Thursday, in the “City that Care Forgot,” New Orleans politicians displayed very little care for their city’s history, but showed they cared a great deal for political correctness.
In a 6-1 vote, City Council members passed an ordinance supported by Mayor Mitch Landrieu to declare four historic Confederate monuments “nuisances” and remove them from the city landscape. It was a big political victory for Landrieu who created this controversy after the murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina by a racist white maniac in June.
Immediately thereafter, Landrieu made the connection between the shooting and the four New Orleans monuments, even though the issues were totally unrelated. The monuments did not shoot anyone or commit a crime. They are inanimate objects that are priceless works of art. Two of them were created by renowned sculptor Alexander Doyle and three of them are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Prior to the council’s vote, the arrogant and pompous Landrieu had already lined up contractors to remove the monuments. Fortunately, his plans have been, at least temporarily, halted by a federal lawsuit filed by four organizations concerned about historic preservation.
In fact, all New Orleans residents should be concerned about preserving these monuments. They reflect an important part of the city’s involvement in the Civil War, one of the most influential periods of our nation’s history. Removing the monuments will not destroy the evils of slavery. It will not rectify the injustices committed against African Americans and other minority groups. It is only a feel good gesture that is being pushed by a Mayor who is using the issue to promote his political career.
In his speech to the City Council, the Mayor claimed that he represented “the people,” but, ironically, he opposed the contentious issue being placed on the ballot for all New Orleans residents to decide. As noted by one council member, this entire debate was a “top down” discussion being foisted on the council and the city by Mayor Landrieu.
It is no surprise that during the debate, a mysterious poll of New Orleans voters, either authorized by Landrieu or his supporters, asked respondents their opinion of the Mayor, the monuments and the potential for Landrieu to change the city’s charter and serve a third term. The removal of the monuments is an issue supported by many African American voters, who comprise about 65% of the New Orleans electorate. Obviously, it may be used by Landrieu to attempt a charter change to extend his tenure as Mayor of New Orleans.
By any measure, Landrieu does not deserve another term. In fact, he should be recalled for failing miserably as Mayor. The New Orleans Police Department has lost 500 officers since Landrieu took office. The rate for violent crimes such as murder, rape and armed robbery will increase this year. In fact, the rate for carjacking reached an all-time high in November. Street conditions are atrocious, while many city agencies and departments, such as the Sewerage and Water Board are unreliable at best.
To boost city revenues, the Mayor is getting ready to push another increase in property taxes, after just he finished jacking up meter parking rates and doubling them in the French Quarter. As a tax and spend liberal, he finds great satisfaction in making citizens and tourists pay more money to city government.
These precious tourists, who fund the city’s largest industry, will find New Orleans a much less interesting city to visit after the four historic monuments are removed. In fact, one of the supposedly “racist” monuments, Lee Circle, was ranked by tourists as one of the top ten sites in New Orleans to visit. If Landrieu succeeds with his scheme, this iconic site will be completely changed, as the Robert E. Lee statue will be replaced by something approved by the Mayor, quite a travesty.
Thus, Mayor Landrieu created a firestorm, stoked racial divisions, and attacked the city’s history, all to promote his political career. As New Orleans prepares to celebrate its 300th anniversary in 2018, it has now been severely tarnished by a politician once again.
Fortunately, New Orleans has survived three centuries of corrupt, arrogant and self-promoting Mayors. Sadly, the negative legacy of this Mayor will not soon be forgotten.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].