Monday, June 22, 2015

Let's take the general down

Welcome to Brees Circle

It's time. It's way past time, really.
That (Confederate) flag, a symbol of hate and racism, doesn't fly over any government offices in New Orleans. But we still have many monuments to the Confederacy.

The most prominent one is certainly the statue to Robert E. Lee that towers over Lee Circle. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been talking about whether the Lee monument ought to have a future as New Orleans approaches its 300th birthday.

Here's what Landrieu's office said Monday afternoon: "Mayor Landrieu has discussed with 2018 Tricentennial Commission members how we can appropriately recognize our 300-year history as a city while also looking to the future and helping New Orleans become the city we always knew she could be. Part of this process should include a close examination of the historical symbols throughout our city and what changes could be made as we approach 2018, including the Robert E. Lee statute in Lee Circle. 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.  Mayor Landrieu believes it is time to look at the symbols in this city to see if they still have relevance to our future."
If we are going to do this, though, it's important that we, unlike the Saints fans in the picture above, take it seriously.  Mitch already makes me nervous when he throws his Tricentennial fetish in there. If we take Lee down and replace him with some sort of generic piece of modern art and christen some boring "Tricentennial Circle"  that will almost make the thing not worth doing.

It's not enough to just take down the Confederate monument and sanitize the space with post-modern nonsense. We need to imbue it with an appropriate positive historical and cultural significance in equal measure to the negative image we are supplanting.  My first thought is to name it for Homer Plessy, though maybe you guys can come up with someone as deserving.

Just don't leave it up to Mitch Landrieu and his band of bland "New New Orleanians."  They'll either do something inappropriately benign or name it for some pastor they're all indebted to politically.

Robert C Blakes Dr

We can do better than that.

1 comment:

joejoejoe said...

I was reading a little about Homer Plessy and learned his legal case was much like the Rosa Parks case. A planned encounter designed to trigger a legal argument. The planners were called the Comité des Citoyens, a citizens group "made up of “civil libertarians, ex-Union soldiers, Republicans, writers, a former Louisiana lieutenant governor, a French Quarter jeweler and other professionals.” That sounds a bit like the NOLA blogging community. I think you are better placed to make some progress renaming Lee Circle as Plessy Circle than you think. Maybe have a panel at Rising Tide with some invited historians and urban planners. I think in pretty short order you could have a website, a design competition with a crowd funded prize, some events related to Homer Plessy at Lee Circle, all with the same effort required to post bad holiday videos or ruminations on potholes. I'd pledge $50 to the effort. Hell, I'd pay $50 for a compilation of Yellow Blog food posts rebranded as Plessipes. I have no shame.