Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mayor Turner wants a study about Confederate statues in Houston

No.  No further "study" is needed to decide whether or not to remove the monuments to the Confederacy in the Bayou City.  I'm fisking Kuff here instead of there.

1.  This question suggests you believe that there is no existing record of statuary within the city's archives.  That would be a laughable premise.  If nothing else, the city requires permits and approvals before statues are erected, so if there is no listing, there is surely a history of permit approvals that should be easily searchable.  It might not be comprehensive to the city's 181-year existence, it may not be digitized, but the past fifty to one hundred years' worth ought to both exist and be easily found and poured over.  A list could be made in time for the next council meeting.

It's hard for me to believe this was a serious query, Charles.  If there were no list of statues, then a lot of city administrators have failed over a very long period of time, which is certainly possible but highly doubtful.  On the chance, however, that no list exists or can be found, I will agree that it is way past time for statues of every kind in the city to be documented.

2.  This isn't the part that requires study; this is the action item.  Several cities, such as Lexington, Baltimore, and New Orleans -- not to mention dozens of others across the United States and even Texas -- are way ahead of Houston in this regard.  Why is that?  Houston's reputation isn't one of waiting for others to "innovate", or progress.  Quite the opposite.  Now, when the issue has moved to the forefront of social consciousness, the mayor calls for a study?  I would ask, obviously: why?  How long?  For what purpose?

3.  Maybe you haven't been able to attend or watch on closed circuit television the city council meetings; that's understandable.  But that's where this sort of discussion takes place (besides on blogs, that is).  We elect city council members to make these tough calls.  Again, not sure why this is a question that requires an answer unless everybody in Houston needs it explained to them like they were fifth-graders.  Granted, there are all those home-schooled Republicans in the exurbs, but still ...

4.  My goodness, sir; the mayor and city council are the ones authorized to make this decision.  The bureaucrats you mention are tasked with executing their order.  Although if enough citizens want to sign a petition to put it on the ballot, there's that.

Four-for-four in really and truly dumb questions, Chuck-o.  You should, in fact, keep going until you ask a question that isn't Captain Obviously-answered.

The Mayor's Special Assistant had a better reply, or excuse for the mayor's recalcitrance, as I would define it.  But the answer there is also pretty clear: there shouldn't need to be much rumination involved for someone who has experienced first-hand the very worst of what the Confederacy represents in his own lifetime, to say nothing of his forebearers.

Now then, to demonstrate that there is some discussion, if not study, that's worth having -- considering both sides of the question in a careful manner -- let me paraphrase my friend David Courtney.  Oh hell, let me just quote him direct.

I think that we should rethink the removal of Confederate symbols. It does not improve long standing racial tensions. It does not address the predatorial business which suck the financial resources out of black communities. It does not address disparities in income or political involvement. It does not address the pressures which are being felt by African American owned business, or historically black universities. It does nothing to advance the well being of African American communities across the country. But it does advance the cause of the Alt-Right by providing them with a simple touchstone by which they can organise.

These are thoughtful and cogent words from a school of thought to which I am not enrolled.  I'll simply say that trying to accommodate, mollify, or otherwise negotiate in good faith with Nazis has not been demonstrated to be a successful tactic throughout the course of history.  IIRC we fought a war over that, the entire world was involved, and the Nazis got their asses kicked.

Among the Sixties memories I would choose not to re-live -- like imminent threats of World War Three and white power rallies -- add a Forties lesson our grandparents and great-grandparents all taught us with their lives, the ones lost and the ones forever impacted.

Never A-Fucking-gain.

Same goes for statues to Confederate "heroes" (sic).  They were traitors to their country.  History would be different if they had won the Civil War, but they did not.  Nobody wants to watch an HBO miniseries to see what it may have been like if they had, either.  No rewriting or whitewashing of history at any time, and never by the racist losers of a rebellion.

Take the statues to the Confederacy down from the public square and put them in a place -- a park in the most Caucasian of suburbs, or a museum -- so nobody can whine about their history being erased.  If it's private property, they can charge admission and not be obligated to condition their alternate facts, carefully chosen by white supremacists long ago to twist truth, logic, and reason far beyond its tensile strength.

How long ago?  Read Glenn Melancon's post linking to the New York Review of Book's piece on James McPherson's Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, published in 2001.  For the click-over-disinclined, here's your Cliff's Note:

Southern politicians didn't want states' rights, they wanted slave owner rights. Only after losing on the battle field did they create a States' Rights mythology to cover up their moral and treasonous crimes, but also to start a new one, Jim Crow.

This topic has been studied long enough.  It's time for our leaders to take action.  The Houston activists aren't waiting around, after all.


Gadfly said...

Rawlings has said "task force" in Dallas.


" Councilman Kevin Felder called the monuments "symbols of racism" and says he has talked with Mayor Mike Rawlings about speeding up a proposed 90-day study by a task force to decide what to do with the statues."

Dallas also has the issue of renaming the RL Thornton Freeway. Dunno if Houston has any highways named after "prominent Klansmen."

Gadfly said...

Oh, and where to store, or deposit, those statues? Per a comment at Kuff, and on Twitter.

Drop them all on Vidor. And, I mean literally drop, if we need to.

Problem solved.