BAYHAM: Vandalizing For Hope And Change

Over the past few weeks Confederate monuments on public property in New Orleans have been subject to vandalism and, in one recent case, theft.

New Orleans has no shortage of problems, from hellish roads and crime to the high water that submerged most of the east bank of Orleans Parish ten years ago this August.

The city’s handful of prominent memorials dedicated to three of the Confederacy’s most prominent figures had infrequently been damaged by politically charged vandals over the past decade.  However the sudden crusade against all things Confederate that started in South Carolina, the one-time cradle of secession, in the aftermath of Dylan Roof’s shooting spree against black members of a Charleston Methodist church has spread throughout the country.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu leaped on to the rebel “ban-wagon”, declaring that the monuments to Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis along with the post-Civil War “Battle of Liberty Place” memorial needed to be removed from public view in advance of the city’s upcoming tricentennial celebration in 2018.

The irony of eradicating historical landmarks as part of the preparation of holding a historical celebration was lost on the mayor.

Since Landrieu declared war on Civil War landmarks the Lee, Beauregard and Davis monuments have been defaced.

The equestrian statue of the St. Bernard-born and longtime New Orleans resident P.G.T. Beauregard had its pedestal spray painted (poorly at that) with the words “Black Lives Matter” in cursive.

It would not be surprising if the same social justice vigilantes who were behind the Beauregard paint job were also connected to the anti-gentrification vandalism committed at the newly reopened St. Roch Market.

Next the large column supporting the statue of General Lee had been tagged with the word “couch” by someone with much better can-control skills.  Fortunately the illicit spray paintings were removed in short order.

And just recently, the statue of the Confederate president had a rope tied around the base of the monument, as if to symbolize tearing it down.  A peace sign was hung on Davis’s outstretched arm.

The Nola Davis statue fared better than memorials to him in the one-time Confederate capital of Richmond and on the University of Texas’ campus, which were vandalized not long after the campaign to remove the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina began.

However there were some “alterations” made to related objects nearby.

A utility box that had been painted with scenes around the highly trafficked Mid City corner as of late June had a picturesque image of the Davis statute on one of its sides.  That panel has since been painted over with a butterfly and sunflower.

There’s nothing historic about the utility box art, though the concept of painting over something that was apparently fine a few weeks ago seems silly and kowtowing to the new “societal correctness”, as the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway just intersected with street art and 1984’s “memory hole”.

The more troublesome, or rather criminal, hit was on a stone marker across the street that contained a plaque dedicating the road as the Jefferson Davis Parkway.  Judging by the condition of the marker, which was placed there on August 29, 1928 by the son of a Civil War veteran, the plaque had been ripped off.

Nobody has been arrested for these acts of vandalism and it’s doubtful the individuals will ever be held accountable even if identified.

The “direct action” leftist political crowd probably believes that they have received a sort of “wink and nod” from City Hall to help make a case that the statues are a public nuisance while the politicians simultaneously going through the legal motions and hearings to strengthen the city’s case if the matter of removing the monuments goes to court.

Unfortunately there’s the possibility that the continued toleration of this vandalism by city leaders and the heightened rhetoric employed by the perpetually outraged and professional complainers will encourage those drunk on the sanctimony of their holy cause to smash the vilified edifices to escalate their activities from rendering bad paint jobs in the dead of night to more severe tactics.

When the inevitable happens, Jefferson Davis, et al will not be the losers; civil discourse and respect for rule of law will be.

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