Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Orleans Monuments, Followup Editorial

Monuments should not be politicized. The South's Defenders Monument,
Lake Charles, Louisiana (antique postcard, M.D. Jones collection)

Monuments Followup Editorial

Here is an editorial that ran in the Lake Charles American Press today, Dec. 23, as a followup of the New Orleans monuments vote. It concludes a Louisiana monuments protection act is needed to protect these historic treasures from political opportunism.

Monuments shouldn't be politicized

      The New Orleans City Council recently voted to approve an ordinance to declare four of Louisiana's most historic and artistically significant monuments, as "public nuisances."
      This action can lead to the removal, in effect the junking, of these four priceless treasures of Louisiana history - the Robert E. Lee Monument in Lee Circle, the General Beauregard Monument, both on the National Register of Historic Places, the Jefferson Davis Monument, nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, and the Liberty Place Monument.
      In addition, Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants a commission to decide on which of New Orleans' many other historic monuments, street names and plaques that should be junked or the names changed, in a further exercise in intolerant and radical political correctness.
      Fortunately, several groups of historically-minded citizens who respect and want to save all of New Orleans' very diverse cultural heritage have filed a federal law suit to stop this unfortunate exercise in political correctness. The plaintiffs are the Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Monumental Task Committee Inc. and Beauregard Camp No. 130, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Named as defendants are Landrieu and the federal Department of Transportation and various officials.
      The city has agreed to not to remove the monuments before a Jan. 14 hearing before Judge Carl Barbier in Federal District Court in New Orleans.
      There are 13 points of contention in the 51 page suit, ranging from ownership of the property on which the monuments stand, questions of federal law concerning veterans monuments and National Register listed property, the property interests of other parties, and federal responsibilities regarding the street car line and the monuments connection to it, among others.
      The suit also contends that the monuments do not fit the city's definition of a "nuisance."
      Landrieu's state desire for a commission to look at other monuments, plaques and street names could signal a continuing "slippery slope" that will cause even more division and contention.
      The council would not consider a compromise proposal from the only council member to vote against the ordinance, Stacy Head.
      A recent poll showed that 64 percent of the population is against removing the monuments, and 68 percent of the entire state are against it. New Orleans has a rich and proud historical and cultural legacy that impacts the whole state. It is the tourism anchor of Louisiana. Tourism is one of the state's largest industries and historical tourism is a big part of it.
      Besides, New Orleans is a political sub-division of the state government and gets plenty money from the general treasury for infrastructure and other needs.
      It should be obvious now that the state legislature needs to consider a monuments protection act to protect Louisiana's history, heritage and culture, from this kind of destructive, divisive political opportunism.

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