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Tearing Down Monuments to Treason in Defense of Slavery

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Above: Actual protestor for keeping up New Orleans monument to Jefferson Davis

New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu has a good op-ed on why his administration is eliminating the Confederate monuments polluting it.

But New Orleans was also America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of misery and torture. Our history is forever intertwined with that of our great nation — including its most terrible sins. We must always remember our history and learn from it. But that doesn’t mean we must valorize the ugliest chapters, as we do when we put the Confederacy on a pedestal — literally — in our most prominent public places.

The record is clear: New Orleans’s Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were erected with the goal of rewriting history to glorify the Confederacy and perpetuate the idea of white supremacy. These monuments stand not as mournful markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in reverence of it. They are an inaccurate recitation of our past, an affront to our present and a poor prescription for our future.

The right course, then, is to excise these symbols of injustice. The Battle of Liberty Place monument was not built to commemorate the fallen law enforcement officers of the racially integrated New Orleans police and state militia. It was meant to honor members of the Crescent City White League, the people who killed them. That kind of “honor” has no place in an American city. So, last month, we took the monument down.

This week, we began the removal of a statue honoring Davis, and soon thereafter Lee and Beauregard. It won’t erase history. But we can begin a new chapter of New Orleans’s history by placing these monuments, and the legacy of oppression they represent, in museums and other spaces where they can be viewed in an appropriate educational setting as examples of our capacity to change.

After we’re done moving these monuments, we’ll face an even greater task: coming together to decide who we are as a city — and as a nation. Over the past few years, before the monument removal effort, we began Welcome Table New Orleans, which facilitates tough conversations about race and brings various communities together on projects in their neighborhoods. As part of our work, residents have discussed and designed reconciliation projects, such as a mural and oral history project on what was once part of a plantation, as monuments to the future, not the past.

This is really great. Memphis has moved to get rid of its horrible Nathan Bedford Forrest statue but has been stopped by the lovely state government of Tennessee. I don’t know too much about the various laws and regulations over these statues in cities and states. I do know New Orleans’ response should be a model for the rest of the South to follow, expunging these monuments to white supremacy and racial violence.

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  • Snarki, child of Loki

    If the state prevents removing the statues, put a noose around their necks and shoot ’em up.

    It’s the condition that he models for the statues *should* have been in, after 1865.

  • tsam

    OFFS–wipe that fucking look off your face, lady.

    If this is the thing that makes you most worried, you’re doing pretty damn well compared to most others. Now fuck off back to suburbia and put another goddamn bumper sticker on your fucking Jeep.

    • Cheap Wino

      I know the words don’t say it but I see that sign and it says, “Hello, I’m an ignorant, racist hag.”

      • Mike G

        Such people do some service to the world by making themselves easily identifiable. She should join the ‘Get a brain morans’ redneck as a meme of ignorance.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” –Mel Brooks

      The phrase “white genocide” always reminds me of this quote.

      • tsam

        Yeah–the whole white persecution complex (it’s a package deal with zealous Christianity) is such an ugly side of the USA. That look on her face–she’s doing her best to mimic someone being hauled off for execution, and it turns down they’re just removing a statue of someone who SHOULD have been hauled off and executed.

  • Nick056

    I’ve dunked on people for doing this, but I feel compelled:

    She looks economically anxious.

    • waspuppet

      I was thinking the same thing. I think the New York Times needs to do a three-page story on her so I can understand her complex motivations.

  • Jordan

    good good good

    • tsam

      Let the butthurt flooooowwww through you….

  • NeonTrotsky

    I believe it was in Capital Volume 2 where Karl Marx said the first step towards revolution was to remove statues devoted to confederate generals, a mass uprising is clearly inevitable now. If only we had heeded this brave woman’s thoughtful warning.

  • Jackson87

    They must teach Marxism differently in Louisiana.

    • Hondo

      I don’t think they teach much of anything there.

      • Thom

        True. But in fairness, NOLA is very close to Mississippi, and she might be from there, where I suspect they teach even less.

        • Chetsky

          loWUT? Mississippi? No way, mang! My money’s on TEXAS, where:

          (1) Mrs. Scott taught us in 6th grade that the Garden of Eden exists in the Middle East

          (2) Mrs. Shoemake taught us that the flood happened in *senior* world history

          (3) Mrs. something-or-other-she-was-a-volleyball-coach taught us in “Health” that the myocardium was a wall of muscle surrounding and protecting the heart

          And it went downhill from there, but that’s all I remember.

          • tsam

            In my blue state, the first day of our Civil War unit in history was Mr Football Coach explaining that the cause of the war was economics, NOT SLAVERY. (Emphasis his).

            • Chetsky

              OK, yeah, I’ll give you that. Mr. Witherspoon (Am. Hist.) actually taught the civil war *somewhat* straight. He had to use the Texas State-approved textbook, but he didn’t embroider it with b.s. like -that-.

              In any case, I was joking about her being from Texas. Even growing up we understood that the -real- swamp creatures lived east of Nacogdoches, towards the Sabine River. And hence, that Lousiana was …. pretty scary. You know, Jasper (rest in peace, James Byrd).

              Got a (South Indian descent) friend, her bro drove thru Nacogdoches with a few white buddies (college friends). The stop for (self-serve) gas, the Indian guy gets out. White gas station says they’re outta gas. Indian guy gets back in the car, white guy gets out, the gas gets turned on. That was about 20yr ago, but gosh, don’t really want anybody to find out if it’s changed.

            • Mutombo

              Your football coach could have just been a really big Howard Zinn fan.

            • Linnaeus

              In my blue state

              Well, about half of it.

          • Thom

            Texas is very plausible. But I got the distorted picture of the Civil War (luckily not reinforced by my Louisiana-raised parents, who had the sense to emigrate to CA) in 11th grade in Baltimore (where we lived for a year), in 1971.

          • Linnaeus

            I blame the powerful teachers’ unions in Texas.

  • veleda_k

    I admit I did not expect the glorious people’s revolution to start in Louisiana, but good for them.

  • aturner339

    If there is one things Marxists the world over cannot abide it’s statues.

  • N__B

    After long thought, I’ve decided to amend my original position. Until this week, I felt that the statures should be removed and plaques erected to describe that there used to be grossly racist statues at those locations. My new positions is that the statues should be removed, their pedestals or plinths left in place, and plaques fastened to those otherwise empty bases to describe that there used to be grossly racist statues at those locations.

    • To make some spare change, municipalities could rent out space atop the plinths on a monthly basis, first come first served, with special priority awarded to life-sized protest puppets.

    • Ahuitzotl

      Personally I’d like to see them replaced with statues of Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Fred Hampton, and Bobby Seale. And rename Jeff Davis Blvd to Angela Davis Blvd (although I could compromise on Miles Davis Blvd, there)

  • Ya’ll’re worshiping a bunch of cop killers made a great letter amazing.

  • “Wake up America, Marxism is here” says lady who voted for Trumpo Marx, Groucho’s long lost dimwitted little brother.

    • tsam

      He’s the brother they hid in the basement. He was always “visiting his aunt”

  • Linnaeus

    Marxism is here

    A sawbuck says that this woman has never read anything that Marx actually wrote, outside of right wingers selectively quoting some things he did write.

    • veleda_k

      Heck, even then I’d give no more than even odds that Marx actually said whatever they’re selectively quoting.

  • brad

    I only wish the dear, traditionalist woman in the pic had a twitter so I could thank her for making my rainy day a little brighter with her sweet, sweet tears.
    I want to hear all about her disappointment, and for her to hear me laughing at it.

  • Matt McKeon

    Its a meme among the “heritage” crowd that moving these statues to a museum makes the mayor exactly like ISIS. There is no ceiling to the rhetoric these people employ.

    • waspuppet

      But remember, we’re the shrill ones.

  • Hondo

    Whenever I’ve looked at those pictures from the 50s and 60s of people shown screaming in protest against civil rights, desegregation, etc. I’ve wondered if any of their grandchildren ever recognized them and asked about it. How do you explain yourself after you have been immortalized in the racist hall of fame by having your face in your kid’s high school history book showing you on the wrong side?

    • BiloSagdiyev

      You think they’re on the wrong side, as do I. Their grandchildren are the screamers now.

  • heckblazer

    If they’re thinking of a replacement, I’d suggest Benjamin Butler.

    If there’s an insistence for using Southern heroes, I can also think of some they could use:

    Winfield Scott
    David Farragut
    Montgomery C. Meigs
    Cassius Marcellus Clay

    • Ahuitzotl

      the Rock of Chickamauga?

      But Spoons Butler is fucking inspired, I must say

  • Redwood Rhiadra

    Actual Marxists, of course, have no interest in taking down monuments to the Confederacy, as that’s just “idpol” and a distraction from the Class War Which Is The Only War.

  • agentX

    The history of Beauregard, Davis and Lee is complex. I’ve always felt that the statues of them don’t display their true greatness.

    Lee led the creation of public schools for freed slaves. Why isn’t there a statue of him holding a textbook? Far more awesome and accurate than him running around on a horse.

    Beauregard built the streetcar system in New Orleans. Why isn’t there a statue of him riding on top of a streetcar like the cowboy in Dr. Strangelove? Far more useful a tale than his war contributions.

    Davis, while born in New Orleans, led the Confederacy to defeat. Why isn’t there a statue of Grant and Johnson shaking his hand, thanking him for his poor leadership that paved the way for Northern victory?

    It’s like they put up the wrong statues. Gee…I wonder why…

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