Alabama’s Republican governor has effectively safeguarded the state’s Confederate monuments from removal amid a recent purge of Civil War relics within neighboring states.
Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 on Wednesday, putting in place measures to protect decades-old statues, monuments and other tributes from Decatur to Dothan.
Officially the legislation prohibits the “relocation, removal, alteration, renaming or other disturbance of any architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street or monument located on public property which has been in place for 40 or more years.”
The law’s Republican supporters say the legislation is meant to protect all monuments with historical significants, but critics claim the effort is intended to assure the state’s Confederate monuments are left alone as opponent rally for their removal.
“Contrary to what its detractors say, the Memorial Preservation Act is intended to preserve all of Alabama’s history ― the good and the bad ― so our children and grandchildren can learn from the past to create a better future,” the bill’s main backer, Republican State Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa, said in a statement Wednesday.
“You say we are protecting history,” Democratic State Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma said of the bill’s supporters. “We are not protecting history. We are protecting monuments that represent oppression to a large part of the people in the state of Alabama,” he said previously.
Efforts to remove or dismantle Confederate memorials have succeeded in Virginia and Louisiana as of late, and last week New Orleans tore down its fourth such monument in a matter of weeks – a Civil War-era monument of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause, they were not patriots.” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, said last week. “These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy.”
Mr. Allen, the Alabama bill’s lead sponsor, previously accused New Orleans of giving in to “a wave of political correctness.”
“Where does it end? Are all parts of American history subject to purging, until every Ivy League professor is satisfied and the American story has been re-written as nothing but a complete fraud and a betrayal of our founding values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?” he asked in a statement this month.
In Georgia, meanwhile, the operators of a Civil War museum near Atlanta said they were closing up shop this week after a county commissioner allegedly sought the removal of its Confederate memorabilia.
“Confederate flags were on this hallowed ground, as were the Union flags. To remove either of them would be a dishonor,” the Board of Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield, Inc. said Tuesday.