New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has scrapped its request for bids on a contract to remove Confederate monuments from the city, citing a court order.So, you know, yay. We'll still have monuments to kick around for another summer. Which is fine by me (as long as we eventually get to take them down.) In the meantime, it's one of my favorite issues to watch people argue about. Which is what they were doing last week when Tulane Hillel hosted a monuments edition of its public debate series. I'll let you go read Alex Woodward's account of the meeting but allow me to quote his concluding paragraph.
The bids were due to be opened Monday (May 23), but the city canceled the solicitation.
Landrieu's attempt to remove monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard has been put on hold since March 25 when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order saying the statues had to be kept in place while it considered a request by preservationists to block removal altogether.
As futile as these meetings seem, and as intense as they get, misinformation aside, they're worth having. All the public meetings on the monuments — from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities to Tulane to the City Council Chambers — have attempted to find that common ground. Instead, at nearly every debate or hearing, someone mentions how "divided" the city has become under Landrieu's watch, specifically, that black New Orleanians are speaking against the monuments, in public. If this is the first time monument supporters are hearing the aftershocks of slavery and Jim Crow, they haven't been listening at all.I agree that these meetings are worthwhile. I'm less interested, though, in finding "common ground" with racists so much as I am interested in seeing them display the full ugliness of their ignorance. It is an abundantly instructive exercise and this monuments issue has been excellent for it.
Alex also points out at the opening of this article that as the same day this meeting was convened, the Louisiana Legislature was passing an obnoxious law that says persons unfortunate enough to find themselves in conflict with police could be prosecuted for "hate crime." I wish someone at the Hillel event could have asked one of the monument defenders if this means the White League rioters the Liberty Monument celebrates committed a "hate crime" against the police they murdered that day. But oh well.
Today our ineffectual Governor confirmed that he plans to sign the monstrous Blue Lives Matter bill. No doubt John Bel thinks this is the best way to find "common ground." But that's the trap such rhetoric sets for us. The only way to defeat racism and abuse is to overthrow it. And as long as our political leaders are content to reward police for their violent licentious racism, there's no reason to seek "common ground" with them.