At one point, it seemed hard to imagine white supremacists sinking any lower to protect their confederate monuments. After all, even though they’d lost and several monuments had already come down, they’d waged a campaign and intimidated a number of contractors, public workers and politicians with death, car bombs and harassment in New Orleans. And lawmakers in Alabama passed a bill to ensure that it was next to impossible to make any changes to confederate monuments in the state. Then, over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Klan 2.0 gathered with torches shouting “You will not replace us” in an effort to halt the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee from one of the city’s parks. So it seemed like, at this point, they had really done all they could do to make sure they had fought the good fight to keep these monuments in tact.
But, alas, we can never really underestimate white supremacy and the lengths it will go to in order to preserve itself. Which is why on Monday, the Louisiana House passed a bill which now requires an election before any war memorial can be removed or even altered. How convenient. By preventing “any” war memorial from being removed or altered at all, they are ensuring the protection of any and all confederate monuments.
The fraught debate over the bill quickly turned to its authors’ conception of Civil War history, or the “War Between the States,” as the bill calls it. After being questioned by Rep. Sam Jones (D), Rep. Thomas Carmody (R) said he did not believe slavery was the reason for the Civil War, and that the South had a legal right to secede from the Union.
The proposed law has implications beyond the current firestorm. Any time a city wants to re-dedicate a street or park or school named after virtually any veteran of any war, they would be required to hold an election seeking permission. [...]
The bill’s language is exceptionally broad. It stipulates that “no public memorial, including any structure, plaque, statue, monument, school, street, bridge, building, park, or area, that has been dedicated in memory of or named for any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization, or military unit shall be altered, removed, relocated, destroyed, rededicated, or renamed.”
Sigh. How many times do we really have to have this debate? Rep. Carmody doesn’t believe that slavery wasn’t the reason for the civil war? That sounds a lot like the alternative facts we heard just a few weeks ago from Donald Trump. And we know how very unintelligent that sounded.
“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the civil war,” Trump told the Examiner’s Salena Zito. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart.
“He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the civil war. He said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’ People don’t realize, you know, the civil war – if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there a civil war? Why could that one not have been worked out?”
Can you imagine what it must of have been like for the black members of the Louisiana legislature to have to sit there and actually remain composed while their hideously racist colleagues try to defend this monstrosity of a bill? Of course, it’s not like they aren’t used to enduring gross injustice. If you are black in America (especially of a certain age), you are used to your share of indignities. But this really takes the cake.
“We talk about history but we are ignoring a very significant part of my history,” said Rep. Ted James (D), noting that some of his white colleagues’ ancestors raped his ancestors. “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen done in this building…I’m asking that you not just stand with my ancestors but remember that many of us are linked by the same blood.”
Rep. Katrina Jackson (D) pointed out that African Americans are the minority in many smaller cities in Louisiana, which puts them at a disadvantage in any popular vote to remove monuments to white supremacy or slavery.
“Why are we classifying monuments to those who promoted slavery as military monuments?” she asked.
Because your colleagues are incredibly racist and disgusting human beings, Rep. Jackson, that’s why. And no good can come from this shameful piece of legislation except the further marginalization of black people and the denial of a very racist past. But don’t expect your colleagues to own up to that.
And then this happened. The entire Black Caucus got up and walked out.
Sadly, this is so outrageous it’s not even shocking. White supremacy is constantly coming up with new ways to make itself mainstream and relevant. It simply will not go away. As always, we take a few steps forward and several giant steps back. At least the monuments in New Orleans have already come down. And perhaps other cities in the South will follow suit.