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09/04 – What you’re saying: Christopher B. Sanford, Eunice Brock, Gordon Hansen, Robert L. Porreca, Brenda Buie Burnette, Jennifer Ansley and Jack Dunn

The age-old victims

This Silent Sam – the statue on the UNC campus – that so many want to remove: Who was he? And how bad was he?

First of all, the statue is not an identifiable individual. In fact, the model for it was a young man in Boston, not a Confederate or even a North Carolinian. And he clearly does not represent a general or leader, and probably not a slave owner.

No, he represents many young UNC students who were, if not conscripted, at least pressured or otherwise induced to join the Confederate Army, where, out of motivations of honor or loyalty to state and homeland, they fought bravely and often died.

They were, we might say, the age-old victims: Old men start wars, so that young men may fight and die.

Let’s keep Silent Sam, but add a plaque honoring those who bravely went off to fight a war that they may or may not have understood.

Christopher B. Sanford

Durham

The stupidity of war

Some are railing against the cost of guarding “Silent Sam” on the campus of UNC, now in the range of $10,000. That is a pittance compared with the millions of dollars spent guarding against punitive action by the NCAA in the matter of the athletic scandal at Carolina. Isn’t it worth that small amount to preserve peace and prevent possible wanton destruction of the statue?

When many look at the statue they see a symbol of the Confederacy that enslaved black people for generations. I do not see a general with epaulettes riding a beautiful horse; rather, I see an ordinary soldier with an empty ammunition pouch. He may be thinking of returning to an impoverished family and country and of his fellow soldiers who died in the war.

“Silent Sam” makes one think of the stupidity of war and that nobody comes out of a war without injuries to the soul or of the devastation wrought. He reminds me that we as a nation never learn from history but keep repeating it over and over.

Eunice Brock

Chapel Hill

Do more than sit on sidelines

Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem, due to all the supposed trials and tribulations the Blacks are subjected to on an ongoing basis. Perhaps he should read the newspapers about cities like Chicago, the murder capital of the United States. Perhaps read about Detroit, once a bustling city, until the political leadership changed and is now 32 percent below the poverty level, or Cincy that is now at 27 percent below the poverty level.

We could go on with statistics, but people like this young, gifted athlete won’t do anything but sit and show his displeasure. Why doesn’t he, and many, many others go out and work, come up with new ideas to accomplish something?

With his supposed “star “ status, have him conduct meetings and tell his downtrodden people that murder is wrong, and against the law, rather than sitting or kneeling on the sidelines. Perhaps Colin could teach kids in the inner city that worship him to get educated so they can perform truly useful work, and not feel that dealing in drugs and narcotics is the only thing they can do.

Rather than showing off his hurt from the past, perhaps he should visit all the rescue missions in the U.S., churches by the thousands that feed all the needy, perhaps get involved actively and just not kneel to show his limited knowledge of what the majority of all true God-fearing people do for the poor, uneducated, yes and many lazy people in the United States, who would rather complain, than help, or like Kaepernick, bemoan this greatest of countries, that didn’t give him all that he feels he is entitled to.

Gordon Hansen

Durham

Lukewarm leftovers

The Herald Sun appears to be pursuing a vendetta against UNC-Chapel Hill over ‘Silent Sam.’ Twice last week stories re-hashing the university’s careful navigation of the issue of removing the statue legally have appeared on the front page, above the fold, space usually reserved for declarations of war and multiple murders.

Is this a brazen attempt by the editors to keep the pot stirred hoping for a violent clash worthy of that level of attention? University officials have indicated they would like the statue moved but would like to do it legally. Everyone but the pigeons and the wheat farmers of Kazakhstan have weighed in on the subject. Why, in the name of William Randolph Hearst, are the lukewarm leftovers of news offered up daily as if a gourmet meal?

In the 1960s protest organizers (from all persuasions) found that a demonstration without media coverage was wasted effort. Few people would know it happened. The surest way to get media coverage was to deliver some drama in the form of property destruction and violence, usually against the police attempting to maintain order and, many times, with police cooperation.

Controversy sells papers and grabs viewers. In the course of “furnishing the war,” to quote Mr. Hearst, the editors of The Herald-Sun ought to remember their role is to accurately report without bias not to deviously help create events.

Robert L. Porreca

Hillsborough

Political labels

Maj. Paul Martin of the Durham Sheriff's department called members of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) who detroyed the Confederate statue in front of the old Durham County Courtlouse, anarchist. What would he call the individuals who burned a cross in his yard many years ago? Revolutionaries?

Brenda Buie Burnette

Durham

How far back?

At the risk of losing friends, may I comment on one of the president’s points in both Charlottesville I and Charlottesville II remarks, because it seemed to me the most intelligent sentence of the entire fiasco – “Where does it stop? How far back in history do we go?”

Do we initiate an economic boycott on Sweden who did not outlaw the slave trade until after the U.S.?

If we want to truly protest the evil institution let us shun Mali, in Africa, whose capital, Timbuktu was likely THE economic and intellectual powerhouse of the world as they knew it a millennium ago. The foundation of that evil driven GDP was the slave trade. Tribal chiefs came from all over Africa bartering their captives with the wholesalers who then sold them at retail to their new Arab masters. Shall we boycott Mali - or the entire continent of Africa - for their part in this horror?

Or shall we go more current? Shall we destroy FDR monuments for interment of 125,000-plus Japanese behind barbed wire in the forties?

More current still? Shall we make mention at the Martin Luther King Memorial his relationship with Ms. Georgia Davis?

Where does it end friends? Where does it end?

Jack Dunn

Wilmington

Workers everywhere

As a contingent faculty member at Duke University, I know that my working conditions are inextricably tied to struggles of workers everywhere, which is why this Labor Day, I’ll be on a strike line with fast food workers calling for $15/hour and union rights.

Over the past two years, my colleagues and I have been organizing for higher pay and a collective voice at Duke. After 10 arduous months of negotiations with the Duke administration, we emerged as the first faculty union at a private university in the South. We won 46 percent raises for the lowest-paid faculty and renewable contracts for people accustomed to working on temporary, short-term, and terminal contracts.

We’re proud of what we achieved, but as Durham community members, we want to use Labor Day to acknowledge that we’re part of a much larger movement for economic justice.

That’s why we’re joining with fast food workers on strike this Labor Day. We believe that if we and other Duke workers can win major improvements in our working conditions at the second largest employer in North Carolina, fast food workers here in Durham can win $15/hour and union rights, too. We also know that our wins wouldn't have been possible without community support; in turn, we plan to be with Durham's fast-food workers every step of the way.

Jennifer Ansley

Durham

What you’re saying

Please send up to 300 words to letters@heraldsun.com. Thank you.

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