NEW ORLEANS — Last year, the City of New Orleans cut the ribbon on the new streetcar line that runs along North Rampart. It took two years to build and includes a series of streetlights that were chosen for the $40 million project because they blend in with the historic neighborhoods along the route.
If you look closely at the lights, the bases have four sides and commemorate countries that have ruled Louisiana. One reads, “Spanish Domination 1769-1803.” Another one marks the period France ruled. Yet another side reads, “American Domination 1803-1861 1865 To Date. The fourth side on the base of the new light posts reads, “Confederate Domination 1861-1865.”
We have not yet found when these streetlights were first put up. However we have found that they have been there for at least 10 years. They were not replaced during the construction of the the new streetcar line, and have only recently come under fire from local media outlet, WGNO, an affiliate of ABC.
WGNO has asked infamous history hater Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office for comment on these light poles and asked if the city would consider removing them as well. As of the time of the writing of this article, there has been no response.
It begs the question, why, after all this time, are these representations of the four governments that ruled over the city suddenly offensive? Are we to remove, discredit, and forget all history? As George Santayana once said, 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' We should remember history, as accurately as possible in order to learn from it. This includes history that suits us, as well as history that may offend us.
Nothing in this streetlight can be contorted to be found offensive, racist, or anything other than historically accurate. It is time to stop this assault on history by politicians, mega-media, and for profit groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the NAACP.
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