My wife and I were born, raised and educated in New Orleans/Jefferson Parish and lived there most of our lives until we retired a few years ago to a rural county in Missouri. We keep a second home in Jefferson Parish, visit often and support the community. As “part-time” residents, we feel justified in commenting upon a recent event: the recommendation to “relocate” four statues commemorating figures from the Civil War era.
We disagree with this recommendation and see it for what it really is: nothing more than appeasement. To appease means to make a concession to gain quiet or calm, especially by giving in to demands that have been made. This also reminds us of a cliché: “It’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” Moral? Nothing significant will be gained by this, which is the usual outcome of appeasement.
The case of Robert E. Lee is especially puzzling. He was a man of exceptional character who faced a true dilemma as the Civil War began. He felt a greater loyalty to his state (Virginia) than to his country. We should not be much surprised; our country was not quite 85 years old, and “love of country” was not as deeply felt as it is today. It does not seem proper to hold him to today’s standards when he lived 150 years ago. What is to be gained by banishing him?
Mary Lynne and Larry Daigre
Sainte Genevieve, Missouri