Charles Marsala – former mayor of Atherton, Ca., failed Senate candidate, high school classmate of Mayor Landrieu – has dedicated himself to promoting a Lost Cause version of the Confederacy, antebellum nostalgia, and bizarre interpretations of local history. As a self-proclaimed historian with no training, Marsala regularly makes basic factual errors, fails to use primary documents, trusts obviously-biased sources, and consistently ignores context in order to construct hagiographies of Lee, Davis, and even the White League.
When pressed on his views, Marsala lapses into racial stereotypes and white resentment, unable to comprehend the removal of his idols. He also has appeared on white supremacists’ podcasts to describe the local monument protests as a Rothschilds-funded Marxist plot.
Marsala’s lack of basic history skills hasn’t stopped him from misquoting Lee out of context (and getting owned by state Sen. JP Morrell for it,) using a source who claims the Civil War was caused by Lincoln’s debt to the Union Pacific railroad, and that believing that slave-owning, Confederacy-leading Davis was one of “the most liberal and progressive men of his era.”
Not surprisingly, he is also one of the few people to defend the Battle of Liberty Place monument. But his complete lack of understanding of Reconstruction has led him to believe that this racist coup was actually about ‘voter suppression’ of whites, ‘confiscation of guns,’ and ‘high municipal debt.’ (He gets this information from a history written in 1955 that calls the White League “heroes” and the 14th Amendment “coerced.” A reminder: the platform of the Crescent City White League called for an “effort to re-establish a white man’s government in the city.”)
More worrisome is Charles’ use of stereotypes and his ventures into alt-right bigotry. Here he is liking a post claiming that African-Americans should be “thankful” that their ancestors were “saved by slavery and not eaten by their kinsmen.” Here he is liking a post that declares New Orleans “a den of anti-white racism.” When a local activist pointed out his defense of white supremacy, Marsala argued that his definition of ‘white supremacy’ is “Buying a Mercedes, Porche, Ferrari, or Royals Royce, etc because you believe Europeans make better cars” [all sic] and then claimed, based on his high school track days, that African-Americans “are superior in speed.”
Put Charles Marsala in front of a camera and there’s more nonsense. During the monument removal, Marsala worked as a roving reporter for the Daily Kenn, a website run by Kenn Gividen. (Gividen ran for office in 2016 as part of the white nationalist American Freedom Party and believes white people are, “in the aggregate,” more intelligent than blacks or Latinos.) After Memphis removed their statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, Marsala proceeded to agree that monument removal is a form of “white genocide,” and entertained the idea that if we “really cared” about racism we should take down mosques. Charles then took the opportunity to describe the May 1st fracas in New Orleans using a common anti-Semitic conspiracy theory:
There was a huge banner…of the antifa crowd that had the Rothschild family crest on it. And when we started researching that, the Rothschild family funded Karl Marx so i have to argue right now that I believe a lot of what we’re seeing right now is part of this Marxism theory, you mentioned earlier about cultural genocide…
In March 2017, Marsala appeared on ‘Coffee with Kevin.’ In a brisk interview, he argued, based on the nuisance ordinance, against putting the statues back up and demonstrated a baffling view of segregation era politics.
[When asked about the re-contextualizing the statues off their pedestals in parks] “Take em Down Nola or any group that opposed those monuments should sue the city and say, “You’ve declared it a nuisance – it’s a nuisance, period…it’s a nuisance if it’s above twenty feet in the air but it’s not a nuisance at two feet?…” If Lee is a nuisance, he’s a nuisance. If Beauregard’s a nuisance, he’s a nuisance.”
“That era [Jim Crow] which ends with Mayor Morrison is an era where politicians thought they actually needed to be segregationists to win. And [Mayor] Walmsley in 1930 kinda does that – [Mayor] Shakspeare in 1890s does that – so you see the politicians but if you look at the people who donated the money, especially the Beauregard, they were the average citizens.”
If only Wallace, Maddox, and Barnett had known they didn’t need to be segregationists we could have solved this kerfuffle sooner. Thanks, Charles!