On Thursday, April 21st, the New Orleans City Council put aside all municipal issues to focus on one of the city bureaucrats’ favorite distractions—racial politics. The Council introduced a measure rename Lee Circle to Harmony Circle. Now, as laid out by the local government, the city and citizens of New Orleans will live life in harmony, with the gumbo spoon sculpture awkwardly standing at the base of Robert E. Lee’s column.
For the record, anyone who searches the internet—or reads books–could read that Robert E. Lee visited New Orleans several times. And despite the ignorant intolerance, Lee surrendered to end the war. He encouraged Southerners defending their homeland from invasion to cease fighting. He was respected widely on both sides of the conflict.
But New Orleans in 2022 is far different from the 19th century position as America’s largest port city and the crown jewel of the South. Anybody whose eyes are functioning can see homeless people throughout the city, homeless gathered in tents around downtown, and violent crime and auto crime (as in carjackings) frequently impacting every part of the city. But the politicians don’t want to address any of that. What they want is to distract citizens from the real issues.
No one in New Orleans thought altering the city’s historical landscape was a priority in 2015 except a New York musician (meaning he doesn’t live here) and the Take Em Down folks like the transplanted Marxist Gavrielle Gemma and a transplanted activist named Quess. Not one person has been able to intelligently explain the “how” this removing and renaming improves the city.
It comes as no surprise that the elected officials of New Orleans prefer addressing non-issues such as street names because if public officials fulfilled their obligations, they would be forced to develop real solutions to the issues spreading like cancer through the city–violent crime, sewerage and water board incompetence, decrepit infrastructure, and blighted and abandoned properties.
The argument that the city’s focus could and should be placed in better areas is indisputable. The argument that the city leaders are capable of doing more than one thing at a time is a lie. Because they can’t do any of these things well, more or less multiple of them well at the same time. Mitch Landrieu once said “smart people can do more than one thing at a time” while defending his monument obsession from criticism that he ignored the city’s crime problem while focusing on a personal legacy-building issue.
In almost poetic fashion, since the removal of the monuments, the city-run Sewerage and Water Board has been a complete disaster. It’s evident in the incorrect billing, insufficient services, failed infrastructure, street flooding, and what might be illegal billing for sanitation services that the city does not fully provide. Not to mention the number of Sewerage and Water Board employees arrested and the FBI raid.
Mitch Landrieu argued in favor of monument removal stating, “We have the opportunity to show the world that we as New Orleanians, and Southerners, are able to bring our community together around the prospect of a better future.” Despite his delusions, Mitch’s futuristic vision of New Orleans more accurately reflects the catchy signs seen around town in 2017 which stated, “Monuments Down, Crime Up.”
Most people have heard the joke, America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland. La Nouvelle Orleans was founded as a French city. It still retains much French influence, highlighted with Spanish influence as well as its own historical identity. Instead of enhancing the city’s culture with new street names in place of bird, gem, or tree names, this City Council and its Streets Renaming Commission vindictively attempt to rewrite the city’s existence, one of beauty and depth envied by municipalities across the United States. The City Council is molding the beautiful crescent into Cleveland. A reader emailed a suggestion that since the current power structure in New Orleans is changing so much, they should rename the city because its current form has little resemblance to the once great New Orleans.