NEW ORLEANS MAYOR DE-ERECTS CONFEDERATE STATUES. CITY REMAINED CALM. NO LYNCHING THREATS WERE HEARD.

SOMEONE IN OUR SWIFTLY NARROWING FIELD OF THINKING AND THOUGHTFUL POLITICIANS WHO HITS A HOME RUN.  



New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, talks about the rationale for removing four statues in his The Crescent City honoring Confederate heroes. What follows are excerpts from his recent speech, where he strongly defends the removal the monuments from his city. This is an extraordinary speech, and you can see the entire speech at the end of this post or on YouTube.  
New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures. There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum ― out of many we are one. But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was 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 forced labor of misery of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined “separate but equal”; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth. And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame... all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.
Landrieu then quotes George W. Bush (”A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”) and proceeds to lay out some historical facts:
The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This “cult” had one goal ― through monuments and through other means ― to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for. 
After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city. Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy. He said in his now famous “Cornerstone speech” that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery ― subordination to the superior race ― is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago so we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and more perfect union.
Landrieu then shares some personal stories, about growing up in New Orleans and barely noticing the statues ― an experience he contrasts with an African-American family’s different take on them. How can such mothers and fathers explain these statues to their chi

ldren? After calling removal of the statues “the right thing, not the easy thing,” he continues:
History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong. And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African-Americans ― or anyone else ― to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity seems perverse and absurd. Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place.
Landrieu finishes with two obligatory quotes. The first:
We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say “wait, not so fast.” But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “’wait’ has almost always meant ‘never’.” We can’t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now. No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don’t change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain.
Landrieu then wraps up with the immortal words of President Lincoln:
The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause. Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to do all which may achieve and cherish: a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”


After reading the excerpts or watching Mayor Mitch Landrieu speech, stop and think for just a hot second about the inarticulate buffoon of a man who occupies the White House right now.  Sad isn't it?

Have A Great New Orlean's Style Day!  


New Orleans in 2005: Hurricane Katrina 

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