Posts Tagged ‘Anne Butler’

My furniture doesn’t think. Does yours?

Can furniture be racist?  Apparently, along with anything else covert right-wing social media trolls gleefully use to PROMOTE racism, national division and the slaughter of U.S. democracy.  If you live anywhere near the Mason-Dixon Line, you’d better hide great-grandma’s old rocker!  Because if it was ever anywhere near a slave-run plantation (which it and everything else would have been in not only the South but also in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland), that rocker is troll-prey.

Anne Butler

My friend Anne Butler lives in the 210-yr-old main house of a Louisiana plantation in St. Francisville, Butler-Greenwood, belonging to her family since the 1700’s and on the National Register of Historic Places.  Six cottages on the expansive grounds are B&Bs, and I was Anne’s guest there countless times while visiting my friend Doug in the nearby prison at Angola.  This gorgeous, fascinating place is the setting for a serialized short story, The Hollering Tree, I wrote for the Lands’ End catalogue, and for An Unremembered Grave, a novel I loved writing because, well, it has a vampire. Butler-Greenwood is too much a part of my history to remain silent, but what has happened in regard to it extends far beyond a little village in Louisiana.

The Reconstructed and Now-Forbidden Parlor at NOMA

Until recently, Anne maintained areas of the main house as a museum, including the original Victorian formal parlor with its 12-piece set of (Connecticut-made) rosewood furniture in its original upholstery, floor-to-ceiling pier mirrors and Meeks étagère. That parlor, scrupulously recreated down to walls and windows, was transported in 2013 to the New Orleans Museum of Art.  Except even if you’re really into Victoriana, you won’t be able to see it.  Why?  Because it’s boarded up now, forbidden, anathema to seeming “social justice” types who advocate burning history to the ground.

So who are these people who manage to hate pier mirrors and a marble-topped table for their proximity to a plantation?  My guess is that they’re NOT righteously angry African Americans and white liberals, although they may account for a few.  My guess is that these extremist social media attacks that are taking place all over the country are planned and carried out by highly-skilled professional trolls paid by right-wing organizations to amplify the social division that has torn this country apart.

Don’t fall for it!

Throwing statues in rivers, boarding up museum exhibits and annihilating intellectual platforms like the recent debacle laying waste to Poetry Magazine do absolutely nothing to change the lives of Black, Brown, Native and other disenfranchised Americans.  What these tactics do is obscure what’s really going on – an out-of-control pandemic that’s killing Black, Brown and Native folks in brutal numbers, a desperate national financial crisis caused by federal incompetence, massive voter suppression, open corruption at the highest levels of both government and social organizations, all on a planet quickly dying under the corporate knife. And more subtly, these tactics make rational, thoughtful people recoil in discomfort because tactics like anthropomorphizing furniture are ridiculous.  They drive a wedge between rational, thoughtful people and the very issues the trolls only pretend to advocate.  The method is calculated and effective.

Just don’t fall for it.  Call it out for what it is – politically-engineered melodrama designed to create an “Oh, for crying out loud, this has gone way too far!” attitude that can obscure real calls for social change.  Instead, support an end to redlining, gerrymandering and voter suppression as you work for vastly expanded educational and health care resources for “underserved” Americans.

And drop a courteous note to the New Orleans Museum of Art saying, “Please reopen The Greenwood Parlor exhibit, a treasure of Victoriana no item in which was in any way responsible for slavery because it’s just furniture!”  Here’s the link – https://noma.org/

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