here’s my new conversation starter about the Confederate monuments around town. If you want to honor Civil War history, then (as befits the victors), for the Lee statue, insert Grant; for the J. Davis one, Lincoln; for PGT Beauregard, Gen. Lovell or Butler. In fact, the history that would be appropriate would be to only have the victor depicted with information about the war and the losers left to a plaque, and would then offer true Civil War history to the future generations…That is my argument; explaining the history of a failed insurrection (of which New Orleans was in for all of 16 months or so of its 300 year history) was not the point of those statues, but rather meant as a defiance of the order of the victors to integrate, and as a way to tell this new tall tale of the “Lost Cause.” The Davis statue, in particular is in that camp as it was put up in the 1900s (I hope no one is arguing for the Battle of Liberty Place Monument to remain). I believe anyone who argues for these to stay as they are is arguing for a false narrative of triumph and encouraging that long ago generation’s view of subjugation of their neighbors. Still, I’d like them to remain in the city, in an appropriate place with other symbols of previous times available to all to see and understand. History is not erased but with the removal of false idols, is also no longer appropriated and altered as it is presently.
When people scornfully use the argument that those who want this change want to deny history, I reply that it is those who argue for the losers of the war to be depicted who are the ones denying history. Yes, let’s absolutely depict the history of our horrific Civil War, but do it truthfully and with respect to ALL of our people and our (at times, shameful) history. If you truly want to have our history on display, then get actively involved in finding innovative and respectful ways to match the complicated details of it.