— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) August 21, 2018
Once again, in a less news-intensive week, the protest where a notorious monument to treason in the defense of slavery was pulled down would’ve been a leading headline and the excuse for much punditorial thumb-sucking…
I haven't been following Silent Sam events in detail, but I would bet cash money that the prevailing feeling at higher administrative levels in UNC is not anger or regret at loss of heritage, but blessed relief that protestors neatly resolved the school's self-inflicted crisis.
— Kieran Healy (@kjhealy) August 21, 2018
But of course the WUT ABOUT MAH HURTIGE?!? crew — and we’re not talking UNC students, we’re talking Repub opportunists and the revanchists who support them — will not let their bronze idol go unavenged. Per the local News & Observer:
The UNC Board of Governors will hire an outside firm to look into university and police actions at the protest where Silent Sam was toppled this week, the board’s leader said Wednesday.
At least one board member, former Republican state Sen. Thom Goolsby, posted a YouTube video with his questions about the incident, including what’s being done to repair and reinstall the statue.
Harry Smith, who became chairman last month, said Wednesday in an interview he wants an independent group to study the facts of what happened, or what didn’t happen, during Monday’s rally. A group within a crowd of about 250 protesters used rope to pull down the controversial Silent Sam Confederate monument Monday night, more than two hours into a rally…
In a Facebook post Wednesday, state Rep. Bob Steinburg said he was outraged protestors got the opportunity to tear down Silent Sam.
“It is absolutely inexcusable and those responsible, including security who stood by and let it happen, need to be prosecuted, no excuses!!” Steinburg posted.
In a telephone interview, Steinburg said he was appalled at the reaction of law enforcement officers — standing back, “even smiling” as protesters took down Silent Sam.
“Whoever was on that security detail that allowed this to take place and are seen in this video and can be identified … need to lose their jobs,” Steinburg said.
He added that he’s heard from many constituents, even Democrats, who want to keep the monuments in place…
On Wednesday, Goolsby, the UNC Board of Governors member, tweeted: “NC State law is CLEAR. Silent Sam MUST be reinstalled,” along with a link to the 2015 state law governing historic monuments. The law says, in part: “An object of remembrance that is temporarily relocated shall be returned to its original location within 90 days of completion of the project that required its temporary removal.”
Smith said he went to see the Silent Sam statue Tuesday, which he said was being stored in “a secure location.” He said the statue did not appear to be seriously damaged.
He said the process for deciding the future of the statue is a little unclear. But he expects campus trustees and Folt will consider next steps with the statue, make a recommendation and then the Board of Governors would “have a seat at the table.”…
(Video of the protest at the link.)
The statue's inscription suggests treason's more important than going to school and the 1913 speech dedicating it praised Confederate veterans for coming home after the war to lead lynch mobs and preserve white supremacy.
— zeddy (@Zeddary) August 21, 2018
Silent Sam was erected in 1913, 48 years after the end of the Civil War. For comparison, that’s like if neo-nazis had erected a statue to Hitler in 1993.
— Jacob Remes (@jacremes) August 21, 2018
Frank J. Cirillo had a good, forwardable summary in the Washington Post on “Why ‘Silent Sam’ had to go”. Eugene Scott’s WaPo report is even better:
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) August 22, 2018
… For more than a century, individuals walking across the northernmost part of campus at the country’s first public university often set eyes on Silent Sam, one of the tallest — and most offensive — monuments on campus.
But for most of the 100-plus years that Silent Sam stood on the campus, what people did not see was a memorial honoring the black people enslaved by the university and others who built some of UNC’s oldest buildings. While UNC became America’s first public university in 1789, it was not until 2005 that it dedicated a much smaller, less visible and not nearly as grand statue recognizing the enslaved black people whose blood and sweat built the university.
As I tweeted the news about the destruction of Silent Sam, I was greeted with much pushback. Some people seemed to question the very fact that enslaved black people helped build the university and wanted names of those involved as proof. Others protested the method in which Silent Sam was removed, cautioning against the spread of anarchy and advocating for confidence in the state legislature’s process to remove similar memorials.
Given the elevated profile of white supremacy in these fraught times, fears that the worldview that led to the erection of Silent Sam could become more dominant should outweigh concerns about a student body that is no longer interested in looking up to a memorial that celebrates “the purest strains of the Anglo-Saxon race.”
Based on the Twitter photos and bios of those objecting to my tweet, I’m guessing none of these individuals knows what it is like to be a descendant of black people who were enslaved in North Carolina and to be studying on a campus that repeatedly honored those who supported that very enslavement. I do.
And for me, my main hope is that future Tar Heels who look like me — and who look nothing like me — can complete their college education in an environment that does not include a statue that was dedicated with a KKK supporter recounting how he “horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds.”…
For those most concerned about honoring Southern culture, there has to be a way to do so without continuing to romanticize the dehumanizing abuse of some of the people who have made some of the most significant contributions — and sacrifices — to the South. I am confident that if there is a place that has the ability to do this honorably, it is the University of North Carolina. It is more than past time.