Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I Wrote Too Soon – New Orleans WILL Take Down The Monuments



Unlike Jefferson Parish’s Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni, I’m a big enough person to admit when I’ve made a mistake.

Thankfully, it doesn’t happen that often.

In my last post, I wrote about Yale University renaming Calhoun College and the parallel with New Orleans attempting to remove historic monuments and rewrite history.

I noted that a Judge had stopped the attempt.

Yesterday, a different Judge overruled the second Judge’s ruling and will allow three of the four monuments in question to be removed.

So, while I wasn’t really wrong, I did write too soon.

Kind of like the blogging equivalent of a premature ejaculation.

Hey, there’s no shame in that. Many of us have been there before at one time or another.

The three are all Civil War related and have stood prominently in New Orleans for over a decade. The fourth, a plaque that commemorates a white supremacist group that led an uprising against Louisiana’s post-Civil War reconstruction government, is involved in separate litigation.

Soon the statues of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis will be removed and placed in a less conspicuous area TBD.

I understand how some might find the monuments offensive – to some,  they represent a commemoration of slavery and oppression. Slavery should not be revered.

But the Civil War was about more than slavery and, in this overly sensitive PC world we must navigate through, anyone can find fault with anything.

Don’t believe me – take a look at Facebook on any given day.

For the past 8 years, if you were against former President Obama, you were considered a racist. If you were against ObamaCare, you were a racist and against the poor.

Now, if you are for President Trump, you’re a white supremacist. If you’re for a border wall and immigration reform, you’re anti-Hispanic.

When is this nonsense going to end?

If you examine the history of any country or any ethnic group, you can find things to not be proud of.

However Lee, Beauregard and Davis did not invent slavery.

Black slaves were brought to America by European slave traders and slavery, in some form, has been around almost since the beginning of time.

The Code of Hammurabi (c. 1750 B.C.) mentions slavery.

“Law #15: "If any one take a male or female slave of the court, or a male or female slave of a freed man, outside the city gates, he shall be put to death.”

Ancient Greeks, Romans and Eqyptians were all involved in the different variations of slavery using captured war prisoners as slaves, using slaves as personal servants and you could even be enslaved if you had too much debt.

Better pay off those credit cards.  

Are we going to boycott Italian Restaurants, stop visiting Greece and Egypt and cut up our Visa Cards?

America didn’t invent slavery and slavery didn’t end with the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.

In fact, in 1930’s Ethiopia, there were an estimated 2 Million slaves.

If you don’t know, Ethiopia is in Africa.

In addition to Ethiopia, which abolished slavery for good in 1942 (although occupying Italian forces in 1935 abolished it first), Nigeria was a major slave country until 1936.

Nigeria is also in Africa.

Last year, we celebrated the Olympics in Rio. Did you know that slavery wasn’t abolished in Brazil until 1888?

Better tell our guys to give back all those medals. 

The fact is, you would be hard pressed to find a country or a culture that didn’t have slavery in some form.Even some religions have slavery in their history.

No, America didn’t invent slavery and I’m clearly not advocating for a return to slavery. What I am saying is, slavery is a part of American history whether you or I like it or not. We cannot rewrite history or only teach the history that makes us look good and feel proud.


“The white man did not introduce slavery to Africa . . . . And by the fifteenth century, men with dark skin had become quite comfortable with the concept of man as property . . . . Long before the arrival of Europeans on West Africa’s coast, the two continents shared a common acceptance of slavery as an unavoidable and necessary—perhaps even desirable—fact of existence. The commerce between the two continents, as tragic as it would become, developed upon familiar territory. Slavery was not a twisted European manipulation, although Europe capitalized on a mutual understanding and greedily expanded the slave trade into what would become a horrific enterprise . . . . It was a thunder that had no sound. Tribe stalked tribe, and eventually more than 20 million Africans would be kidnapped in their own homeland.”

So, if even the Left-leaning PBS doesn’t blame white America for slavery, why are we taking down monuments of white men and with all of the problems facing New Orleans why is Mitch Landrieu pushing for the monument removal?

Politics.

Clearly fixing the horrendous condition of New Orleans’ streets,  reducing crime, or providing a corruption-free government doesn’t rally your base and increase your notoriety.
Those are things that an elected official should be expected to do.

But, they don’t generate votes.

And, that’s sad.

At some point, we need to start holding our elected officials to a higher standard and stop electing, re-electing and promoting politicians that are only interested in keeping their jobs and eyeing their next job.

We need to hold our elected officials accountable and not let them duck, dodge, deflect, rewrite and reframe the issues.

Yes, Robert E. Lee owned slaves. He never purchased them, they were inherited. While that doesn’t make things better, it is important to note that Lee freed his slaves in 1862, BEFORE the Civil War ended and BEFORE Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

In fact, after the South’s defeat, Lee supported President Johnson’s Reconstruction Plan.

Lee did the right thing, albeit belatedly. But, he did the right thing.

What did Robert E. Lee think about slavery? In an 1856 letter, Lee wrote:

“There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil.”  

One can certainly debate Lee, Beauregard (a New Orleans resident) and Davis’ influence on New Orleans and their “worthiness” to be commemorated with monuments.

But, that’s another discussion.

In a statement after the court ruling allowing the monument removal, Landrieu said,

"This win today will allow us to begin to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future."

Excuse me?

How does taking down monuments  from the late 1800’s dedicated to one of America’s greatest military generals (Lee); a New Orleans resident nicknamed “Little Creole” who commanded the attack at  Ft. Sumter and officially began the Civil War (Beauregard); and a former Mississippi Congressman and Senator, Secretary of War, and the first (and only) President of the Confederate States, make New Orleans more inclusive?

Now, if you want to take down Beauregard’s monument because he was a major promoter of the Louisiana Lottery (from 1877 until it was closed in 1892 when the people of Louisiana’s opposition to government sponsored gambling grew), I may support you but the inclusive claim is nonsense.

Our history is our history, the good and the bad, and we must own it.

It is only by knowing our history that we can better prepare for our future.

When we can stop talking about race/gender/ethnicity/sexual orientation and all of the other garbage that drives division in our communities, then we can "chart the course for a more inclusive future". 

Until that day comes, fix the damn potholes Mitch.

Do YOUR job and let history speak for itself.

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