The Louisiana media has been essentially silent over the last couple of months when it comes to the historical monuments debate and the questionable process Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration has sought out.
But, with the New Orleans City Council expected to vote on the issue tomorrow, the local media is making sure the public hears loud and clear just how terrible the four monuments are and how stupid the supporters of the monuments are.
Take for instance the most recent columns for NOLA.com by Jarvis DeBerry. In both pieces, DeBerry goes on some sort of personal vendetta about how he really, really, really doesn’t like black people waving the Confederate flag.
Here’s what DeBerry wrote in his Dec. 11 piece for NOLA.com:
The Civil War set the table for the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the United States. The Confederates fought for the preservation of slavery. But they weren’t fighting merely to preserve slavery. As Constance Sublette, co-author of “The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry,” said in an interview in New Orleans last month, “The forces driving secession and the Civil War were all about the expansion of slavery. It was not only about having the system of slavery, but to expand it further into the United States (and) its territories.”
So it’s a jolt to see a black man draping himself in the banner of a pro-slavery-expansion army.
And when you think about it, seeing monuments to Confederate officials in a majority black city is jarring for the same reason.
Why should a city where most people are black continue to honor historical figures who would not have honored them? Why should a majority black city keep on pedestals people who championed black people’s continued degradation and enslavement?
Isn’t that conceptually absurd?
The City Council chambers had a good number of white people Thursday who were wearing stickers with the phrase “All History Matters.” Does it really?
Then there is DeBerry’s most recent piece which was published on Dec. 14 on NOLA.com. This column mirrors the same sentiment and tone of DeBerry’s Dec. 11 column, where once again, he goes on and on about how he can’t stand black men waving Confederate flags.
The best thing ever happened to me after I wrote the column that begins with my observation of a black man outside New Orleans City Hall ridiculously clad in Confederate paraphernalia. I got “memed!” The black Confederate sympathizer took a photo of me from the web – a photo I happen to like a great deal – and added these words to it: “Meet Jarvis DeBerry: Journalist and Race Baiting Clown.”
I can’t tell you how it warms my heart to be called a clown by a black man calling himself @RealBlackRebel, a black man walking around with Confederate paraphernalia and crusading to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from the Southern landscape. Seriously. I shared it with all my friends and thanked the guy for his early Christmas president. With his meme he confirms that Southern axiom that a hit dog will indeed always holler.
Then, as if DeBerry’s anti-monuments pieces weren’t enough, NOLA.com published another one on Dec. 15 by New Orleans musician Wynton Marsalis, where he tells us why the monuments must be removed.
When one surveys the accomplishments of our local heroes across time from Iberville and Bienville, to Andrew Jackson, from Mahalia Jackson, to Anne Rice and Fats Domino, from Wendell Pierce, to John Besh and Jonathan Batiste, what did Robert E. Lee do to merit his distinguished position? He fought for the enslavement of a people against our national army fighting for their freedom; killed more Americans than any opposing general in history; made no attempt to defend or protect this city; and even more absurdly, he never even set foot in Louisiana. In the heart of the most progressive and creative cultural city in America, why should we continue to commemorate this legacy?
And it’s not just NOLA.com. The New Orleans Advocate is working night and day to make sure they get all of their anti-monuments ‘letter to the editor’ pieces published right ahead of the City Council vote.
Walter Isaacson, who I reported on here as being one of the leading, most powerful liberal voices pushing monument removal in the city.
Naturally, the New Orleans Advocate published a piece by Isaacson (NOLA.com published an anti-monuments piece by Isaacson back in July) where he tells us why Andrew Jackson’s statue should stay, but Lee Circle should go.
Likewise, today there are varying motives among those who advocate retaining a prominently placed monument to Lee. Some supporters may be able to point to a great-great-grandfather who was there at Gettysburg at two o’clock on that fateful July afternoon in 1863 or who have other sincere reasons for wanting to commemorate the valor of the Confederate military or preserve the landmarks we grew up with. But some others, including those most prone to wave the Confederate battle flag during debates over the issue, seem to value the statue mainly as a defiant symbol of white resistance. No wonder the statue of Lee, unlike that of Jackson, sends mixed signals and arouses different emotions in our community.
Monuments exist for a purpose. That purpose is to convey a message. At a time when our public and Internet discourse has become coarser, more divisive and at times even hateful and intentionally hurtful, it’s useful to favor civic symbols that were originally, and still are, intended to be inclusive.
Of course, there are hardly any pro-monument ‘letters to the editor’ and columns this week because the media needs to get its message across one last time that the monuments are racist and their supporters are morons.