New Orleans has seen its share of debates over Civil War statues and monuments lately (although it interests me that the monument to the Battle of Liberty Place, a Reconstruction event that was clearly linked to the restoration of white supremacy, is sometimes classified as a “Civil War” monument). It looks as if three clearly Confederate monuments may be relocated, although I’ll believe it when I see it (note that this blog has not taken a position on removing such monuments, believing that it’s up to the community to decide … a point lost on some readers, particularly those who want to erect straw men to go with their whine).
Now comes a project that I find amusing, to say the least. New Orleans has recently opened a new streetcar line along North Rampart Street, which is northeast of historic Jackson Square.
In keeping with a restoration theme, the city decided to place brightly-painted green streetlamps along the route. They are based upon the original lamp posts, nearly ninety years old in design. The lamp posts carry inscriptions on the four sides as a nod to local history:
One reads, “Spanish Domination 1769-1803.” Another one marks the period France ruled. Yet another side reads, “American Domination 1803-1861 1865 To Date.”
You’ll never guess what the fourth side reads.
The fourth side on the base of the new light posts reads, “Confederate Domination 1861-1865.”
To be sure, there are some problems with this designation. The Confederacy did not “dominate” New Orleans during the entire American Civil War. Just ask David G. Farragut, who seized it in April 1862, or Benjamin Butler, who soon dominated the city (and perhaps its spoons) during a controversial stint as occupation commander. So the sign needs modification.
Also recall who owned New Orleans just before the US acquired it in 1803. Hint: Spain did not sell Louisiana to the United States. It was French again, although for less than a month.
The designations seem as pointless as they are misinformed, and what does “domination” actually mean?
The first picture clearly suggests that these designations are rather easy to remove (and may already have been subject to vandalism). Yet, as soon as a local television station reported this story … Confederate heritage apologists went crazy.
Note how quickly race entered the discussion in various social media sites, as well as politics and that hobby horse of the mindless, “political correctness” (which continues to be the best way to denigrate without discussing something).
All we now need is the Virginia Flaggers to declare that the lamp posts aren’t coming down to make sure that they do. Otherwise, much ado about nothing. What silliness.