The Good—New Orleans is a very fun town. The French Quarter, the Riverfront, the NFL Experience and the people could not have been better. When Santa Clara hosts a Super Bowl, hopefully in 2016, they could learn a lot from the host committee in New Orleans. These folks do it up right.
The French Quarter was alive, Bourbon Street was full, alcohol flowed freely–but without the normal problems usually associated with gangs of people who over-indulge. New Orleans hired 1,500 extra cops; there was no smell of vomit or urine–though occasionally there was a strong odor of Lysol.
The messes were cleaned up pronto.
A few were taken away, but without fanfare and with little resistance. Cops on horses cleared pathways in the street. People in New Orleans drink openly on the streets; and a good time appeared to be had by all.
The food was excellent, from Cafe DuMonde for beignets, to Cajun Food at Arnaud’s. Though the best food we had was in LaFayette at a place called Prejeans. It boasts the best gumbo in Louisiana and is about an hour outside Baton Rouge, we were served by a very friendly Lester, a 49er fan. The best fried chicken was in the neighborhoods, a place called Willie Mae’s Scotch House.
Finally, the people were very accommodating. Southern hospitality is alive and well. Most impressive was the care and good manners we observed, Southerners are quick with a please and a thank you. Y’all is a familiar refrain to encompass individuals or groups.
In all—a spectacular week.
The Bad—There are a few reasons we live in California. The destruction of Hurricane Katrina is still evident–even inside the Superdome. There is also some places that allowed smoking in restaurants; one guy in Bilioxi lit up a pipe. Such inconsiderate behavior is antithetical to the personal treatment one receives from southern hospitality.
There are also the drivers in the South. At times, three lanes of highway are filled with 18-wheelers. Slow traffic maintains their position in the left lane and nobody has learned how to pass a big rig on the highway. Many of these slow-folks are in monster trucks; environmental education hasn’t quite reached them yet.
Finally, there was the Super Bowl itself. A horrible game by the San Francisco 49ers they still should have won. Bad calls, bad judgment, bad execution, poor lighting; followed by a comeback that, if successful, would have put this team on a par with the Joe Montana led comebacks of yesteryear. All for naught.
The Ravens are the World Champions. Congratulations to them.
The Ugly—Good manners should never be confused with moral virtue. The following will shock the conscience and illuminate the cultural, political and moral divide this nation still faces and is still evident in some parts of the deep South.
In Bilioxi, Mississippi we toured the last home of Jefferson Davis. The home called Beauvoir (pronounced Bev-wah) which sits over-looking the Gulf Coast, is registered national historic site, but it is neither a state nor federal park. It is tended to by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans and was restored and rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.
The preservation of the site, it’s rebuilding and the history associated with Jefferson Davis is not at issue. It is part of this nation and should be seen, toured and understood. But this is where we part ways with the keepers of the property.
Jefferson Davis is the embodiment of a shameful past. He was the Osama Bin Laden of his time; a terrorist, a man who sought to keep people property and led a revolt against his own nation–for which he had previously taken an oath and served as Congressman, Senator and Secretary of War.
His actions cost the lives of millions and though defeated, he never acknowledged the immoral nature of his crimes. Those who are tasked with the preservation of his history are proud and unbowed by his appalling legacy. Not only have they preserved his home; they have rebuilt a “Presidential Library” on the grounds. This brand new building will open in a few weeks and rivals the architecture and grandeur of real Presidential Libraries. It is an obvious attempt to elevate the stature of a person who was not President and whose legacy is shameful blemish on our nation’s history.
The Confederacy never lawfully existed except in the minds of the rebellion. The movie Lincoln makes this point abundantly clear. To set-up a “Presidential” Library is a brazen attempt to honor an immoral traitor to the United States of America and his shameful legacy.
And the people who operate the property, the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, provide a different narrative of this man’s history. There is not a single reference to his known crimes against humanity or the victims of his disdainful legacy exist at the site. Adolph Hitler’s home, Eagles Nest in Bavaria, which is preserved for future generations has a memorial to the millions he is acknowledged to be responsible for killing. Yet at Beauvoir, such an acknowledgement is notably absent.
Confederate flags, long the symbol of bigotry and hate–not unlike the Nazi Swastika–proudly adorn the property. The graveyard of former confederate soldiers, some dying as late as the mid 20th century sport Confederate flags on their graves–not American Flags.
Quotes of honor to the Confederacy abound the property. It is sadly sickening to believe people still want to glorify a man and the illusory nation he sought to lead.
Jefferson Davis is not a man to be honored. He was spared the hangman’s noose and only served two years in prison at Fort Monroe. He lived to be 81 and died in 1889 in New Orleans, on his way home to Beauvoir. He is buried in Richmond, Virginia. His last home was not associated with the war years, as his original property was rightfully seized by the Federal Government.
But nothing was so shocking to our conscience than to see Jefferson Davis memorialized as if he were an actual President of a separate country. He was not. The juxtaposition of the prevailing historical views and those of the Sons of the Confederacy are still at the root of many of the national arguments today.
To build monuments to a man who was traitor, a terrorist and responsible for the darkest period in our nation’s history in the 21st century is unconscionable.
But in Biloxi, Mississipi, there are still people who openly honor a man who brought millions to their graves and who sought to keep millions more shackled. These people continue to champion a person whose philosophy was relegated to the trash-heap of history long ago.
It is a shameful memorial, an affront to his victims and an ugly reminder of what still divides this nation.