I recently and reluctantly declared nuance dead at my other home on the internet. I’m not going to make nuanced arguments in this column even when they’re available. This is the age of the sledgehammer, not the tack hammer. I hope that didn’t sound, well, tacky. It’s a smaller less destructive tool and one of my handier friends suggested the image. Hammers aren’t my thing.
The column title is a play on the 1961 song, The Name Game. It was co-written and recorded by Shirley Ellis. It even has its own lyrics generator site. Here are two relevant examples:
Lee, Lee, bo-bee
Palmer, Palmer, bo-balmer
The Rename Game is being played in earnest here in New Orleans. Mayor Cantrell announced the formation of a commission to make recommendations about renaming streets, squares, monuments, and the like. The targets are mostly slave owners, racists, segregationists, and traitors. The latter is, of course, a synonym for Confederates. The Lost Cause has finally lost, y’all.
The Renaming Commission will be in place for a year and make the following recommendations:
- A list of streets, parks, and places that should be renamed, accompanied by a detailed explanation.
- A proposed list of replacement names for each recommended street, park, or place, accompanied by a detailed explanation.
- A process to facilitate both educating residents and receiving public feedback on the proposed changes.
The time frame is too long, there are already many lists out there. Recently, the Picvocate had an article about Lost Cause related names as well as a swell map. I’ve relied on the latter to make my own list.
I’m omitting the Jefferson Davis Parkway except for the tagline because there’s already a strong consensus that the name of the incompetent Confederate president should be replaced with that of beloved retired Xavier University president Norman Francis. It’s an excellent choice, especially as Incompetent Traitor Parkway passes through the Xavier campus.
Here’s my top ten list including comments as to why the names should be changed and, in some cases, with whom. I prefer that name changes involve someone who was associated with the site, street, or neighborhood.
1. Lee Circle: It was originally Tivoli Circle and was renamed in 1884 for the Competent Traitor who commanded the Confederacy’s Army of Virginia. Lee had no ties to New Orleans and never should have been honored in the first place. The monument’s only purpose was to promote white supremacy. I cheered when the statue came down.
I think a Civil Rights figure should be honored in place of the ultimate Lost Causer. Homer Plessy, the litigant in the Plessy v. Ferguson case comes to mind but there are others who deserve to be honored including Avery Alexander, A.P. Tureaud or even New Orleans native Andrew Young.
2. Robert E. Lee Boulevard: It’s named for the same traitorous Virginian. One suggestion that’s come my way is Allen Toussaint who apparently lived on the street at some point.
3. Jackson Square: I mentioned nuanced arguments at the top of the column because they’re available for the Jackson statue, which was erected to honor his role in the Battle Of New Orleans. The weight of the evidence cuts against General/President Jackson, so I expect the equestrian statue to come down.
There’s an obvious choice to replace the Impeached Insult Comedian’s favorite Oval One: Mahalia Jackson. That way it remains Jackson Square.
4. Gov. Nicholls Street: This has gotten less attention than it deserves. Francis T. Nicholls was a Confederate General, then the “redeemer” Governor of Louisiana who helped sweep away the last vestiges of Reconstruction. He’s gotta go. Renaming the street after a prominent local musician with ties to the Quarter would be appealing: Louis Prima? Danny Barker?
An even more appetizing possibility is Chef Leah Chase since Gov. Nicholls Street runs through her beloved Treme.
5. Palmer Park & Avenue: The site of a popular local arts market is currently named for a fire and brimstone pro-Confederate preacher, Benjamin Palmer. At least he was honest about the cause of the War of the Rebellion: Slavery. His name has gotta go. How about Dr. John Park? Art Neville Park?
6. General Ogden Street: It’s named for a Confederate General who was later the head of the Crescent City White League, a KKK-like group. He’s gotta go.
7. Calhoun Street: Named for Senator/Veep John C, Calhoun who was the original exponent of secession and nullification. This is one even his arch-enemy General/President Jackson would agree with. This street name should be nullified.
8. Beauregard Avenue: P.G.T. Beauregard’s statute was removed from the entrance of City Park in 2017 so it’s time for this street to be renamed. He’s already on the City’s shit list so it’s time to flush him.
9. Polk Street: Named for the so-called Fighting Bishop of Louisiana. Leonidas Polk. He fought for the wrong side and became a Confederate General. That makes him a loser:
Loser, Loser, bo-boser
10. Lusher School: This is up to the school’s board, not the city government. It’s named for Robert Mills Lusher a white supremacist state superintendent of education who emphatically believed that separate was equal. I included this because I have so many friends who either teach at or have kids attending Lusher. I fear their wrath, especially when they’re right.
Lusher, Lusher, bo-busher
Let’s give Dixie a Name Game style sendoff:
Dixie, Dixie, bo-bixie
It’s a hoary cliché that the victors write the history of wars. That was never the case with the War of the Rebellion aka the Civil War aka the War Between The States. The losers wrote the history. It was accepted by the rest of the country because of war fatigue and racism. I’m pleased that those days are gone. Thanks, BLM.
Finally, I had a TFC (This Fucking City) moment because of this Tweet:
I was interested so I texted. The only response was a link to nowhere. I tried contacting them on Twitter and received this terse response:
Holy fake transparency, Batman. It appears that there was no process. The whole thing wrapped up within 20-some hours so unless you spend all day on social media, you were not only out of the loop, you were SOL: Shit Out Of Luck. Apparently, I’m in the mood for acronyms.
How could it be a genuine process without a stated deadline? Additionally, why was this sent from the Mayor’s campaign account?
There’s only one answer to those questions: This Fucking City. TFC all the way. Perhaps we should play the Name Game with the Mayor’s first name:
LaToya, LaToya, bo-baToya
The last word goes to Shirley Ellis: