What should replace Silent Sam?
Monument to slavery
As I have previously calculated, any son of a Confederate veteran would have to be at least 150 years old, so some confusion about sworn enemies of the United States might be expected.
In his demand to return Silent Sam, the monument to white supremacy, to its former location on my alma mater’s campus, R. Kevin Stone insults every African American in this state, along with millions of other human rights advocates, whom he labels extremists and elitists.
Stone refers to himself as “commander” of the Confederate Sons. My late father was a real commander, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy who helped defeat the racist Nazis and were he alive today, he would celebrate the permanent removal of this monument to slavery and stupidity from our beloved campus.
Graham Hayes Marlette
M.A. ‘74 UNC-CH
Those who forget the past
I was a civil rights organizer, political consultant and speech writer in the 1960s and 70s. I organized and participated in many demonstrations, never once in violent acts. I discovered that many of those who did do the violent acts were more interested in doing the violence than in the cause itself, also discovering that causes and politics were seductive beasts in that for many, they themselves and their own notoriety became the driving force.
There are many moments in our history where immoral and disgusting moments are still remembered, for instance, the Holocaust Museum. As a devout believer in human rights, I believe that memorials such as The Silent Sam statue on the UNC campus and others in the south should be preserved and moved to a location such as Gettysburg.
The noted philosopher George Santayana once said: “Those that forget the past are bound to repeat it in the future.”
B. Kenneth McGee
Facts required for communication
It seems essential for the survival of our republic, with its guarantees of freedom and respect for human rights, that we learn to reduce the current level of division between “left” and “right.”
In my parents’ time, there were differences between the major parties, but never the degree of polarization that we have now. Truman and Eisenhower were from different parties, but both were reasonable presidents who had the country’s best interest at heart.
I believe it’s the Republicans who have changed, allowing their constituents’ feelings on “social issues” to drive their policy to the right. But whichever party has drifted more afield, we need to be able to talk with each other.
How do we talk? There’s no basis for communication without common understanding of what facts mean. Feelings are not facts. It’s a fact, for example, that few if any scientists now deny the reality of climate change, nor that it’s largely driven by human action and inaction. Also, the quotes of its founders show that the Confederacy was formed to protect the institution of slavery.
Some may feel it shouldn’t matter if we continue to overuse fossil fuels, plastic bags, etc. – it’s easier that way, right? – or that Confederate symbols should be about a history that can be construed as honorable. But, in both cases, the facts say otherwise, and those are just two examples of many.
Maybe it’s up to our schools to teach children that facts matter. If enough of them absorb this early, the next generation may remedy our divisions, but that doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility to try to communicate.
Joan F. Walsh
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