It’s taken more than 150 years, but there will soon be one less monument to the slaveholding Confederacy of the American Civil War. A statue in New Orleans was the first of four scheduled for removal after local officials voted and overcame a series of hurdles.
The Associated Press reports that Liberty Monument, a statue that was built in honor of the Crescent City White League, will be the first local monument to go. Mayor Mitch Landrieu considers the obelisk to be the most offensive of the four monuments as it was built specifically to “revere white supremacy.”
“There’s a better way to use the property these monuments are on and a way that better reflects who we are,” said Landrieu.
“The monuments are an aberration,” he continued. “They’re actually a denial of our history and they were done in a time when people who still controlled the Confederacy were in charge of this city and it only represents a four-year period in our 1000-year march to where we are today.”
To most of New Orleans’ citizens, it was an easy choice to make when they were asked if monuments to the Confederacy have negative connotations to racism. However, there’s long been a noticeable pushback from those who feel that the city’s four years of involvement in the Civil War should be celebrated if only for history’s sake.
“I think it’s a terrible thing,” said Robert Bonner, a 63-year-old Civil War re-enactor – anyone care to guess which side he’s usually on? “When you start removing the history of the city, you start losing money. You start losing where you came from and where you’ve been.”
Supporters who share this sentiment are a major reason that the city of New Orleans is forced to be cautious when it comes to removing the monuments. For example, construction was scheduled to take place at night with police officers monitoring the operation from a nearby parking garage. The name of the company in charge of taking down the monument was also kept private to keep everyone involved safe.
The reaction to the removal of these monuments – despite a 6-1 vote by city council in 2015 –offers some intriguing insight into the views of both the Confederacy and the Civil War. Firstly, some people are so invested in mantras of “The South will rise again!” that they’ve convinced themselves the war wasn’t about slavery. Secondly, some just don’t care and enjoy having the monuments around to justify their own feelings of white supremacy.