The following is a statement by the Big Easy Magazine Editorial Board on why we decided to remove a previously published piece from our publication. That piece was They Stood Once by our lead content writer, Bill Arceneaux. We had attached a disclaimer to this piece when it was published in order to express that the views espoused in it were not in line with our values. However, upon further reflection, we realized that not only were the views put forth in the piece not in line with our values, they also did not deserve space or attention on our platform. The following statements are the reflections and thoughts of each member of our Editorial Board on the piece and why it needed to be taken down.
Sometimes in life we just don’t get it right, but it’s how we respond when we fall that really tests our character. When we agreed to interview a person on the monuments relocation committee, we mistakenly approached the interview in a compromising way. We felt like this would allow for an open dialogue about how statues of Confederate leaders were erected to instill fear and intimidation in communities and people of color. However, after some reflection and feedback, we have come to realize that by interviewing someone with opposing perspectives on the issue of what these monuments mean, we were essentially giving them a platform to disseminate their message. Our decision was wrong. While our country deserves a dialogue across ideological lines on important policy issues, there are certain viewpoints that do not deserve a platform on an “unapologetically progressive” site.
We want to be clear in our view on this: There is simply no way to separate a Confederate monument from a history of white supremacy. It may not be what some would like to hear, but Robert E. Lee was a treasonous figure in our nation’s history who fought against the notion that all people, regardless of color, deserve equality, justice, liberty and the chance to pursue the American dream. Consider for a moment if your ancestors were slaves and your kin were discriminated against throughout our nation’s history. For these monuments to stand would mean that you would have to routinely be confronted by a towering reminder of the man who led the fight to preserve slavery and therein the idea that an entire race of people be treated as property. Would you feel comfortable? This question is meant to be rhetorical because the answer should be instinctual.
At Big Easy Magazine, we will not under any circumstance, tolerate views that attempt to justify white supremacy (whether directly or indirectly, through commemoration or celebration). Just as the Confederate statues were taken down in our city, we are taking down “They Stood Once” in the same fashion. We will remain true to our name and our cause. We are now and ever will be unapologetically progressive!
Scott Ploof (CEO & Publisher)
In preparing my thoughts on this editorial decision – one that I was not initially involved with – I was in the process of writing a special essay on the film Park Row and the attacks on American free press. This decision to take down my interview, while a tad surprising and even a bit heartbreaking (a lot of work went into it), does speak to the character of Big Easy Magazine in at least one way. When I started with the magazine, I said very specifically that I would NOT, under any circumstances, interview with David Duke. To be vindicated or lifted, in any perceived way, is that man’s goal, and I refuse to give him that chance.
By no means do I feel that Duke is somehow in line directly (he at least supports the pro statues movement) with the monuments relocation committee or the individual I questioned, nor do I feel that the subject of my article was/is a racist. I do, in the time since publishing, feel that the article was compromised by many concessions we made and by being too sensitive and insecure in securing the interview itself – efforts that should’ve been used on being more critical and inquisitive.
I see this as a learning experience for myself and this outlet. To ask more, to ask rightly and to report what is observed and experienced.
We’re still a work in progress, as am I.
Bill Arceneaux (Lead Content Writer/Social Media Chief)
We here at Big Easy Magazine are taking this opportunity to boldly declare ourselves to not only be a publication that is not racist, but one that is anti-racist. We presented an interview in They Stood Once that we had hoped would spark an insightful discussion about monument removal. After weeks of reflection and further thought we have come to the conclusion that in order to stay true to our values; in order to truly remain unapologetically progressive, we must not provide a platform for such views. Even when certain views and arguments do not seem to be directly racist, they can still be so problematic that they do not deserve room on a progressive platform such as ours. The failed ideology of white supremacy is an insidious one. It does not always boldly declare itself. Sometimes the subtle stench of white supremacy lingers in aspects of our history that may seem benign (or even worth celebrating) to some. These parts of our past must be boldly and honestly addressed for what they are. Once addressed and realized, aspects of our history that divide us, like the monuments to Confederate leaders in our city, must be taken down. We have come to realize that in order to stand by this convictions, viewpoints that support such monuments and the failed ideologies behind them must too be taken down from our platform. What defines us the most is not the mistakes that we make, but how we learn from them and do better. We will be more mindful in the future of our stance as an anti-racist publication.
Nolan Storey (Editor in Chief)
Editor’s Note: The contents of this statement will be controversial to some. We welcome your feedback. Please feel free to reach out to us, whether in criticism or support. Thank you.
Scott Ploof – CEO / Publisher – email@example.com
Nolan Storey – Editor in Chief – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Arceneaux – Lead Content Writer – email@example.com