Protests over removal of New Orleans’ Liberty Monument prove that the only history that’s ever mattered is white history
If there was ever any doubt that the South is still salty over losing the Civil War, then you need look no further than the events that took place this week in New Orleans. After a nasty debate that included protests, lawsuits, and even death threats, the city took down Liberty Monument, an 1891 obelisk honoring efforts to unseat the city’s biracial post-Civil War government.
Liberty Monument is the first of four monuments slated for removal from New Orleans’ public spaces (monuments honoring Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis are the three remaining), and – by several accounts – is also considered the most offensive.
The monument was created to “celebrate” the victories of the Crescent City White League, a domestic terrorist organization with known ties to the KKK, whose platform of intimidation and murder of Blacks – along with their white allies – was the foundation upon which 19th century southern Democrats used to eventually seize control of Louisiana state.
In an interview with the Associated Press, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said of Liberty Monument: “If was ever a statue that needed to be taken down, it’s that one.”
Opponents of the monument’s removal felt differently.
Those against removing the statues from public view claimed that New Orleans was effectively erasing a part of history – and peppered the city with stickers reading “All Monuments Matter,” while simultaneously taking to the streets, chanting “All History Matters,” in protest.
The SAME people who are SO fond of telling Black folks that what happened to us – what their ancestors DID to us – was “in the past” and “was so long ago,” so we need to “get over it” are now the same ones extolling the virtues of remembering one’s history – because the past helps inform the present, which helps chart the desired course for the future?
Yet, Black folks can’t even hint at the pretense of a discussion of our history in this country, without being accused of “playing the race card,” or trying to use White Guilt as a means of gaining unfair, unearned advantages in a system built and maintained by OUR oppression.
We can’t bring up OUR history as Africans in America, because it usually (if not always) includes a conversation about the legacy of slavery, which then almost always begs the question of “When we will we be paid?”
Because you can’t really talk about Black History without also talking about how to best break bread.
And NOBODY wants to do that.
Least of all the folks who have the nerve to pretend that the preservation of monuments clearly designed to pay homage to known White Supremacists and their attendant philosophies is all about “history,” and has absolutely nothing to do with “supremacy.”
Southern Poverty Law Center agrees. In their article, “Here’s Why the Confederate Monuments in New Orleans Must Come Down,” they wrote:
“There is no historical basis for the position that the Civil War was fought over anything other than the South’s determination to retain the institution of chattel slavery. Beyond ideology lay naked economic and political interests because southern white elites needed cheap labor akin to that provided by slaves [,] if they were to remain a ruling aristocracy.”
And there, my friends, lies the rub: Racist Southern whites (especially, though not specifically) have a problem with the removal of these monuments because they are tangible expressions of their “determination to retain the institution of chattel slavery,” no matter what.
And without tangible symbols of our oppression available to remind us of our “place” within this racist societal construct, we Negroes might get a little out of hand.
And if that happens – if we finally get our balls up, and start demanding our HUMAN rights – then things might start getting messy up in this bitch.
And White Supremacy can’t have that.
How can there be a “ruling white aristocracy” if the very monuments that serve as a testament to white superiority are removed from public view?
More specifically, if they’re removed from our view?
That’s the real “history,” in a nutshell.
And that’s all the history that’s ever been worth repeating.