By Robert Mann
Let us consider Louisiana’s Monuments Men. I don’t mean the intrepid Allied team that protected valuable pieces of art and other artifacts from the Nazis during World War II. As the book (and the 2014 movie) of the same name documented, these were courageous individuals who kept the Germans from stealing many of Europe’s treasures.
I’m talking about the Confederate fanboys (and women) who populate the Louisiana House. These are the cowards who voted to override local governments that wish to rid themselves of racist statues and memorials honoring treasonous Confederate generals.
Last Monday (May 15), 65 House members — all of them white — voted for legislation, House Bill 71, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, that would require local governments to hold citywide referenda before they can alter, remove, relocate or destroy any memorial, plaque, statue or monument on public property that commemorates any of 12 American wars.
Slipping the Civil War into a list that includes the American Revolution and World War II was a crafty and dishonest effort to obscure the racist, pro-Confederate intent of Carmody’s legislation. Perhaps Carmody deserves credit for not citing “the War of Northern Aggression.” Instead, he uses an equally offensive title, “the War Between the States.”
More accurate is the “Treasonous Southern War to Preserve Slavery,” for that is why the Confederates tried to destroy the U.S. government. If you don’t believe me, consult the various secession resolutions adopted by Southern states after Abraham Lincoln’s election.
Carmody and his House confederates were pandering to the misguided historical revisionists who defend the statues and memorials in New Orleans, Shreveport and elsewhere as a valorous effort to preserve the South’s heritage. That argument gives new and precise meaning to the phrase “white trash,” for the racist demonstrations at New Orleans’ Lee Circle and at Gen. Beauregard’s statue have shown it’s mostly about honoring and protecting white supremacy.
I’m as keen as anyone on the need to remember the Civil War and interpret it comprehensively for current and future generations. I’ve written in this space we should take a page from Germany’s mature, honest remembrance of its Nazi past as we repurpose and explain our forebears’ moral outrages.
Under Carmody’s bill, however, even adding a plaque to the Lee statue (noting the Virginian’s treason or explaining why the circle was dedicated to him) could be an illegal alteration. No plaque until the whole city votes.
So much for small-government politicians who champion the right of communities to decided what will adorn their parks and other public spaces. This is big-government, centralized planning I thought Republicans and conservative Democrats hated.
Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.