Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

Since the racially charged mass shooting that happened last month in South Carolina, Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans has called for the removal of several Confederate statues in the city. Last week, he met with the New Orleans City Council and asked to start the legal process of moving four monuments that were, he says: “built to reinforce the false valor of a war fought over slavery.”

The state, and the South in general, has been divided recently over the presence of the Confederate flag at state buildings. Now, Landrieu is taking it one step further and wants to move these century old symbols. His newfound mission has many residents asking why.

Look, I completely agree with the removal of the Confederate flag. But Mitch Landrieu is going overboard, and he’s wasting the taxpayers’ money as well as his own time. I’m not saying I agree with these monuments, but waging a war on some old rock that was carved into in the late 1800’s is a lot more difficult than you would think.

First, Mitch Landrieu has started the legal process to determine if the monuments can be considered a “public nuisance.” And from the looks of the three-point test the law requires, it seems at least some of these statues are. After that, a city code requires hearings to take comments and recommendations. Finally, it will be put to a vote to the New Orleans City Council as early as September.

Seriously? Is there really that little that needs to be done in New Orleans that the mayor thinks this is a priority?

The same day Mitch Landrieu addressed the City Council the Times Picayune had another story that split the front page of the paper: New Orleans reached it’s 100th murder in 2015, a full 55 days sooner than last year.

So, obviously, Mitch Landrieu does have bigger things to worry about. He resides over a city that can’t even afford to police the French Quarter, the epicenter of the city for tourists around the world, and has been relying on a task force started by private business owners. Yet, he thinks tearing down monuments is a good use of New Orleans’ local government.

Again, I’m glad confederate flags are being removed, but that took a quick decision by the governor of South Carolina and a couple dudes to pull it down. No biggie. This would takes months of fighting and the monuments could never legally be destroyed, only moved.

And while we’re at it, if your one of those average redneck who still argues the flag is a symbol of Southern pride and heritage, don’t act like your being oppressed right now. You’re still able to fly them at home, or wear them on your ridiculously large belt buckles, thanks to the first amendment. The government, even on the state level, has to be held to a higher standard.

Honestly, I could even see the argument for banning the flag all together as a symbol of hate speech. You stars-and-bars wearing folk should be grateful. Look, I get that you’re proud to live in the South. But that flag stands for something different now, admit it. Even if its origins were harmless, that’s not what the majority of this country thinks of when they see it.

Nazi flags and memorabilia have been outlawed in several European countries. The swastika is a symbol that has been despised in that part of the world, and even the U.S., for 70 years. The swastika, however, was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastika comes from Sanskrit and means “good fortune” or “well-being.”

Try telling that to someone while you’re waiving a flag with a swastika on it.

As against the Confederate flag as I am, I still don’t understand trying to rip down a statue of men who have a place in history. That, for sure, is a very slippery slope. Half of our forefathers would be considered monsters if being held to today’s standards. We can’t wipe out our country’s history just because it’s not pretty; there’d be nothing left.

While we’re at it Landrieu, why not tear down the statue of Andrew Jackson and rename the most iconic square in the city? Jackson was ruthless in his treatment of Native Americans, and his Indian Removal Act cause the death of around 5,000 of their people.

Why does his monument get to stand? I guess removing it wouldn’t be newsworthy enough right now. And in the end, I think that’s Landrieu’s main motivation: grandstanding on a national level.


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