Thursday, July 12, 2018

the last book I ever read (In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu, except eight)

from In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu:

Slavery was the reason for the war, and as we learn in unblinkered histories, Southerners protecting their “traditional” way of life committed horrendous moral crimes against people of African descent. And yet, in 1884, when the Lee statue was installed, the Daily Picayune captured a mind-set of prevailing power: “We cannot ignore the fact that the secession has been stigmatized as treason and that the purest and bravest men in the South have been denounced as guilty of shameful crime. By every application of literature and art, we must show to all coming ages that with us, at least, there dwells no sense of guilt.” The Cult of the Lost Cause succeeded.

I decided that this sanitizing of history must end. The monuments do not represent history, nor the soul of New Orleans. They were not tools for teaching. Instead, they were the product of a warped political movement by wealthy people supporting a mayor who was determined to regain power for white people, to reduce blacks to second-class status, and to control how history was seen, read, and accepted by whites. As the mayor of this multicultural city, trying to rebuild not as it was but the way it should always have been, I concluded that Wynton was right. They should come down. They are not of our age, nor of our making, and they deserve no prominence in our city.

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