The survey showed that an astounding 73% of Louisiana residents support the monuments remaining, whereas only 20% favor removing them. Even though New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu claimed that the monuments were an affront to African Americans, the poll showed a different result. Among African American residents, there was more support for keeping the monuments at 47% than for their removal, which only registered 40% support.
With this kind of massive support, it is truly ludicrous that Landrieu has made the removal of Confederate monuments such a signature issue. It is unpopular even in New Orleans as it surely played a role in his property tax measure being defeated on April 9. It is also a reason why his approval rating has dropped in the past year.
While the Mayor may have thought the monument removal process would be easy and non-controversial, in reality, it has proven to be a very difficult challenge for his administration. Most notably, Landrieu faces a court challenge as the Monumental Task Committee, a group that has maintained the city’s monuments for decades, and other historic preservation groups have challenged the city council’s decision to remove the monuments.
In March, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the city cannot remove the monuments until the entire appeals process is over. In a slow moving justice system, who knows how long this appeal will take.
In the meantime, the Landrieu administration has faced numerous challenges finding contractors to remove the monuments. Several of them have quit, while others have expressed concern about the negative publicity resulting from such a project.
While the appeal moves forward in federal court, there are several bills being debated in the Louisiana Legislature to protect the monuments. One was defeated in a Senate committee, while another one is still alive in the House. Maybe legislators should look at these poll results and at least give the bill a chance to be voted on by the entire legislature. It seems that in both the House and Senate the bills were placed in very unfavorable committees which have been reluctant to move the bills forward for consideration. It is time for the 73% of Louisiana voters to contact legislators and express their opinion about this vital matter.
If the legislature does not act and the appeal is not successful, then the Mayor may be able to remove the monuments. If so, it will be a very dark day for New Orleans.
The entire effort is a politically correct and divisive move that has harmed the city’s reputation as it is on the verge of celebrating its tri-centennial anniversary. It is also an attempt to remove priceless pieces of art, true treasures, that should be valued not potentially destroyed.
Clearly, the Mayor’s gambit is an attack on the 300-year history of New Orleans. No part of the history of New Orleans should be eradicated, it all should be remembered. It is only in that way that citizens can learn and improve and make important strides toward progress.
In pushing this controversial idea, the Mayor may have been trying to curry favor with Democrat Party leaders or African American constituents. Maybe he saw this as a way to capitalize on the tragic murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina by a white supremacist and generate national headlines.
Whatever his motives, at this point, is surely looks like an ill-considered venture. A reasonable Mayor would sense the problems that have ensued and disengage from the entire endeavor.
Unfortunately, Mayor Landrieu is now too invested in the goal of removing the monuments to reconsider. As a result, this issue has the potential to overshadow much of his second term agenda.
In the end, if the monuments are destroyed, whatever is left of the Mayor’s legacy may very well be destroyed as well.