Reader Talk: What to do with Alfred Mouton?

Photo by Allison DeHat

The gist: Monuments and other devotions to the Old South have once again come under fire, and many of them are coming down. Today, marking Juneteenth, demonstrators will rally to demand that a statue of Confederate General Alfred Mouton be moved from its prominent perch in Downtown Lafayette. We asked readers this week to sound off: Is it time for Alfred to go? Here’s what they had to say (some quotations are edited for brevity and clarity): 

Most readers say the statue is a blemish on the community that ought to come down. Of 206 responses, 68% favored removing Mouton, 28% opposed and 4% weren’t sure. 

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you think the statue of Alfred Mouton should be removed from its current Jefferson Street location? . Number of responses: 204 responses.

Their reasoning: Mouton fought for slavery in a traitorous war, and the statue itself is a revision of history. 

It glorifies the Confederacy as a noble cause, as it has been rewritten by white supremacists. The cause of the Confederacy was to preserve slavery under the pretense of states’ rights; it is not a cause that should be celebrated. Lafayette has a rich culture of more appropriate figures to place on a pedestal than a man who fought on the wrong side of history. — Julien Conover 

I can’t understand how anyone who becomes aware of the history of Alfred can still want his image displayed in our town center. — Natalie McElyea 

For the most part, those opposed say removing it is erasing history. Others say that removing the statue won’t change anything, and it’s just another step toward “sanitizing” history. But the overriding theme was the preservation of history in some fashion. 

He’s part of history. We can’t change history, but instead learn from it. — Rhonda 

As Condoleeza Rice so eloquently said this past weekend, we can’t go around and “sanitize” our history. We would have nothing left. We need to learn from our imperfect past, so we will not repeat the same mistakes. How great that we have one famous Cajun military warrior to look up to? Was he perfect, probably not, but his accomplishments were very notable. — Max Hoyt 

A lot of folks want to throw it in the Vermilion. Besides “in a museum” it was the most common suggestion for what to do with the statute if it were moved. Moving it to a museum has a lot of consensus, even among people who oppose removing it. 

How about letting the black community decide what to replace it with? Replacement suggestions varied widely. But a handful of people make a compelling case that replacing the statue must involve input from the black community, who are the most aggrieved by its presence. 

This should be decided by those who seek redress for the emotional trauma of having to endure this atrocity in Lafayette Parish, black residents. It should be their decision on how they choose to have their grievances addressed and repaired. — Skyra Rideaux 

Whether it stays or goes, it needs context. Again, there was some consensus that the statue needs further explanation or more thorough communication of who Mouton was, his participation in the horrors of chattel slavery and about the Lost Cause movement that saw to his veneration. 

A lot of people don’t really know who Alfred Mouton was. Several responders — mostly opposing removal — believe that Alfred Mouton founded Lafayette, which isn’t true. Nor was the statue erected to celebrate the Mouton family’s contributions to Lafayette; it was put there to honor his role in defending white supremacy as a Confederate general. 

About the Author

Christiaan Mader founded The Current in 2018, reviving the brand from a short-lived culture magazine he created for Lafayette publisher INDMedia. An award-winning investigative and culture journalist, Christiaan’s work as a writer and reporter has appeared in The New York Times, Vice, Offbeat, Gambit, and The Advocate.

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