Bobby Jindal Vows To Fight Removal Of New Orleans Monuments To White Supremacy

The city of New Orleans is rich in history. As one of the largest cities in North America, it has seen its share of battles, riots, crimes and disruption. And, as you’d expect with such a history, the Crescent City has lots of monuments, markers, statues and plaques. Some of these celebrate parts of the city’s history that are better ignored.

The New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission and Human Relations Commission have both recommended that four of these be removed. Statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard and a monument to the Battle of Liberty Place should all be taken down, the committees say. The statues may be arguable, but the Liberty Place monument is clearly a celebration of white supremacy and defiance against the federal government.

The Battle of Liberty Place occurred in 1874, when a group of white supremacists attacked the Metropolitan Police Force along Canal Street and routed them. The White League held the city for 3 days, until President Grant sent federal troops in. The monument to this insurgence was erected in 1891. By the 1980s, it had fallen into disrepute and was moved to an obscure corner where it sits to this day, largely forgotten. Until now.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, hearing about the decisions of New Orleans’ Historic District Landmarks Commission and Human Relations Commission, decided to wade into the issue. In a statement on Thursday, the governor’s office indicated that it will fight the removal of these markers of the city’s racist past:

“Gov. Jindal opposes the tearing down of these historical statues and has instructed his staff to look into the Heritage Act to determine the legal authority he has as governor to stop it.”

Except there is no such thing as a “Heritage Act.” Not in Louisiana, anyway. Apparently, Jindal has confused his state with South Carolina. In light of this, Jindal’s office walked back the comment, saying that his office was “looking into” what it can do.

What Jindal can do is nothing. The Lieutenant Governor’s office is in charge of the state’s historic preservation affairs, says that there are no laws that would allow Jindal to override the decisions of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the City Council. But that probably won’t stop Jindal from making this an issue in his weak run at the presidency. As my friend Hunter at Daily Kos notes:

“But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who continues to foist himself on the rest of us as supposed presidential material, needs new campaign fodder and is not terribly picky about what it might be. So he’s decided that defending Confederate monuments from the mean city that doesn’t want them anymore is a horse worth hitching his wagon to.”

The debate over the removal of these monuments will, no doubt, rage hot and heavy in the city. The usual lines will be drawn but, in the end, it comes down to the decision of the Mayor and City Council. While there could be an argument for keeping the statues, the memorial to a White Supremacist uprising against the federal government should be consigned to the scrap heap. Just like the mentality it represents.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons