Silent Sam, the Confederate soldier standing over UNC's McCorkle Place, was in the news last year when local poet C.J. Suitt contrasted it with the squat memorial a few yards away to the anonymous black people who built the campus. We wrote a story about Suitt's poem, which he read at a town forum and later profiled Suitt in The Chapel Hill News, a story that also ran in The News & Observer.
This letter arrived recently from reader Gerald Horne. Read it and tell us what you think. (Post here or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org) Is it time for Silent Sam to go?
GERALD HORNE'S LETTER
Somehow I do not recall the denizens of the Tar Heel state complaining in the Spring of 2003 that Iraq was doing violence to history when the statue of Saddam Hussein was removed and dismantled.
But--demagogically--that is precisely the argument we hear when the point is bruited about removing that monument to the defense of slavery that scars the otherwise lovely UNC campus: I refer to the statue, known as 'Silent Sam', which was built to commemorate the so-called Confederate States of America and their abortive secession from the U.S. in 1861 in the name of enslaving Africans.
Of course, nowadays we are told with a straight face that secession was about "states' rights" not slavery--which barely passes the giggle test. Yet, assuming that argument is so, then what is to stop those now assuming power in Washington today from launching another armed secession if their dreams of "states' rights" somehow do not come to fruition?
That is the point: 'Silent Sam' is a sentinel and warning that armed right-wing revolt forevermore remains an option--that such a monument to violence and racism can co-exist in a town as presumably enlightened as Chapel Hill is chilling.
As the nation gears up to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is well past time for U.S. patriots in the first place to give a fitting rebuke to traitors and demagogues: the Town Council should immediately engage in urgent consultations with the UNC Board of Trustees to remove the eyesore and obscene insult that is 'Silent Sam' from the prominent place it now occupies on the UNC campus.
Chapel Hill, NC