Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Shouting in New Orleans, Kevin Levin horrified.

The City Council in New Orleans has voted 6 to 1 to get rid of three Confederate monuments and one monument that celebrated the restoration of white supremacy in New Orleans through violence.


Evidently there was rancor in debating this issue.


This has horrified Kevin Levin who referred to this article in his recent posting that Richmond could show New Orleans the way on Confederate monuments and is critical of the efforts in New Orleans to get rid of the monuments.


I track Kevin Levin as representative of a certain type of mentality that tends to find one reason or another to criticize any effort to remove the Confederacy and end a racialized landscape. The concept of a "racialized landscape" won't appear in Levin's blogging.

Some things are immediately obvious. Richmond isn't getting rid of any of its Confederate monuments. New Orleans is getting rid of its Confederate monuments. It seems Richmond might look to New Orleans rather than the other way around.

Levin's link is to the New Orleans major daily paper and it might occur to him that the newspaper might not be very sympathetic to the monument removal, but for the purpose of argument, let's accept that the reporting is accurate. This leads to an observation about Levin's rational that controversy is to be avoided at all cost.

During the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 60s a lot of people didn't oppose civil rights directly, argued instead that it needed to be gradual so that violence and outrage could be avoided. As if African Americans should have their rights denied so some racist white people wouldn't be upset.

Levin's argument is an exact parallel to this.

Levin's example, which he puts forth as counter example to what happened in New Orleans, is the discussion in Richmond about memorializing the slave trade in Shockoe Bottom. This isn't about eliminating a white racialized landscape or doing something about it. It isn't about removing Confederate monuments. However, they evidently don't have heated conversations which is Levin's criteria for judging the process of addressing the landscape. But it is nothing about the Confederacy. It is inane to use it as a counter example.

It doesn't occur to Levin that perhaps this memorial is a ploy to keep the Confederate monuments on monument avenue.

Or more likely it is a ploy to get some of the African American groups to go along with the gentrification of Shockoe Bottom which is going to displace poor African Americans. As explained in this article. http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2013/11/21/richmond-mayor-seeks-to-gentrify-along-slave-burial-ground/

I don't necessarily know all the issues about what is happening in Schockoe Bottom but I am not holding out Schokoe Bottoms development as a reason to slap New Orleans. It also shows how superficial and uncritical Levin's thinking is.

The real obstacle to getting rid of the Confederacy and white racialized landscapes is not just groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy or the Sons of Confederate Veterans and crank white extremists. It is people like Levin who find all sorts of complications and needs for interpretations and their professional input which seem to keep these racialized landscapes in place.

In the following link you can read about how people like Kevin Levin in various historical societies in New Orleans tried to keep the Confederate monuments with their various rationalizations and how they were rejected by the African American community.


What it is, is that the loss of these monuments means the loss of white privilege and various professionals and individuals and historians start instinctively to come up with rationalizations to keep the monuments.

That The Atlantic has him write on Civil War related matters and controversies over Confederate monuments is revealing of the The Atlantic magazine.

Kevin Levin should realize that historical memory isn't the exclusive province of elites nor is it going to be decided by the League of Self-Important Civil War historians.

P.S. My article on white banal nationalism.


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