BATISTE: The New War At The Ole War Skule

The latest local absurdity in extremism comes with a group of LSU students who are attempting to remove more names of historical figures from the campus of the state’s flagship university. It seems the Ole War Skule, increasingly, is no more.

Had Louisiana Lawmakers stood up for House Bill 71 during the 2017 session, the reinvention of LSU’s campus would have been prevented.  The fix was in to get Kirby Smith renamed, but in letting the legislation starve to death, elected officials paved the way for more changes to the historical integrity of Louisiana.  And the end is not in sight.

Now that Confederate names have been stripped from one LSU street and two buildings are slated to be torn down, a coalition of student groups wants to change the names on two of the more prominent buildings on the Baton Rouge campus.

Renew LSU on Friday filed the official papers requesting that university administrators change the name of Murphy J. Foster Hall, which sits near the bell tower and is home of the Museum of Natural History.

The group will watch how that renaming process works, then will set its sites on changing the name of the John M. Parker Agricultural Coliseum, said Savanah Dickinson, a spokeswoman for the student coalition called Renew LSU.

“Murphy J. Foster and John Parker weren’t Confederates but they weren’t the most savory of individuals and certainly not worthy of such high profile recognition on the LSU campus,” Dickinson said.

While governor between 1892 and 1900, Foster signed legislation establishing voter registration requirements that effectively kicked blacks, poor whites and some Republicans off voter rolls. He later was a U.S. Senator and is the grandfather of Republican Gov. Mike Foster, who held office from 1996 to 2004.

Parker was Louisiana governor from 1920 to 1924. He participated in and refused to apologize for the 1891 lynching of 11 Sicilian immigrants accused of involvement in the murder of New Orleans Police Chief David C. Hennessy.

The student group wants Foster Hall and Parker Coliseum renamed to memorialize LSU alumni with notable accomplishments, such as U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General Robert H. Barrow or Vice President Hubert Humphrey or New Orleans Mayor Dutch Morial.

Since the summer of 2015, America has witnessed for the first time in its history large-scale efforts to dishonor war memorials not only given consideration, but the movement gain traction. Instead of simply allowing conversation and providing avenues for modern interpretations showcasing various differing viewpoints on American history, the cleansing began led by “the offended.”

Many very respected pundits nationwide who are not even southerners or pro-south concluded much the same: if historic sites and memorials are removed based on presentism and interpretations not in line with previously held views, there would be no logical ground on which to stop the cleansing, and it would leave the country devoid of any relics of American History preceding the civil rights movement. Alas these claims have come to fruition at the Ole War Skule.

A revisionist propagandized “student” group, which throws about artful language, dubbed itself “Renew LSU.” Their language plays much better to the apathetic masses compared to “destroy our history” which more accurately fits their mission. This effort has located additional names to erase from history, two facilities named for past Louisiana Governors. Murphy J. Foster and John M. Parker are the newest names on a wishful addendum to the list of recently removed monikers noting the existence of Raphael Semmes, football coach Mike Donahue, and the first American Governor of Louisiana, WCC Claiborne.

The battle plan always remains the same: 1) Historical figure is “unsavory,” 2) Historical figure wasn’t really vital to our history, 3) I don’t like historical figure, 4) we must destroy naming rights of historical figure and find someone I like to put in their place.

This effort is vastly unpopular statewide. The normal, reasonable people of Louisiana wouldn’t ever champion iconoclasm as their issue. Only a fringe movement appealing to the worst senses of extreme politics would take action to rename historic places. If the people of Louisiana would actually speak out about this, withhold money from LSU, and threaten to cut off tax funding, the names would be reverted before you can finish singing “Hey Fightin’ Tigers.”

These efforts highlight the incrementalism of the movement. The list always points out the “offensive” names because this is entirely subjective. When those are gone, they can re-review and find more “offensive” names and repeat the continual exercise until everything not in line with their narrow worldview is gone.

If at any point in American history, until about five years ago, someone suggested stripping all politicians’ names if they clash with modern political opinions, the proposer would have been dealt due scorn. However, when it is “just” cleansing Confederates, the ideology seems less extreme. The next step is returning to remove slave owners. Then, the scope expands to include the pre-Civil Rights politicians. The current state of warfare by the destroyers leaves no rest for the conquered as the demands will never cease.

Further, there is never real compromise. The maligned heroes of the past are not allowed to rest alongside new memorials or new namesakes. And the revisionist movements do not memorialize the new name at the time of replacement. The attitude has been, “let’s find someone to replace this,” when it should be an independent movement to honor that person. That on its own is very telling that the true nature is not about memorializing someone new, but rather about demeaning “the unsavory.” Cutting down a tree to plant another tree does not create a forest and removing one name and replacing it with another is not diversity–it’s erasure.

This illustrates the disaster of leaving administrative control of LSU in the hands of a few elite cosmopolitan charlatans, the LSU Board, and administrators who aren’t Louisianians. Efforts like the November renaming demonstrates that those administrators from out of state do not respect the state’s history in its entirety. If the people of Louisiana have any political will, they will hassle these degenerates into ignoring this banter. In recent times, LSU’s board decided competing for “national attention” more important than serving the needs and interests and reflecting the wishes of the tax payers of Louisiana. This cannot be understated—administrators from Anytown, USA, see LSU as a job, not part of their blood and their family. They would gladly tear Col. Boyd’s name off a building for a round of applause from a periodical without giving an ounce of thought to the fact that Boyd literally starved himself and his family to keep the school open. They wouldn’t even have an institution to pillage today if not for these men.

The goalposts keep moving. It’s late in the 4th quarter. Semmes is on the sidelines and Lockett is about to benched. It’s time for the people of Louisiana to get in the game and make noise to save Boyd and his Fightin’ Tigers.

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