March 7, 2016 01:28 PM

A Republican state senator from Washington Parish has pre-filed a bill for the 2016 regular session that would bar New Orleans, Lafayette and ever other city in the state of Louisiana from removing, relocating or adding context to Confederate monuments, even if those monuments are on city property and belong to the municipality.

Senate Bill 276 by Sen. Beth Mizell, a freshman Republican from Franklinton, would create the Louisiana Heritage Protection Commission, an oversight body whose seven members would be appointed by leaders in the Legislature. The secretary of the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism would also serve on the commission.

Indeed, the bill ostensibly pertains to monuments and statues to every armed conflict the United States has participated in (emphasis ours):

“Historic conflict” means any war, battler or military conflict in which citizens of the United States or any state or territory of the United States have participated in, including, but not limited to, the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, Unites States-Mexican War, the War Between the States, Spanish American War, the Mexican border period, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada), Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya), Operation Just Cause (Panama), Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War I), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Persian Gulf War II).

That white lady, Mrs. Mizell
While Mizell’s bill deftly enumerates every “war, battler or military conflict” the U.S. or its territories have participated in, SB 276 is undeniably about the Civil War and the Confederate monuments that proliferated in Louisiana and elsewhere across the Deep South in the decades after the Civil War.

So it isn’t curious, at all, that Mizell uses the politically charged term War Between the States in place of the most-commonly used Civil War in her white heritage bill. War Between the States was, like War of Northern Aggression, a moniker that gained favor in the South in the decades following the war as white Southerners across the former Confederacy desperately tried to convince themselves that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery by erecting monuments to a bunch of “brave and noble” white people. In broad strokes this post-bellum myth-making was known as the Lost Cause.

Remember when the U.S. invaded Panama in 1989 and captured military dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega? It’s true, the many monuments to Operation Just Cause will also not be consigned to the dust bin of history. Also safe from the historical revisionists are all those plaques and statues to America’s righteous 1983 invasion of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada in which the stars and stripes both kicked ass and took names.

The bill states that “no memorial regarding a historic conflict, historic entity, historic event, historic figure, or historic organization that is, or is located on, public property, may be removed, renamed, relocated, altered, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed or altered.”

In other words, if the bill passes not only would New Orleans be prevented from (re)moving the Confederate monuments to Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. PGT Beauregard, the city couldn’t even do anything with the obelisk commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place, arguably the most racist, ugly event in the history of the Crescent City, as Wikipedia notes:

The Battle of Liberty Place, or Battle of Canal Street, was an attempted insurrection by the Crescent City White League against the Reconstruction state government on September 14, 1874, in New Orleans, where it was then based. ...The insurgents held the statehouse, armory, and downtown for three days, retreating before arrival of Federal troops that restored the elected government. No insurgents were charged in the action. This was the last major event of violence stemming from the disputed 1872 gubernatorial election. ... In 1891, the city erected a monument to commemorate and praise the insurrection from the Democratic Party point of view, which at the time was in firm political control of the city and state and was in the process of disenfranchising most blacks. The white marble obelisk was placed at a prominent location on Canal Street. In 1932, the city added an inscription that expressed a white supremacist view.

For readers who miraculously got this far in the article and who just read “Democratic Party” and had a Rush Limbaugh moment of jubilation, please remember that the Democrats were the party of white, Southern racists until Democratic leaders in the mid-20th century embraced the Civil Rights Movement, at which point the racist Dems began defecting en masse to the GOP. OK? Keep that in mind? Donald Trump, just sayin’.

The base of the Battle of Liberty Place obelisk in New Orleans has an inscription: “United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.” It really says that, and it was added in 1932, a decade after the monument to Gen. Alfred Mouton was erected in Lafayette, which should give us some insight into the context in which General Mouton rose to such prominence here in the Hub City. (Hint: It was about white supremacy.)

New Orleans later added an additional inscription to the Liberty Place monument to reflect a modern, multi-ethnic appreciation for the battle: “In honor of those Americans on both sides of the conflict who died at the Battle of Liberty Place ... A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future”

If Sen. Mizell’s bill were to become law, Lafayette would be prohibited, without the blessing of an appointed commission, of doing anything to add context to our own monument to the Confederacy and Jim Crow, like New Orleans did with its Battle of Liberty Place monument.

Anyone who favors local control and small government — I'm talking to you, conservative Republicans — should oppose this bill, which adds another layer of government bureaucracy, the Louisiana Heritage Protection Commission, and prevents cities in Louisiana from acting on the will of their democratically elected leaders. The state of Alabama did this recently in passing legislation that prevents cities in Alabama from raising the minimum wage, which Birmingham wanted to do. Other states have done it to prevent towns from banning fracking. It’s heavy-handed BS and we should have none of it.

Gen. Alfred Mouton’s smirk just got a little smugger.

Read the bill by clicking here.


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