WHEN MOVING THE CONFEDERATE MONUMENT ISSUE CAME UP, MAYOR HOLT'S STRONG HAND TOOK THE REINS
Florence Mayor Steve Holt recognizes the Confederate Monument located in front of the Lauderdale County Courthouse is an emotional issue to many on all sides. He realizes not just this monument but monuments throughout the United States have become a flash point for debates over their symbolism, including in Florence, Alabama.
Some will say monuments carry with them the question of how the past shapes the present and future. Rather than a problem, they should be a part of America's history. They are an opportunity for our youth and citizens to lead into conversations concerning some of the darkest parts of our past in a simple, honest way, rather than whitewash it.
Those conversations bring to the forefront attitudes of the population then and how those attitudes gave birth to injustice not only with blacks, but Irish, Chinese and others. Some say we cannot judge historical figures according to contemporary and political correctness codes of today.
The other side has the viewpoint that monuments are giving honor and recognition to those who caused and supported a system that created so much pain to many and need to be removed. Understanding history requires us to make judgments about the past and we must do that to understand our history and correct those events, so they do not occur in any future version of our nation. This is nothing new, as all cultures and generations have reviewed their past and made judgments of their forefathers based on their ideology of their time.
This writer believes both sides have merit and need to be discussed to the point where neither side is expected to get everything it wants, but in the interest of fairness to each's point of view give and take can be achieved. However, it is also recognized that those debates must take place within the confines of the present existing laws.
When this monument issue was brought before the Florence City Council, Mayor Steve Holt was perceived by some to be a weak and an appeasement type mayor as seen in some Democratic cities. These individuals thought he should not even be discussing the removal of the Confederate monument with anyone, especially a group called PSS or known as the Project Say Something.
The strength of a leader is tested when they must go against the very constituents who voted for them in the past. A true leader will do what is right, not what is politically correct for his own self- interest. We saw other leaders melt before the pressure of special groups and failing this test of true strong leaders, but Mayor Holt took the position he was mayor for all, not just a select group of citizens.
Mayor Steve Holt regardless of what others thought, knew it was his duty as mayor to sit down with the ones who wanted the monument moved.
Mayor Holt went into that meeting with an open mind and the desire to listen to what their thoughts were and their rationale to have the monument moved to another location. One of those locations was in an area of the Florence Cemetery where Confederate soldiers are interred.
Mayor Steve Holt has noted regardless of his, any political opponent's, or anyone’s personal belief regarding the Confederate monument that dedicated in 1903, the State of Alabama law is quite clear as to what can and can’t be done with monuments that have been in place for 40 years or more.
The first thing he and the city council discovered was they really had no authority over the monument and the decision to move the monument came under the Lauderdale County Commission.
When they determined this, it brought up another legal issue, called Adverse Possession. Adverse possession in Alabama is controlled partly by statute (laws passed by the state legislature), but also by the state courts. Possession must be actual exercise of continuous control over the property for the period set by state statute (which is generally ten years in Alabama). This law completely removed the monument's disposition from the hands of the city and placed it totally in the realm of the Lauderdale County Commission, which then voted not to move the monument for any reason.
The mayor has every obligation to do what he can legally for the citizens of Florence, and he is very aware of that responsibility. He is also aware that he has the responsibility to protect the city from any legal or financial liability that could result from actions taken either by the city council or himself.
Meanwhile as the mayor was looking into the legalities of who owned the monument, apparently a decision was made by Project Say Something that just hanging around the monument was not getting the attention the group wanted.
The Pen-N-Sword has not been able to confirm this, but a source who is supposedly familiar with the inside workings of the group, stated that University of North Alabama English Professor Katie Owens and her husband Brian Murphy have been quietly telling a few within the group that it was they who were the masterminds (real brains) and founders of the group...that Camille Bennett was given the front in your face spot because she would be more acceptable to many whom they sought to recruit; however, she was controlled by them as to what direction the group would be going.
It is believed this is when the group decided they needed to move their protests into the restaurant area of downtown. So, on select nights they would move as a group into a specific section of the city, doing everything they could to disrupt the peace of the diners in the area.
This may seem just like a bunch of unorganized kids to you, but I assure you that is not the case. This is a well used Marxist technique that has been used for decades to change cultures and even earlier to establish a way of life in territories captured by Warlords and Kings.
It is called the Hegelian Dialectic. Simply put, it is a way of creating a problem, watching for the reaction, and then offering a solution to the problem which the political sect initiated to begin with.
More details in a future article on this technique...