What was likely the final legal challenge to the removal of the P.G.T. Beuaregard monument in New Orleans ended today with a judge denying a temporary injunction. The three remaining monuments will likely come down within the next few weeks. I suspect that this will happen sooner than later given the potential for violence.
Did it have to come to this? I agree that this is a somewhat silly counterfactual, but let’s imagine for a moment a monument to a former Confederate general not depicted in military uniform and/or on a horse.
What if Beauregard had been depicted in one of his postwar civic roles that highlighted his thoughts on race:
I am persuaded that the natural relation between the white and colored people is that of friendship. I am persuaded that their interests are identical; that their destinies in this state, where the two races are equally divided, are linked together; and that there is no prosperity for Louisiana which must not be the result of their cooperation.
I am equally convinced that the evils anticipated by some men from the practical enforcement of equal rights are mostly imaginary, and that the relation of the races in the exercise of these rights will speedily adjust themselves to the satisfaction of all. [July 1873]
What if R.E. Lee was not atop a pedestal, in uniform, facing north with arms clenched, but depicted in a scene from his brief tenure as president of Washington College that encouraged education in a reunited nation?
Would these monuments be on the chopping block right now? What do you think?