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February 11th, 2016

New Orleans, Louisiana

BEING POLITICALLY CORRECT IN LOUISIANA!

Political correctness continues to be on the march in the Bayou State from Shreveport to New Orleans. Just about everywhere a Civil War commemoration or monument is located, there seems to be some local group calling for a re-writing of history by eliminating such testaments to the past. Poor ole’ Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis can barely draw a pigeon to give them the time of day.

And the war on past tributes is not just limited to southern states wanting to hold on to some remnant of antiquity. Recently the faculty at Brown University, an Ivy League school located in Providence, Rhode Island, voted to eliminate any celebration of Columbus Day. The Italian explorer has been commemorated with a federal holiday on the second Monday in October since 1934.

To the faculty at Brown, Christopher Columbus deserves no special honor in American history because of his enslavement of American Indians. Instead, Columbus Day at Brown will be changed to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day so as to “recognize the contributions of Indigenous People/Native Americans to our community and our culture and foster a more inclusive community,” according to the faculty motion.

Fortunately for Brown, America was not named Columbusia, as the designated honor was bestowed on another American explorer Amerigo Vespucci, even though he landed on the continent seven years after Columbus. The faculty has no problem with Vespucci and the nation being called America. But wait! Wasn’t Vespucci also deeply mired in the slave trade? Weren’t he and Columbus close friends and both involved in capturing and selling American Indians? Should not the Brown University faculty undertake an effort to wipe out any reference to the name America? You can see how absurd all this can become.

So what should Louisiana do about Robert E. Lee, the respected Confederate general, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis? Take down their statutes in New Orleans and other locations throughout the state? I have a better idea. We live in a new period in history with the ability to create virtual reality and 3-D memorials. So how about leaving the present guys alone, but add other famous individuals with Louisiana ties?

Along with Robert E. Lee, let’s add former Sheriff Harry Lee who would be visited by presidents when they came to New Orleans. Spike Lee’s most famous movie was about the Katrina disaster in the Crescent City. Remember Gypsy Rose Lee who made several movies about New Orleans? So did Bruce Lee before he died. Rocker Jerry Lee Louis and famous Louisiana author James Lee Burke also carry on the Lee legacy.

How about Jefferson Davis? Well, we could surround him by former Governor Jimmy Davis along with civil rights leader A.L. Davis. Bette Davis made a number of memorable movies in Louisiana. Remember “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte?” LSU and NBA basketball star Glenn Davis. Emmy award winner Viola Davis has filmed and spent a lot of time in Louisiana. Sammy Davis, Jr. loved performing at the Superdome.

It’s a tough sell to find any other famous Beauregards. General P.G.T. Beauregard is the only native Louisianan commemorated with a major New Orleans monument at the entrance of City Park. He led the Confederate forces when the first shot of the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter. But with no other famous Beauregard’s to join his cause, his supporters will have a real fight on their hands to save this famous warrior’s observance.

Perhaps I’m being a bit flippant here and a little tongue in cheek. Of course there are monuments involving white supremacy that ought to come down. There is no place for Confederate flags to be flying above state capitols. Parts of American history are unsavory in both the north and the south. Louisiana and the nation are better served by remembering and learning from history. Not trying to rewrite or obliterate it.

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A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.“

Marcus Garvey

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownla.com.

 

 

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