Mar 18, 2018, 1:28 PM ET

US in 'dark moment' with a lot of 'angst in the country,' says New Orleans mayor who removed Confederate monuments

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A mayor who drew headlines for a speech he gave about his order to remove Confederate monuments said the U.S. is in "a dark moment," with many people gripped by angst.

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Mitch Landrieu, the Democratic mayor of New Orleans, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday that many Americans "feel alienated."

"In this moment that we have a dark moment in the country, it's obvious that a lot of people feel alienated," said Landrieu, who has a new book coming out, "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History.”

PHOTO: P.G.T. Beauregard statue in New Orleans is pictured in this April 24, 2017 file photo.Ben Depp/Reuters, FILE
P.G.T. Beauregard statue in New Orleans is pictured in this April 24, 2017 file photo.

"White people in rural America feel alienated. African-Americans in urban areas feel alienated," the mayor said. "People just feel [distant] from each other."

Landrieu continued, "I think the bigger point is how to find common ground. And that's true whether you're sitting in the White House or whether you're sitting in the statehouse, whether you're the mayor, whether you're the head of a community organization, I think you feel that angst in the country right now."

Stephanopoulos asked Landrieu about a passage in his book, a copy of which was provided to ABC News in advance, that compares the rise of former KKK leader David Duke in the late 1980s to the election of President Donald Trump. Duke is a former Republican Louisiana state representative who was later a candidate in U.S. presidential primaries.

PHOTO: The Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, David Duke speaks at press conference in Los Angeles, Dec. 7, 1970.Bettmann Archive/Getty Images, FILE
The Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, David Duke speaks at press conference in Los Angeles, Dec. 7, 1970.

"When I look back today, David Duke's demagoguery stands like a dress rehearsal for the rise of Donald Trump,” Landrieu wrote. “While he may not have worn a hood or swastika, Trump's rhetoric and actions during his 2016 presidential campaign were shockingly similar to the tactics deployed by Duke.”

Landrieu said to Stephanopoulos, “I made an observation, not an accusation, that what happened in Louisiana when David Duke was there is fairly similar to what we're seeing ... where people are speaking in coded language. They are beginning to judge people based on race, creed, color, sexual orientation and not on their behavior.”

PHOTO: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks during a news conference as Tropical Storm Nate approaches the U.S. Gulf Coast in New Orleans, Oct. 6, 2017.Jonathan Bachman/Reuters, FILE
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu speaks during a news conference as Tropical Storm Nate approaches the U.S. Gulf Coast in New Orleans, Oct. 6, 2017.

Landrieu drew national attention for speech last May about why New Orleans was removing its Confederate monuments, in which he said, "The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered."

He told Stephanopoulos on Sunday that differences of opinion over Confederate statues are fine. "We can argue all the to conservative or liberal," he said.

PHOTO: Members of white nationalists are met by a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. Joshua Roberts/Reuters, FILE
Members of white nationalists are met by a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017.

But, he added, "One thing that we cannot countenance in this country is the rise of white supremacy. It needs to be called out; it needs to be focused on. Slavery was our original sin. The Civil War was fought about that."

Landrieu said he believes Americans can find unity, but should not wait for a president to bring the country together.

“We shouldn't just wait on whoever the president is to fix our problems,” Landrieu said. “If 320 million Americans did something really kind for each other every day and just kind of pushed back on all the nastiness we could move the country fairly quickly.”

PHOTO: New Orleans police officers stand guard at the Jefferson Davis monument, May 4, 2017 in New Orleans.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, FILE
New Orleans police officers stand guard at the Jefferson Davis monument, May 4, 2017 in New Orleans.

Landrieu has been marked as a possible dark-horse candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, though he brushed aside such a notion on Sunday.

“I'm not thinking about that,” he said. “Other people have talked about that. Honestly, it's very flattering to think about that, but I don't really see that happening as it relates to me.”

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  • Randall Torres

    Mitch Landrieu's state-sponsored vandalism has turned some of our beloved city's most iconic and artistic public spaces into embarrassing eyesores - all with the goal of drawing media attention and raising his national political profile. Landrieu refused to hold a referendum on the removal of Confederate statues because he KNEW that the great majority of New Orleans citizens OPPOSED that action. He invented the despicable lie that our beautiful statues were "monuments to white supremacy" in order to "justify" their destruction. Landrieu will go down in local history as "the Vandal of New Orleans".

  • Tony Radcliffe-Hung

    One only has to look at WHEN the vast majority of civil war monuments went up. It was from the end of the 1800s to the early 1900s. Which means they went up during Jim Crow years and that means they went up not as memorials to a war but as warning to dark skinned folks to stay in their place. In other words, they were racial motivated from the start.

    That's no so hard to understand looking at the facts of it. So the taking down of these monuments is only the making right of a long-standing wrong that was perpetrated around 1900.

    That's the truth of the matter.

  • PM

    Great hindsight! After he had the monuments torn down he is rethinking his willful destruction of national monuments regarding a war that killed more Americans than any subsequent war. The vast majority of Southern boys didn't volunteer to fight for the Confederacy and many refused to fight and left the area for parts unknown. Moreover, many young men didn't want to fight and to prevent the military from taking them, they knocked their two front teeth out because the military required that men have the teeth to pull the string on the powder bag tight after reloading.

  • pa_longrifle

    Mitch represents the party, and its symbols, that seceded from the Union, fired on Fort Sumter, appointed the Generals whose statues he removed, designed the flag that he professes to hate, lost the war and immediately fought reconstruction and civil rights. Not one historian will deny that that party is the Democrat party. You are either against all of the symbols of the Confederacy, or go ahead and admit you are picking and choosing among them with your hypocrisy guiding you.

  • Jorge Arroyo

    what a load of recycled hay!

  • David F Lanphere

    I guess I'm just confused? First the democrats erect all the Confederate hero statues, and then they decide to tear them down again, as a "gesture"(?) The democrats have been preaching hate and racism for 200 years, and now they want us to believe they are all about "Peace and Love". If anyone is confused, they need to pick up a book and read the actual history of these hateful eugenicist, God haters, and now lately "race baiters". America is tired of you, we want everyone to be treated the same way, as the Constitution says we should all be treated. America is an Idea,not any one group of people. We are revolutionary because we recognized that we are nothing without God, and no king or queen, can come close to God's Law. Why is our country in trouble, we turned away from God and his Truth. We are a ship without a Captain to guide it in the right direction. We elected Mr. Trump just because we knew he would stir the pot, rip the scab off of our wounded Washington DC, and clean out the "puss" in our wound. Hillary would have only made the wound fester even more, and her friends in the bureaucracy are the super infection that lingers! McCabe is only the tip of the iceberg. And Landrieu is just another infection!

  • Carl Nemo **==

    Some posters are referring to the "Blue Wave" this November. As an Independent I agree. So too the Democratic party is in need of dynamic, younger men and women to move into the party apparatus. Conor Lamb's win in Pennsylvania is an example. Pelosi, Feinstein, Schumer et. al's need to hand the reins over to 'young lions' with a vision for America's future. Donald Trump is in the White House because the Dems forced a totally unelectable candidate upon the American people; I.E, Hillary 'it's my turn' Clinton, a patently corrupt candidate and so too a pathological liar like Trump. Both parties need a massive 'enema' in terms of cleansing out the old and to bring in the new, not radical left crazies, but centrists with grounded principles. Yes, there are conservative Democrats. Many either didn't vote or cast theirs for Trump. Clinton was an abomination.

  • Carl Nemo **==

    Mitch Landrieu another corrupt, 'Loosiana' crimpol. He's a disgrace for
    trying to be a historical revisionist by having the monuments torn down.
    More lives were lost in the Civil War than WWII with an estimated
    650,000 casualties on both sides. The monuments are not aggrandizing the
    war, but simply commemorating individuals and the soldiers who lost
    their lives in a lost cause. It wasn't about slavery either, but "King
    Cotton" vs. the industrialized North in terms of their regional GDP's which equated to political power and $$. The anti slavery movement although in force had little to do with triggering and maintaining the war.

  • Robert Yelvington

    Wrong to whitewash history, or to cover up, rewrite, or deny it...but the latter is worse. The actions to eradicate flags, monuments and other legacy of Southern history automatically makes second-class citizens of millions of Southerners who may not be racist, or have any connection to or sympathy for white supremacy or slavery. And there are undercurrents of extremism working, and propagandizing with the objective of equating the Confederacy, and by extension the wider manifestations of Southern pride and culture with the Third Reich,

  • Ray Manor

    Both groups dwell on the past, but only one is told they have no right to be angry. Do with that what you will.

  • Troy

    Funny that the ABC media writes about the very problem that they have personally created. ABC would not have any standards at all if it were not for their triple standards

  • James Brown

    There is some irony in talking about people being alienated and then preaching hatred for white people within the same paragraph. Unintended irony. I call on all ethical people to reject the race dividing actions and rhetoric of the Democrat party and refuse to vote for them. In fact, all ethical people have already made that choice.

  • glg5151

    Thank you for your role in making everyone feel alienated. You should be proud!

  • David Byrd

    Landrieu is like all elites he knows what is best that is why with no debate he took it upon his self to do as democrats have always done and that is to try and rewrite their vile history he is no more thN a ten cent dictator

  • allen blaine

    All of the hate started with Obama. BLM, ANTIFA, remember Ferguson? How about the 5 murdered Dallas police officers? Trump was not even running at that time. Obama had leaders of both these hate groups at the WH fro personal visits. Another thing, the history of the South has been twisted. The civil war was fought over state's rights. The emancipation proclamation was toward the end of the war, not the start of it. In Louisiana alone, there were over 900 Black slave owners. No telling how many Blacks owned slaves. The Southern Democrats were the ones that had slaves, the KKK was founded by Democrats and to this day is still occupied by Democrats. LBJ was forced by a Republican majority congress to sign the civil rights act, LBJ wanted no part of it. Today all of the hate and bigotry is coming from the Hitler lefties.