UPDATE: Ready or not, here it comes.
Everybody you talk to in Baton Rouge, it seems, is dreading what is commonly understood to be the impending announcement by the Justice Department regarding the Alton Sterling case. Everybody.
Particularly given the chaos last night just 80 miles away in New Orleans, where a gaggle of drunks from Tulane and Loyola, combined with various tattooed snowflake millennials, some rag-tag neo-communist Antifa loons, project trash and a few Black Lives Matter soreheads showed up at the Jefferson Davis monument to berate and in some cases rough up the preservationists who took up residence there in an effort to save Davis’ statue from a similar fate to that befalling the Liberty Place monument torn down last week.
Nobody was killed or badly hurt, but watching the video feed of the fracas last night gave off the strong impression that the site was a tinder box. WWL-TV caught a little of the action in this video clip…
When one of the preservationists, who happened to be a black man carrying a long gun and a lot of ammunition – which is his legal right – was continuously verbally assaulted by some of the Antifa crowd in an effort to goad him into using that gun, you could see the beginnings of civic violence in this country on a scale we haven’t seen in 100 years or more. It didn’t happen, thank God, but if the armed man had a little less composure a combustible situation could easily have exploded.
With that as background, and the state’s largest city on edge, one wonders if it’s a good idea to go through with plunging the state’s second largest city into chaos by giving bad news to a group of people who seem ready to riot.
Hopefully there won’t be violence when the Alton Sterling thing does come down. Nobody seems confident there won’t be. Everybody seems to think Baton Rouge’s “tourists” will engage in looting, burning, throwing things at the police and attempting to block an interstate even if the local protesters don’t want to. And those “tourists” are swollen in number now thanks to the monument controversy.
It ought to be said that neither side is particularly angelic, either with respect to the monument fight or the Sterling matter. Last night the preservationists who could easily have found themselves at an Alamo-style disadvantage didn’t do themselves too many favors; while they weren’t the aggressors in the hostilities that took place at the Jefferson Davis monument, brandishing a bunch of confederate flags to go with Mississippi and Alabama accents as they did was stupid. The persuasive case for preserving the statues to Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee isn’t made with a confederate flag, as those three figures offered more than just four years of rebellion against the Lincoln administration. Davis, Beauregard and Lee are figures of American history, and as such the people resisting the bowdlerization of their statues ought to have been flying American flags.
Lee and Beauregard, after all, signed loyalty oaths to the union after the war in 1865 – though Davis never did. Beauregard’s was especially eloquent…
“In taking up arms during the late struggle (after my native state, Louisiana, had seceded) I believed, in good faith, that I was defending the constitutional rights of the South against the encroachments of the North. Having appealed to the arbitration of the Sword, which has gone against us, I accept the decision as settling finally the question of secession & slavery – & I offer now my allegiance to the Government of the United States, which I promise, truly and faithfully, to serve & uphold hereafter, against all external or internal foes.”
One of the stupid things said by New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu during this controversy was that the monuments he’s trying to take down are an “aberration” or a “denial” of history, since the Confederacy only lasted for four years. But Davis had been a U.S. Senator before the secession in 1861. Lee and Beauregard were heroes in the Mexican-American War. Lee’s efforts at bringing the South back into the union were lauded on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line following the war, which was the reason Lee Circle was so celebrated when it was constructed in 1878 (and the statue was crafted in New York, of all places). Beauregard played a substantial role in the post-war history of New Orleans, not the least of which was his having designed what ultimately became the city’s streetcars. Their influence on the culture of New Orleans and the South greatly transcends the four years between 1861 and 1865. But the people waving confederate flags around are poisoning the case that those historical monuments represent more than mere slavery.
And what we do not need is a bunch of confederate flag-waving out-of-towners coming up to Baton Rouge and goading the Alton Sterling protest crowd into a rumble.
Yesterday we were told there would be an announcement on the Sterling matter at 10 AM today. So far this morning it’s been quiet. We hope it stays that way, and the Sterling business is put off until the temperature cools downriver in New Orleans.