John Bel Edwards doesn’t know Louisiana. The Governor said he doesn’t think the state Legislature should be involved in decisions about removing Confederate Monuments.
“This is an issue for the city of New Orleans,” Governor Edwards told Julia O’Donoghue of NOLA.com on Wednesday.
The Tangipahoa Parish native seems disconnected or unconcerned with a hot issue that has crossed the state and spanned years. Controversies involving historic monuments to military veterans have sprung up in two other areas of Louisiana, far away from Mitch Landrieu’s dictatorship
In Lafayette, a monument to General Alfred Mouton has been the target for removal by two separate groups. Similar to the radical group in New Orleans, Take Em Down, some Lafayette residents created the group “Why Alfred?” to push for the removal of the Mouton statue. This group formed in December 2015, around the time of the New Orleans City Council vote, an obvious example of Landrieu and Take Em Down opening Pandora’s box.
“Our mission is to educate people on who Alfred really was, not the image that’s been painted, not the repressed history that people don’t want to acknowledge. He really did some heinous things,” said “Why Alfred?” member Morgan Pierce.
“To me, it was erected to reaffirm the myth of white supremacy and therefore black inferiority,” Greg Davis, director of the Cajundome and an advocate of removing the statue, said to the Daily Advertiser.
“But for the New Orleans situation, this issue would not be before the council and this mayor,” said James “Jimmy” Domengeaux.
A second Mouton removal effort, “Move the Mindset,” stirred up toward the end of 2016.
“We are taxpayers, and the property ultimately is owned by taxpayers,” said Fred Prejean, chairman of Move the Mindset. “The property where the statue is located now. So, there is a significant number of taxpayers who would like to see the statue moved to a more appropriate place.”
Upstate in Caddo Parish, a removal effort centers around an artistically exquisite memorial to Confederate veterans. In 2011 the politically correct extremists succeeded in removing a Confederate flag that accompanied the monument. A full monument removal campaign began in 2015 on the heels of the Landrieu-Take Em Down effort.
“It’s a glaring monument,” said NAACP Shreveport branch president Lloyd Thompson. “And with all of the conversations going on around the country I feel now is the time to remove the statue.”
The Caddo monument is found on the National Register of Historic Places. And preservationists have strong arguments, legally and logically.
“It marks the surrender of Shreveport, therefore the end of the Confederacy,” said Gary Joiner, associate history professor at Louisiana State University-Shreveport. “It marks the beginning of Reconstruction. It’s a solemn thing. It’s history.”
But reason, logic, and law will not stop groups like these, in the Northeast corner of Louisiana or anywhere else in the state, that continue the push to erase history. With movements in Lafayette, New Orleans, and Shreveport, the question is where next? If revisionists like Take Em Down continue to spread their influence, it looks like the next targets include renaming parishes and cities such as Destrehan, Lafitte, Mandeville, and Slidell.
Meanwhile, the eradication of history has spread throughout the country. Edwards may be the lone Democrat Governor in the South, but perhaps his advisors should suggest appealing to the conservative side of Louisiana voters if he wants to get reelected. Several other states–Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia–have all passed Preservation Acts that protect each state’s history. And Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas have similar bills under review.
Of course, LSU’s study showed 73% of Louisiana wants to preserve the monuments.
But Governor Edwards is sidestepping a bill that protects the memory of wars and military veterans. As a West Point graduate and service man, his absence is duly noted.