Saturday, May 20, 2017
"...During this time, the fight over the monuments seemed to become a proxy fight for broader culture wars. People who lived in the city tended not to be too bothered about the monuments either way. But on May 7th, a ragtag band of Confederate sympathisers, members of the "alt-right” and people who professed to be fed up with political correctness gathered at the Lee monument—where they met a larger crowd marching in support of monuments’ removal. Few of the most ardent protestors appeared to be from New Orleans.
The “Take ‘Em Down” marchers were young, mostly white newcomers who live in the city but don’t have deep roots in it. They have taken to taunting their opponents with a noisy repurposing of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the Union’s theme song. The monuments’ defenders, meanwhile, have come from all over the South. Their numbers include outspoken extremists like Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, which says it wants to spark a new Confederacy. There were also members of “patriot” groups like the Three Percenters, who said they were there to prevent the “antifa”—masked anti-fascist leftists who have yet to materialise in great numbers at the protests, despite much hype from the alt-right—from harming the pro-monument protesters.
The proxy fight also spread to Baton Rouge, the state’s capital, where the mostly white and Republican-dominated state House passed a bill last week that sought to ban the removal of Confederate monument. That prompted a walkout by disgusted members of the black caucus, which said the vote revealed "a deep-rooted belief in a white supremacy".
There was, at least, no violence during the long weeks of argument. Even though some of the protesters were armed and spoiling for a fight, the most they managed during various protests was a bit of shoving. New Orleans police, adept at managing unruly crowds from years of shepherding drunks at Mardi Gras, herded the opposing camps into their own pens. From there they were safe to shout angry slogans and insults at one another..."
Southern discomfort: New Orleans removes its last big Confederate statue | The Economist