In 2017, the Alabama Legislature passed the Monument Preservation Act, which at the time was considered to be a valuable political tool for Republicans. In 2018, Gov. Kay Ivey touted the legislation in a campaign ad for her election.
Two years later, as the removal of Confederate monuments has become a requirement of Black Lives Matters activists and the sort, the Monument Preservation Act has been a hurdle, particularly for city and county governments all around the state.
During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) criticized the law and lamented not being more outspoken against it at the time of its passage.
“I’ve been a Republican a long time,” Ball said. “I was part of trying to get Alabama to go Republican. I generally fall on the conservative side on a lot of things. But I’m not a knee-jerk conservative by no stretch of the imagination. I hope my faith takes precedence over my politics. And I know the difference between a political issue and a policy issue and a moral issue. This particular issue has elements of all of it. The politics of it is ‘us versus them.'”
He continued, “As a matter of policy on this Republican side – one of the general tenets that I like is the level of government – those closer it is to the people, that is the lower the level of government, the more decisions that are made, the more likely that government will govern according to the desires of the governed – if that makes sense.”
“When this came up – I almost always vote with the caucus,” Ball added. “I rarely, seldom on matters of policy – I was elected as a Republican. But on this, I knew I had problems with this bill. I had problems with this bill because we created a state entity to micromanage what these cities and counties, and other entities – and I guess it might even apply to private folks. It was a huge expansion on state authority that we didn’t have any business imposing state authority on”
Ball acknowledged it as a “political game” but also deemed it a “huge overstep.”
“I just think it was a huge overstep,” he said. “And when this bill came up, I wanted to vote with the caucus, and quite frankly, I should have been speaking out in the caucus meeting and speaking out to my colleagues. But as a general rule, when these political games start being played, I just kind of back out, let them play out, and stay out the way.”
The Madison County Republican likened the reverence for monuments to idolatry and urged his colleagues to consider repeal or modification to the law.
“[H]aving this kind of reverence toward these previous heroes – I mean, it was just creeping pretty close to idolatry for me as a person of moral conscience,” he stated. “I’m not against any commemorating, but it was just to the point where these things became sacred to folks, and they shouldn’t be sacred to folks. That’s idolatry to me. What’s happens is a lot of times our idols turn into these political idols that our team gathers around. And the other team has them that they gather around. And what happens is that is what creates a lot of these conflicts that stand in our way, that keep us working together and being who we should be.”
“This bill was sticking the thumb in the eye of the other side, saying, ‘No, you’re not going to be able to take down our idols and put your idols up,'” Ball added. “For me – I see Biblical parallels in what’s going on. Here’s the only way to diffuse this: People on all sides have got to get down there in that legislature, and they’ve got to humble themselves, and they have to look at themselves objectively – not from in the context of my guys versus your guys but looking at the bigger picture of what this really is. And if people will humble themselves – we need to repeal this law or at least modify it where it is not such an intrusion.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.