New Orleans finally has a new name for the old Lee Circle. The city has been undergoing a process of renaming streets and other parts of the city in the wake of last summer’s racial confrontations that were spurred by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
The New Orleans City Council Street Renaming Commission has decided to rename the old Lee Circle Egalite Circle.
The new name is supposed to be an homage to the French and Haitian Revolutions. But are these the two revolutions we want to honor? After all, the initial justification for all the statue demolitions and street renamings was to remove unsavory people such as former Confederates and slave holders from places of honor.
The French Revolution started off with a noble enough cause. It began by a demand for more representation and a betterment of living conditions by the common Frenchmen. The beginning of the revolution produced the Declaration of the Rights of Man and led to the creation of the National Assembly.
But the French Revolution then spiraled out of control. It led to the mass execution of its opponents, the creation of aspects of modern tyrannies such as the show trial, and the repression of the Catholic Church. Ultimately, it ended in dictatorship first by Robespierre in the Reign of Terror and then rise of Napoleon which ended the revolution.
Like the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution started off with a noble enough cause, the revolt of the slaves against their French masters. The Haitian Revolution though ended with the massacre of all white and Creole settlers in the country and the establishment of a dictatorship. Haiti has never been anyone’s definition of a well-run, stable country.
The New Orleans City Council still has to make the final decision on the final name for the old Lee Circle. Honoring two revolutions that gave birth to massacres and dictatorships is a terrible idea.