The fatal melee in Charlottesville over the weekend, which grew from a Saturday gathering of white supremacists around a threatened statue of Robert E. Lee, has prompted another round of scrutiny of Confederate symbolism in Georgia.
This morning, Stacey Abrams, a Democratic candidate for governor, called for the removal of the giant carving that depicts three Confederate war leaders on the face of state-owned Stone Mountain, saying it “remains a blight on our state and should be removed.”
“The removal of the bas relief of Confederates from Stone Mountain has been a constant debate since the state bought the property in 1958.”
Abram’s history is more than slightly off. In another Twitter message, she writes that the carving on the mountain dates to 1915. It was completed in 1972. But it’s the first time the issue of the carvings has been raised in a statewide political contest.
Elsewhere, as reported by the AJC’s Christian Boone, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will soon make a decision on petitions seeking to re-brand streets such as Confederate Avenue. A change.org petition seeking to change the name of the road in the Grant Park neighborhood had attracted more than 4,000 signatures as of Monday evening.
Then there’s the matter of the “peace monument” in Piedmont Park, which was defaced by “antifa” protesters. The statue celebrates post-Civil War reunification – but its origins in 1911, at the height of the Jim Crow era, are a reminder that African-Americans weren’t a party to that celebration.
And yet it would be wrong to suggest that this re-examination is solely a response to a violent clash at the University of Virginia.
A repaired and restored Cyclorama, the in-the-round mural depicting the Battle of Atlanta, is on the verge of making its debut at the Atlanta History Center – having been moved from its site near Zoo Atlanta.
The mural has unusual history. It was originally commissioned as to mark an important Yankee victory in the war – and might have been used in a U.S. presidential campaign, had the retired Union general who ordered it up not died before the work was finished.
The diorama shifted from hand to hand, drifting southward. The city of Atlanta acquired it in 1898, and the heroic paean to one of Billy Sherman’s generals quickly became something of a shrine to a Confederate victory.
That was “fake news,” Sheffield Hale, CEO of the Atlanta History Center, told the Buckhead Business Association last week – before Charlottesville.
According to BuckheadView, Hale told the business leaders that in the newest iteration of the Cyclorama, “the North will win the battle each and every time.”
The reception was rough at times, but U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson survived a meeting with constituents on the campus of Kennesaw State University:
At one point during Monday’s town hall, facing a biting question about cuts to disability services in the failed GOP health care plan, he showed his cane to the audience and said he recently became disabled. He was invoking the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease that he revealed a few years ago, and some in the crowd groaned.
“I know how lucky I am to live here,” he said, saying that Congress hasn’t cut funding for disability services yet. “And as far as I’m concerned, we’re not going to.”
Isakson and other members of Congress from Georgia will be in Macon this afternoon for the annual Georgia Chamber luncheon. Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia and founder of the “Crystal Ball” political blog, will be the keynote speaker. Charlottesville, no doubt, will be on his mind.
Fox News reports late Monday that President Donald Trump is “seriously considering” a pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people he thought looked like undocumented immigrants. Trump retweeted the report this morning, in apparent confirmation.
The Washington Post reports that, three days after Donald Trump named his campaign foreign policy team in March 2016, one of his new advisers sent an email with this subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership – Including Putin.”
Dunwoody resident Marc Alan Urbach has joined the GOP race for governor. Urbach, who ran for president last year, vows to slash the income tax and “end the corrupt and illegal” Affordable Care Act. He’s an educator and calls himself a self-taught constitutional scholar. Four better-known Republican candidates are already in the contest: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sens. Hunter Hill and Michael Williams. (Bluestein)
The former minority engagement guru of the Georgia GOP had some cutting words on the “support black women” protest that drowned out Stacey Evans, a Democratic candidate for governor, at a NetRoots Nation conference over the weekend.
Evans is white. Her chief Democratic rival, Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, is black.
“I take issue with representational leadership based on race and skin color. That’s a very simplistic and dangerous example of ideological solidarity,” Leo Smith texted us. Smith held his Georgia GOP post until June and is now running for a Buckhead-based state Senate district. “The idea that ‘if it’s black, it won’t crack’ is no more correct than ‘if it’s white, it’s right.'”
He added: “Both ideas are wrong and hurtful to the possibilities of representational leadership based on belief, shared values and capacity to deliver on an uplifting and empowering agenda.”