By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – I read Tim Imholt’s post a few days ago on this blog with great interest. I’ve done more than my fair share of “monument blogging” to the point that I’m wary of ever writing about another monument in my life, but it is a cause I think is important.
Tim makes a great point and one I appreciate; the media wants us to be freaked out about this. They want controversy, they want protests, they want huge crowds of protesters with signs and firearms. Drama sells.
I watched the “protests” in Dallas, too. It made me sad to see the statue removed. I didn’t know the Robert E. Lee replica house was back there and that makes me feel a little better.
In Shreveport, I have been a little anxious as we have a “rally” coming up in a week or so. There’s been a “call out” on social media for attendance (on both sides) at a rally around our Confederate monument.
Our case is a little different that those we are seeing nationwide. Shreveport’s monument is on private land that just so happens to be in front of the courthouse. The land was given to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1903 along with a $1,000 donation for the monument, and all this is recorded in the minute books of the governing body at the time, the Police Jury. Our monument was commissioned in 1905 and dedicated in 1906.
So removing it is a bit more of a problem for opponents than in other cities. The issue is now in the courts.
As far as the protests though, everyone saw what happened in New Orleans. The problem there is that many locals didn’t want the monuments there removed. Poll after poll proved that; of course a few did, but most did not. The protests we saw on television and social media were driven by outside agitators. One lady came from Oklahoma, dressed in Confederate garb and carrying a battle flag; as much as I admire her dedication and spirit, she was not from NOLA. Another woman was from Florida and a man from Oklahoma. These people brought protesters out in force because of their high-profile social media status and then comes the media.
What happens then is that perception is distorted. In truth, on a local level, these monuments have stood with dignity and peace for over a hundred years in many cases. This sudden outrage is questionable. The local people, as we saw in Dallas, aren’t outraged. These monuments are part of their landscape and most people don’t even know what they are or who they represent, it’s just “a guy on a horse.”
A while back, an attorney in Shreveport appealed his convicted client’s case because the attorney said the monument interfered with the man’s right to a fair trial. (He lost the appeal).
Shame on the media for perpetuating this nonsense. Let the locals decide what they want to do with their monuments and stop encouraging the frenzy.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.