Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?"

The other day, even as we celebrated the final toppling, we took some time to knock the mayor for his grandstanding.  He is cynical and ambitious and takes far too much credit for the decades of work by grass roots activists who actually got us to this point.  Still, independent of those facts, the speech itself was good.  I did say so, even in that post.  It probably could have done without the Sorkinesque "both sidesy" praise of George Bush and the hammy language about jazz and gumbo and the Saints and whatever. But that just comes with the phony Mitch package. Best to look past it. 

Considered in a vacuum, though, the speech is a complete and compelling summary of the arguments we've all been making against the monuments. For that reason, I'm glad people are connecting with it. It's getting passed all over the national media this week. And while it's annoying as all hell that Mitch's personal PR campaign is succeeding, on balance, it's a net plus that these arguments are circulating.  Here's a passage.
Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city.

Can you do it?

Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?

We all know the answer to these very simple questions.

When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth.
Maybe that's a little a little heavy handed. It's not even what I'd consider the strongest part of the speech. But its point is undeniable. Every "historic preservationist" writing letters to the editor this week should have to confront this.

Also I had this photo from this year's Chaos parade and this made me think of it.

Chaos Loves Monuments

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