FROM TODAY'S LAKE CHARLES AMERICAN PRESS
|(Antique postcard; M.D. Jones Collection)|
Editorial: Page 4
Study and learn from history
Learning from our past is one of the most important reasons for the study of history. The more we learn, the better equipped we are not to repeat the mistakes of history.
But when history gets politicized by modern day politicians, it can become unnecessarily divisive and even dangerous.
That's what appears to be happening in New Orleans, where Mayor Mitch Landrieu seems determined to tear down four of Louisiana's and New Orleans' most historically and artistically significant monuments, including two which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The four are the Robert E. Lee Monument, the Pierre G.T. Beauregard Monument, the Jefferson Davis Monument and the Liberty Place Monument.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance declaring the monuments a "public nuisance" Thursday, Dec. 17, so they can be torn down. There have been public hearings, which have been very emotional and divisive in a city that desperately needs to be unified around its real problems, such as crime, urban renewal, infrastructure improvement, economic development, financial and educational issues.
But citizens shouting at each other in public hearings is no gauge of what the people of New Orleans really want. If Landrieu and the council are determined to push this very divisive issue, regardless of the negative consequences, they should at tomorrow's meeting pass a substitute motion to at least give the people people of New Orleans a vote on it.
Recent public polls have shown both the people of Louisiana and those in New Orleans are overwhelmingly against tearing down these historic monuments. The poll found that 68 percent of Louisianians are against tearing down the monuments. In addition, 64 percent of the people of New Orleans responded they are also against the mayor's proposal.
The division created by this political attack on four historic monuments, which are also among the finest outdoor sculptures in Louisiana, and which bring in tourism dollars into the city and state, has already resulted in vandalism on them and other historic monuments in New Orleans.
This is no way for a great, world-class city to treat its own very rich and diverse history and heritage. All historical persons and points of view should be studied in the context of their own times. Those monuments are another teaching tool from which everyone can learn. Tearing them down will only hurt New Orleans and stir needless ongoing controversy and and division.
The people of New Orleans are not to blame for this unnecessary controversy. The people of New Orleans want their history and heritage preserved. It will be a shame if their own local politicians don't listen to them. The mayor and city council should give the people a vote.
We all need to learn from our mutual history and heritage, not tear it down.