Tuesday, April 25, 2017

That Will Really Make a Difference

They are taking down statues honoring those that fought for the Confederacy in New Orleans this year.  To give you some idea of how divisive this issue is in that city, construction crews are dressed in black jumpsuits with military helmets, bulletproof vests and scarves covering their faces.  The logos on the sides of their trucks and their license plates have been covered over so no one knows who they work for.  And police sharp shooters are stationed around the work area--with work being done only in the middle of the night.  Notice of this week's work was provided to the media--but further statue removal will be done covertly.

Those extreme measures show the depth of emotion that some people still have for the "lost cause" of the Confederacy--that they would threaten to kill anyone that would try to remove statues of Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis.  But those who have pushed for the removal of those statues shouldn't be claiming any major victory either.  It's not like no longer having those monuments around is going to change what happened--or really influence what is going to happen going forward.

Having no public displays pertaining to the Confederacy or slavery in the South doesn't magically make that chapter in American History go away.  It's funny how when memorials are dedicated, the speakers always say it's so "we never forget".  But that apparently doesn't apply when the event or person being remembered is embarrassing or makes us feel uncomfortable--then it's better to take it down and hide it away in storage.

Removing the statues won't affect the high crime rates in minority neighborhoods in New Orleans--which featured the highest murder rate of a large American city in 2011.  It won't solve high rates of African-American incarceration--where one in 14 are currently behind bars--and one in seven have spent time in prison.  Not having memorials to the Confederacy won't raise test scores in New Orleans schools--where even charter schools get "F" grades in state report cards.  And no public references to the city's history in the Civil War won't cut down on the high rates of drug and alcohol addiction--nor the use of its port to smuggle in illicit drugs from around the world.

Taking down statues and removing flags are window dressing on social ills that arguably started at the time those public displays first went up.  All that's being done right now making some people feel good about themselves.  And it still doesn't require accountability from those who have gone without for generations.

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