Tear ’em all down

Wow. This is one of the monuments taken down in Louisiana. It does not forlornly honor the war dead, it celebrates a paramilitary seizure of the state government by white supremacists, and it isn’t at all coy about saying so.

United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.

“Gave us our state”. They weren’t shy about saying who owned the state, who belonged there, who was going to control everything, even if it was at gunpoint.

I’m now agreeing that these should be removed, but not destroyed. They belong in a museum. A museum of shame, disgrace, and dishonor. Hey, good ol’ boys, this is what your granpappy fought and died for, for slavery and oppression, and don’t you forget it!


  1. dhabecker says

    Maybe it should be displayed in the National Museum of African History and Culture; right next to the display of slave shackles.

  2. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    The one virtue of those old white guys was their honesty. Nothing about states’ rights or economic factors, just pure racism and white supremacy.

  3. says

    Ok, but …

    Suggesting that several hundred tons (across several monuments) be put into a museum is, to the museum curator’s world, like saying that the world would be better if a college professor such as, say, PZ Myers, would just teach the following list of courses and drop what he was already doing! Might be a good idea, but museums have limited resources, important often unsung and under-appreciated internal priorities (every object they acquire has to be treated well, and they can’t easily throw stuff out) and significant external demands.

    As noted in my post, this monument was originally removed from its first location in order to be “put in a museum” but there was no such transfer, and I assume that is because the idea of taking it down and putting it in a museum was proposed as a way out of the conversation at the time, and no museums were consulted. No sane museum would take anything like such a monument. Maybe across the world there are a few 19th century monuments a few museums would take. But, a museum will only take something like this with the appropriate funding to expand storage (yes their storage is full) and/or to develop an exhibit (yes, that takes money, museum professionals get paid for their work and they need to buy a lot of two sided tape and stuff!)

    So, really, the museum option is not an option. One could seek a way to move a handful of thematically similar monuments to somewhere and let them live there (that had already happened with this one). Perhaps, like we have a holocaust museum, we need a Civil War and States Rights Conflict museum in which we expose all the stupidity from Jackson to the present for what it is, and monuments like this could go there. Problem is, some large double digit percent of the population ARE white supremacists and states rights nuts, etc.

    It would be like getting a National Atheism and Separation of Church and State museum built on the Mall in DC. A great idea, but the time is not quite here.

  4. says

    OK, then a nice, high quality photograph of that inscription, beautifully framed, hanging on the wall with a note in the program guide saying, “This is what those assholes flying confederate flags on their pickup trucks are defending.”

  5. unclefrogy says

    kind of resembles scenes seen in eastern Europe of the removal of statues of Stalin and Lenin and the removal of statues of Saddam in Iraq though in the Great State of Louisiana they had to do the work at night wearing masks.
    The monuments are going down but the ass holes remain.

    uncle frogy

  6. says

    I strongly believe that a full on archival level documentation of the monuments is or should have been done. High res photographs, material sampling. In the case of inscriptions, you can cut them out and save them possibly.

    The same thing you do with nice historic buildings that are slated for demo. We call it “above ground archaeology” and it can be a very rewarding experience, especially because it usually involves sledge hammers.

  7. cartomancer says

    Of course, if you want to take a leaf out of the Romans’ book you could just get a stonemason to turn the offending monument into something more in keeping with contemporary mores. Maybe some artful desecration of the figures and then a bigger, more visible inscription next to the racism pointing out how awful it is and exhorting viewers not to forget it.

    This would have the added advantage that if some furious nazi comes along with the idea of desecrating the new monument, they won’t be able to, because it’s deliberately ruined.

  8. says

    I like that idea, melt the statues down and make a statue of Harriet Tubman, then resurface the marble, deeper.
    Or maybe a nice satanist statue, or a statue of Sherman or Grant, or Chelsea Manning. Joke ’em in they can’t take a fuck.

  9. brett says

    There’s no need to put them in an existing museum. Instead, buy an open field wherever it’s cheap, and pile them up there along with new plaques describing where they were, why they were really erected, and why they were taken down. Call it the “Field of Dishonor”, or the “Open Air Museum of Confederate Statuary”.

  10. mattand says

    I’m dealing with a semi-relative who’s posting this fucking “You’re ignoring history by taking these things down” bullshit on Facebook. I should let it be, I guess, but I’m tired of seeing white people whine about their Southern “heritage”. Pointing out that these guys split from the US because they wanted to keep slavery going does nothing. They literally shut down and accuse of you of censorship or pretending the Civil War didn’t happen.

    The irony, if I’m using that right, is this woman is also constantly posting anti-Trump memes.

  11. dhabecker says

    As a young New York State teen in the fifties, we had been taught that Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves and now we were all equal. Weren’t us white folk wonderful? Then we took a trip to Florida and somewhere south of Pennsylvania I saw a sign that said ‘Colored Only’, and another ‘White Only’. It was like a slap in the face as my father tried to explain what they meant. I hope those signs still exist in some museum.
    Chisel the words off the monument and save them; not a picture. We all need a slap in the face now and then.

  12. John Harshman says

    #12 Brett:

    There actually is such an open-air museum in Budapest, containing all the Soviet Realism sculpture collected from the area. Oh, and if you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Museum of Terror, located in the former secret police headquarters. (That is, if it’s still around. Hungary seems to be going south at the moment.)

  13. butler says

    Here’s an idea: Sell the statues at auction and put the proceeds towards a statue of Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Butler etc. Then the racists will have to choose between funding a memorial against slavery or letting the bidding be won by someone who plans to livestream themselves smashing the statue to pieces with a sledgehammer. It would also sidestep the issue of the government destroying art, as any destruction or preservation will be undertaken by private citizens on private property.

  14. John Harshman says

    #17 butler,

    Silly. Harriet Tubman and Ben Butler aren’t part of history, the way Robert E. Lee and P. G. T. Beauregard are. That’s why there aren’t statues of them already. I’m assuming.

  15. NYC atheist says

    @3 Saad

    I believe the phrase you’re looking for is ‘economic anxiety.’

  16. KG says

    John Harshman@16,

    I was going to ask if there’s any museum commemorating Hungarian fascism in the pre-war, WWII, and indeed post-war eras. Including its latest achievements in dismantling democratic institutions, and getting Sebastain Gorka into the Trump White House.

  17. says

    Oh, and if you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Museum of Terror, located in the former secret police headquarters. (That is, if it’s still around. Hungary seems to be going south at the moment.)

    I’ve been to the House of Terror! It’s supposed to be about the fascist and Communist terror, but if my recollection holds (and I think it does, because I was so struck by it at the time) basically the whole thing is devoted to Communism with like one room dedicated to fascism. While the Communist exhibits go so far as to call individuals out by name on a wall of shame, the fascist room consisted of a group of figures sitting or standing around a table. I don’t think they even had faces. I’ve been to some strange museums, but that one was definitely among the most bizarre. It says a lot more about the people who conceived of it than it does about the history it’s supposed to describe.