Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Don't erase history, tell it better

Progress... sort of
Just two days ago, Landrieu was noncommittal when asked whether the Lee statue should be removed, though he called for a larger discussion on it and other Confederate monuments in New Orleans. The 2018 Tricentennial Commission, whose tasks include addressing the city's complex racial history ahead of its 300th anniversary, would also examine the propriety of the monuments continued display on public property, the mayor's office said.

"These symbols say who we were in a particular time, but times change. Yet these symbols -- statues, monuments, street names, and more -- still influence who we are and how we are perceived by the world," a spokesman said in a statement. "Mayor Landrieu believes it is time to look at the symbols in this city to see if they still have relevance to our future."
Oh dear that's probably not good. It looks like Mitch is leaning toward doing this exactly the wrong way.  I'm all for taking the general down but it's important that it be done right.  Replacing it with some vaguely positive civic advertisement isn't going to cut it.

The point of removing the statue is not to whitewash the ugly history that led to its appearance in the first place.  The point is to make a powerful counterargument.   If you take the Lee statue down and don't replace it with something that screams, "HEY GUESS WHAT FUCK WHITE SUPREMACY" then you might as well just leave it up.

Otherwise you really are "erasing history" as the crypto-Confederates opposed to the statue's removal are already alleging.  Not to go for too obvious a cliche here but Faulkner was right about history. It really is "not even past." In fact, it's harmful to think of it that way.  History is just more politics from a little bit further back.  We are still living it right now. We still have a say in how it gets told. 

I still think Plessy Circle sounds pretty good.

1 comment:

mominem said...

Landrieu Circle