May 15, 2017 - By Gregory Peele, Treasurer
Last Friday, our Vice-Chair Pedro Luis Geliga published a statement - Keep the Confederate Statue in Lake Eola - explaining our position. Pedro provided a historical perspective by analogy to Spanish Empire monuments in Puerto Rico. He illustrated why it is important to retain our imperfect history and heritage to inconveniently confront people where it is instead of being "banished to a forgotten safe space or, worse, destroyed." I, along with the other Executive Committee members of the Libertarian Party of Orange County, stand behind Pedro's statement.
Furthermore, as a 5th generation native Floridian myself with ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War out of Holmes County, I'm well aware that the real history of the American Civil War is far messier and far more complicated than the children's story we learn in elementary school. It doesn't fit cleanly into anyone's narrative. There were atrocities on both sides, deception on both sides, and immense valor on both sides. Americans fought and killed Americans over propaganda told by their supposed leaders. Many felt they were defending their homes, their country, or their Constitution. Quite a few had little choice in the matter. But that's a story for a different day.
One intriguing question I saw raised on our position, however, was to ask: but wait, isn't the Libertarian position to oppose public property? Shouldn't we be against taxpayer funds used for any monument, no matter how educational? Why would we then be in favor of keeping this monument? How is this consistent with Libertarian principles? This is actually a very good question - the Libertarian Party is the Party of Principle, after all, not of public coercion like the other two. Certainly, if the proposition in front of us was to use public funds to build a new statue, we would absolutely oppose that. If the proposition was to acquire new public land for the city to use for such a statue, we would absolutely oppose that. However, none of this is true.
The statue was voluntarily donated to the city as a gift by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1911. It was moved to its current location at Lake Eola in 1917, allegedly due to becoming a traffic hazard in its original location. Lake Eola Park itself was voluntarily donated to the City of Orlando by Jacob and Fanny Summerlin in 1884 under terms of a legal agreement. While we can speculate what might be ideal in a Libertarian utopia, these are the current facts on the ground. Leaving the statue where it is takes no additional effort or expense, and provides the historical benefits our Vice-Chair discussed. On the other hand, removing it would require either an expenditure of taxpayer funds or (far less likely) a voluntary collection of private funds. And possibly would require dealing with some objections from the Summerlin family due to the reversion clause in the Lake Eola Park deed.
Of course, if the statue were on private property, perhaps under care of a historical preservation society or some other kind of patron, the question of removing it would be meaningless in a public context. The Libertarian Party of Orange County certainly wouldn't mind seeing the City of Orlando spin off public property back to private ownership and maintenance. If that's what the proponents of removing this statue from public land want to advocate, let's have that discussion. Or perhaps, if the issue is insufficient historical context, let's discuss voluntary fundraising to add monuments to show that missing context. Let's add to the richness of our picture of history, not erase it... through voluntary action, of course.
May 12, 2017 - By Pedro Luis Geliga, Vice-Chair
Orlando Rising Report - http://orlando-rising.com/confederate-statue-brings-more-controversy-to-lake-eola-park
Several news sources have reported on an effort, led by a small group of Orlando residents, to request the removal of the 100-year old Confederate soldier statue at Lake Eola Park. Mr. David Porter, a blogger and former Orlando Sentinel columnist, said he plans to request the removal of the statue at the upcoming May 15, 2017 City Commission meeting, on the premise that the statue is a symbol of white supremacy and oppression that does not belong in an inclusive Orlando.
I am writing as the Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of Orange County to share our Executive Committee's resolution that this statue stand where it is as a visible reminder of Florida's complex history and heritage. This history must not be banished to an ignored safe space or, worse, destroyed. It should also go without saying that, as Libertarians, we especially oppose the use of any tax dollars to remove or destroy this gift to the city.
My position may initially seem strange given my Puerto Rican heritage as a descendant of slaves. The Spaniards in Puerto Rico oppressed the native Taino Indians, the African slaves, and the first Jibaros – the "mix of all three." Two of my great-great-grandfathers were slaves under the Spanish crown on sugar plantations in Puerto Rico. Across the Spanish Empire, this oppression lasted even longer than in the United States – slavery was not abolished until 1873. And, as in the United States, it was not roses and sunshine for the newly freed slaves after that.
Do we then remove and sanitize the Spanish monuments in Puerto Rico, Florida, and elsewhere in the former Spanish Empire? Do we pretend that this history never existed? Of course not! That would be absurd. As in Puerto Rico, most Floridians embrace their heritage as a former subject of the Spanish crown. I equate the Confederate monuments to these Spanish statues and memorials. They are here to remind us of that part of our history - of the good, the bad, and the ugly. And to remind us of how far we've come in our pursuit of individual liberty for all. My own heritage is exactly why I advocate we must keep this history visible to confront us and challenge us.
Florida's role in the American Civil War is complex. While Florida seceded to join the Confederate States of America, it also reflected significant Union sympathies – for example, Key West never left Union control. Many Floridian Confederate soldiers were conscripted by force, most believing they were defending their homeland from an invasion of a tyrannical government out of control. The moral issues of the wider cause – of the evil of slavery across the country, and of the flagrant constitutional violations in the Union – overshadow but don't remove the valor that American soldiers showed on both sides of the war.
Those who remain unaware of our history are doomed to repeat it. This memorial, and others like it, must stand to serve as a reminder of the dark period of time in which too many Americans fought and killed each other over a serious constitutional crisis. Florida's role in the Confederacy is an inextricable part of our history and heritage. We must learn from that history, not run from it. Keep the statue where it is to serve as one of these learning tools for future generations.
March 15, 2017 - By Greg Peele, Treasurer
On March 15th, the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Orange County, Florida voted to join our brothers and sisters in the Libertarian Party of Miami
-Dade County, the Libertarian Party of Florida Chair, and many other Libertarian organizations around the world in officially condemning the communist dictatorship of Cuba over the unjustified political imprisonment of two libertarian dissidents from the Mises Institute and all too many others. We stand ready to help our colleagues who fight for free markets and free people in Cuba and beyond.
The imprisonment of Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velazquez Visea due to their activism in spreading the "dangerous" idea of free markets and limited government in Cuba is sadly not unusual there. We are inspired by their courage fighting for freedom in a very unfree land and look forward to the day when Cubans can freely speak their mind and freely choose how to live.
We also use this as a moment to recognize that, while it may not always be as harsh as the Cuban gulag, there are political prisoners in many countries, including our very own Land of the "Free." Even here in Orlando, our very own Mark Schmidter has been imprisoned twice for the crime of informing jurors of their constitutional rights outside the Orange County Courthouse. In Michigan, two students were recently imprisoned for the crime of handing out pocket Constitutions on campus. It's not just a problem overseas.
April 17, 2017 - By Gregory Peele, Treasurer
Starting in May, we have changed the regularly scheduled social meeting to consistently be at Orlando Brewing on the first Tuesday of the month. We'd like to give a particular thanks to this wonderful venue and to John Cheek for welcoming us each month.
We would like to host additional socials at other locations around the Metro Orlando area based on interest. Want to start a Libertarian meetup group in your local city or neighborhood? Let us know!
March 11, 2017 - By Gregory Peele, Treasurer
We were honored to support and attend an exciting regional conference hosted by the Libertarian Park of Polk County with extensive support from the Libertarian Party of Pinellas County. Lots of folks came from all over the state to listen, mingle, and work together to move the party forward. Of particular note is Randy Wiseman formally announcing his intent to run for Florida Governor as a Libertarian, which was picked up by the local TV news.
We also had quite the array of influential Libertarian guest speakers, including:
- Thomas L. Knapp - pundit, activist, and 5-time LP candidate for office
- James M. Ray - activist and former LP candidate for office providing a view of the party history
- Marc Tancer - LPF Convention Committee Chair and current Director At-Large 3
- Alison Foxall - LPF Communications Committee Chair and incumbent Director At-Large 1 seeking reelection
- John Thompson - LPF Candidates Committee Chair
- Greg Peele - LP Orange Treasurer and candidate for LPF Director At-Large 3
- James Chipman - LPF Region 5 Representative and candidate for LPF Vice-Chair
- Omar Recuero - LP Broward Vice-Chair and incumbent LPF Vice-Chair seeking reelection
- Joseph Wendt - LPF Convention Committee Vice-Chair and candidate for LPF Vice-Chair
- Char-Lez Braden - LP Manatee Treasurer and incumbent LPF Chair seeking reelection
- Marcos Miralles - LP Miami-Dade Vice-Chair and candidate for LPF Chair
And, of course, lots of exciting side discussions and social mingling. Look forward to the results from the Libertarian Beard Contest from this event soon - our money is on our own Treasurer Greg Peele, but maybe there will be an upset?
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