverse Southern city.  It’s time he acted like he had some pride in the city that put him into office.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.