The Maroon

Opinion: The monuments are down, so now what?

A+protestor+holds+up+a+sign+at+a+planned+march+on+May+7%2C+2017.+The+march+was+marketed+as+opposing+white+supremacy.+Photo+credit%3A+Nick+Reimann
A protestor holds up a sign at a planned march on May 7, 2017. The march was marketed as opposing white supremacy. Photo credit: Nick Reimann

A protestor holds up a sign at a planned march on May 7, 2017. The march was marketed as opposing white supremacy. Photo credit: Nick Reimann

A protestor holds up a sign at a planned march on May 7, 2017. The march was marketed as opposing white supremacy. Photo credit: Nick Reimann


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BY SEÁN BRENNAN

MASS COMMUNICATION SENIOR

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of the same arguments over the Confederate monuments in the city (I’m a nerd).

It’s the same talking points every time — heritage vs. progress, the “real” symbolism of Robert E. Lee, where New Orleans could have spent money elsewhere — all of which, at this point, doesn’t change anyone’s mind and definitely doesn’t put the statues back up.

Still, all four monuments have been down for four months now, and I’d love nothing more than to acknowledge this period in our history, then move on to bigger, less circular issues — like getting the city’s flood pumps fully operational.

But, at the still-named Lee Circle and other sites, there sits an empty pedestal — the literal representations of how much thought seems to have gone into the monument removal process.

Mitch Landrieu and the City Council’s full course of action over the last year was, “Take ‘em down, Nola,” and that’s it. There was no, “Take em’ down, then put em’ here and replace ‘em with these.”

Because of the city’s complete lack of any comprehensive plan, this conflict is far from over.

The statues are down, so the question is: now what?

Where will they go, what will replace them, what will we rename the streets, which streets will be renamed and, most importantly, how will these decisions be made?

And can we please at least put something on those pedestals for now?

Say what you will about pressing the issue, but Lee, Davis, Beauregard and the obelisk should not have been touched until a process, new names and dates were established and made public by the council.

When anyone brings up the issue, saying “well, it’s over now” just doesn’t work — because it’s not, and it won’t be until those pedestals are re-topped and the monuments have a safe home.

Hindsight is 20/20, and while all of these potential problems should have been clear to the people calling the shots, the matter of New Orleans’ Confederate statue removal needs to be a learning experience for our generation.

As we enter the private and public sectors — and those closest to the Civil War continue to get older — we’ll be the ones making these decisions. With our generation’s more socially liberal ideals, that means we’ll be the ones de-commissioning Confederate statues.

We can’t make the same mistakes that the city of New Orleans has made.

Oversimplifying history doesn’t do anyone justice, and to boil down the Confederacy without looking at the various causes and effects of the Civil War is a dangerous move.

At the end of the day, though, Confederate statues are the physical remembrance of the South’s loss in our country’s bloodiest war, to uphold their right to the single biggest blight in America’s history — slavery.

Celebrating this heritage and history should be encouraged — as a learning experience, so we never repeat the past. While the statues truly mean different things to different people, their celebration, however, does not belong on the streets of the city. Instead, it belongs in a museum or designated learning area.

We can never forget New Orleans’ past, and we should never forget the city’s mistakes when it came to the monuments — mistakes that, knowing this place, will not be properly addressed for years.

Instead of pushing onward in the name of progress with no plan to back it up, our generation needs to listen to opposing views in order to create effective and long-lasting policy.

All we’ve done is move statues into a warehouse. That is one piece to a much larger equation.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Opinion: The monuments are down, so now what?”

  1. Lenny Vasbinder on September 20th, 2017 11:47 pm

    Bravo! Well said–and needed!

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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Opinion: The monuments are down, so now what?