When reading The Advocate’s editorial on Dec. 18 on the New Orleans City Council’s vote to remove four Confederate monuments that occupy public space, I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “How Long, Not Long” speech where he asked a series of rhetorical questions to appeal to the better nature of the citizenry. Consider these two examples from Dr. King’s speech: “How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. … How long, not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
In contrast, The Advocate puts forward an editorial complaining of the process used by the mayor and City Council that preceded the vote on the Confederate monuments — a position, however, that represents a thinly veiled attempt to support the position of those in opposition to removing the monuments. The Advocate makes no claim that the mayor or City Council conducted the process in an extralegal or untoward manner but rather asserts that the opposition was not satisfied by the process nor its outcome, and, therefore, the process was flawed.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when references to Nazi Germany appear frequently in our public discourse — sometimes appropriately, but most times not. However, at the risk of offending some, I think the debate around the Confederate symbols offers an interesting contrast to the world’s response to the symbols of Nazi Germany.
Given the atrocities of Nazi Germany and the moral bankruptcy of its leaders, the world decided to condemn and denounce its leaders and their symbols. Is there a moral equivalency shared by the Confederacy and Nazi Germany? Yes, the similarities are too odious and numerous to list here, however.
So I asked The Advocate editorial board, how long will you continue to support a morally reprehensive institution and its symbols in the name of culture, history, nostalgia, etc.? You fill in the blank.
Curtis L. Johnson