Congratulations to The Advocate for its insightful and reasoned editorial (Jan. 2) regarding the monument issue in New Orleans and its association with historical revisionism.
Last summer, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s unilateral demand that the so-called Confederate statues be removed set the stage for months of unfortunate divisive and hateful speech. Landrieu opined that the very existence of these monuments violated one of the city’s nuisance ordinances. In the weeks that followed Landrieu’s autarchic pronouncement, many citizens warned of a “slippery slope” or “Pandora’s box” should the monuments be removed via the poorly written nuisance ordinance. Those supporting removal of the monuments responded by stating such perspectives were being made by fear-mongers. Really?
On Dec. 17, the City Council voted to remove the monument, and Landrieu appeared before that August body and stated, “I do not know where this is going to end, but I know when it is going to begin.” He later added that he was going to ask the City Council to create a special committee that would be tasked to consider the question of what to do with other controversial monuments within the city of New Orleans.
Grab your toboggans, for we are on the slope and we are sliding. Just who will be on this committee? Maybe political appointees of the mayor; financial contributors, friends, or supporters of the mayor and/or council members; or government employees? What would the qualifications be for one to be considered for an appointment to this blue-ribbon committee? Just who will define the word “controversial” as it pertains to the work this committee is expected to conduct?
There are over 100 monuments in New Orleans; it is likely that each one can be found to be controversial or offensive to someone. In a reference to history, think of the young girls living in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, who decided to accuse certain citizens of being witches. They did so by pointing their fingers at the accused and then stating their indictment. Their finger-pointing resulted in the hanging of 19 unjustly accused Salemites. I suppose those selected to serve on the mayor’s purging committee should get their respective fingers ready!
Richard A. Marksbury