Monday, January 04, 2016

Tilting at statues

New Year Lee

The Lee Circle monument on New Year's Eve. We stopped by hoping to see it drop at midnight.  It didn't.

This is the most bizarre Gill column on the monuments yet. In it, he cites the "slippery slope" argument offered by pro-Confederate fellow traveler Jack Maguire.  Gill identifies Maguire's argument as disingenuous but he substitutes the word "mischievous" because, as is always the case with racist provocations,  it's ok if they're presented with a little wink.
Among those urging the council to go further in ridding us of monuments offensive to modern sensibilities is Jack Maguire, whose involvement in politics hereabouts goes back to when it was a white man’s game. Maguire, a top aide to Mayor Vic Schiro some 50 years ago, later sat for 16 years on the Mandeville City Council and wrote a couple of books about Louisiana governors. He now chides council members in an email for “mere tokenism” in targeting only Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, P.G.T Beauregard and the Liberty Monument.

This is a somewhat mischievous move by Maguire, because, like most people in New Orleans and statewide, he wants the monuments left where they are. But, so long as a few Confederates are to be regarded as beyond the pale, he maintains that there is no reason to spare all the others. And if consistency requires the council to go the whole hog, then segregationists must be toast too, since they were as committed to white supremacy as their slave-owning forebears.
See, Maguire isn't really all about reinforcing the message of racial and social hierarchy conveyed by theses monuments.  He's just engaging in a little "mischievous" little reducto ad absurdum to argue against their removal. Except it's really just a strawman. As many of us have repeatedly stated, these four monuments have a specific history and purpose which can best be corrected by their removal.  It doesn't follow that every single historic marker or place name must be reexamined as a result. (I wouldn't mind if a few of them were, of course. But that's a separate issue from what's at hand and that's the point here.)

Gill goes on to highlight further "mischief." 
This is perhaps the most mischievous of Maguire’s points, since it would mean the removal of the Chep Morrison monument in Duncan Plaza. There is a strong esthetic argument for that too, but Maguire merely recites how proudly Morrison proclaimed his segregationist credentials. Any plan to dislodge Morrison might be a ticklish one for Landrieu, who set the whole anti-Confederate ball rolling. Landrieu’s father, Moon, who succeeded Schiro as mayor, came up as a protégé of Morrison, Maguire points out, although he didn’t mention that in his email to the council.
Get it? No, I didn't either. It looks like the joke is this. See, Mitch's father... who famously desegregated City Hall and helped to open city politics up to black participation... once worked with Chep Morrison who was, like a lot of powerful whites of his day, less well enlightened on these matters. And there's a statue of Chep.  Which means that by some transitive power of something or other... whoowee isn't Mitch embarrassed by that... for some reason.

Anyway Gill seems to think it's funny. Hopefully you can see how ridiculous this is, though. As is the whole of Gill's continued strange defense of these Confederate monuments.  

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