Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Saturday, April 29, 2017



Time: Monday Morning, 3:00 AM. Place: New Orleans. Scene: A fleet of black flat-bed trucks arrive at the Battle of Liberty Place. Out came dozens of masked men. Knowing their lives are in grave danger, snipers have been placed on rooftops of nearby buildings to protect them. After receiving the final OK from HQ, they begin their dangerous task: Removing a Confederate obelisk that has withstood 126 years of opposition.

By dawn, the massive marble icon was gone...without a single KKK shooter. Mayor Mitch Landrieu applauded the action. "It sends a clear and unequivocal message on diversity, inclusion and tolerance," he summarized. After the courts and City Council's tremendous resolution earlier this year, it's clearing time for Confederate monuments in the Crescent City. One obelisk down, three statues to go. Next up is the Beauregard Statue at the college. All four monuments date back to the 1800's. They have been accepted by locals as part of their history: good or bad. But suddenly, everything changed in 2017, and they became symbols of hate and had to be instantly removed.

Why this week? Basically, New Orleans is finally feeling the political ripple-effect that began a year ago in South Carolina. That's when nine African-Americans were shot in a horrific racial attack. Voters demanded elected officials do something in response, so they removed the Confederate flag from atop the Statehouse. This triggered a domino-effect across the South. Confederate statues in Atlanta, Memphis...and now New Orleans...have all succumbed to the political fall-out from this one event. So they are all being removed.

Meanwhile, historians across the nation are left scratching their heads. The act of erasing and thus attempting to change the memories of the past is always risky business. Just ask the Senators of Ancient Rome. After killing Julius Caesar, they began dismantling his many monuments and statues, hoping to change public opinion. The process even had a title: Damnatio Memoriae or 'Condemnation of Memory.' It didn't work and Caesar remains relevant two thousand years later. However...this time...it will work. Everyone in New Orleans will forget about the Confederacy. It's as easy as removing a statue!

In actuality, the people of New Orleans have been largely receptive. The obelisk honored the Crescent City White League...so few folks protested. However, the last two monuments to be removed may prove a little more difficult. Confederate general Robert E. Lee is considered a genius of military strategy. Confederate president Jefferson Davis held office for five years. They were both amazing leaders. Sigh. It's just sad to see such an enormous decision made so hastily and without a public vote. Removing statues of Hitler and Stalin is much easier!

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