I am very mindful that I am writing my last post for this month during the dying minutes of Memorial Day, a day when we remember those we have lost who helped preserved the freedom all of us have gained. Many of us count friends and family among those who are absent--an uncle, a cousin, and a father-in-law, in my case--and it is entirely fair to say that, for those of us in that circumstance, this day is especially meaningful.
So it seems weirdly appropriate to reflect on the recent removal, in New Orleans, of public monuments to the "Lost Cause" of the Confederacy, as well as similar action that is being contemplated by the mayor of Baltimore. For some, this is political correctness (so-called) run amok, an attempt to "re-write" history.
But is it? Nobody's pretending the Civil War didn't happen, or that the people who fought it didn't live, or that (whether North or South) the people who fought it didn't believe they were standing up for values they believed in. Nobody's making the case that we should not remember the Civil War, or what it was about.
It's very simple: it was a war to free the slaves in Southern states, because people should never be treated as property. Period. The right side one and, to perhaps put it crudely, history is written by the winners. That's a fact conservatives are willing to acknowledge when it works in favor of their heroes. Why shouldn't that principle be a two-way street, politically speaking, in a democracy? For that matter, no monuments need be destroyed in the process; they can be moved to museums, where they can be viewed in a proper educational context. All that is being asked is that we stop pretending that the Lost Cause was a gallant one. It was lost for a reason: it was wrong.
Perhaps all of this is better said here, by Mitch Landrieu, the Mayor of New Orleans (Moon's son, Mary's brother, for those of you who follow political dynasties). Read his words carefully. There was a time when politics was filled with leaders who spoke to our best instincts with such eloquence. Perhaps there can be such a time again.
I hope your Memorial Day was safe and meaningful, and that it has inspired you as much as Mayor Landrieu's words should.