Was history being revised just as the city was still covered in darkness in the wee hours of the morning when the sun was still hiding? Was the timing suspect for the eager beavers who wanted to do the job ASAP? Or from another perspective, is the work a symbolic move to correct a once dominant narrative?
New Orleans started removing the first of four prominent confederate monuments early Monday when it was still dark. New Orleans just became the latest Southern city to do away with symbols viewed by some as a representation of racism and white supremacy.
Fox News reported that truckers started arriving around 1:25 a.m. to begin removing the Liberty Monument, a symbol which commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans. The workers reportedly started early to avoid potential disruption from supporters who want the monuments to remain where they are, as they are, and to mean what they meant to them. Officials claimed that some supporters even issued death threats. Workers who were inspecting the statue prior to the demolition job could be seen wearing flak jackets and helmets. Police officers were in a comfortable distance at top of the parking garage of a nearby hotel.
It is certainly a contentious and divisive issue. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu thinks that the Liberty Monument is the "most offensive" of the four set scheduled to be taken down. He feels that it was especially built and erected there to "reverse white supremacy". People who agree with the mayor and want the Confederate memorials removed feel that such are offensive artifacts honoring the region's slave-owning past. Those who believe the monuments should stay, on the other hand, say the monuments are part of the city's history and they should be protected historic structures.
Three other statues to Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis will also be removed in the coming days since legal challenges have been overcome.
Landrieu insists "there's a better way to use the property these monuments are on" and in his belief, there's also a better way that reflects who they are as a people. New Orleans is a majority African-American city, but the population of black residents decreased since Hurricane Katrina devastated the place in 2005 and drove many people away from the city.
The City Council's black majority in 2015 voted 6-1 to approve plans to take the statues down, but they faced legal challenges, that is why it has taken this long before the resolution can be implemented. The city's black residents overwhelmingly supported the plans to remove the monuments.
Landrieu insists the monuments don't represent his city which is nearing its 300th anniversary next year. Once all the monuments are removed, they will be stored and preserved until an "appropriate" place to display them anew is determined, still according to the city mayor. The mayor further describes the monuments as "an aberration" and a "denial of history".
Even at the national level, the debate over Confederate symbols has become heated since the controversial incident where nine parishioners were killed at a black church in South Carolina in June 2015. South Carolina had to remove the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds in the weeks following the killings. Since then, several other Southern cities have since considered removing monuments. The University of Mississippi took down it's state flag because it includes the Confederate emblem.
It remains an open discussion, however, in the national consciousness if in this case, the politically-correct is always right, or if it is just a matter of the noisiest getting their way with the 'proper' reading and remembrance of history.