Letters to the Editor

Letters: Keep statues on university campus but tell the whole story of our past

The rise and fall of Silent Sam

Silent Sam has stood on UNC-Chapel Hill's McCorkle Place for 105 years. On Monday August 20, 2018, it was brought down by protesters.
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Silent Sam has stood on UNC-Chapel Hill's McCorkle Place for 105 years. On Monday August 20, 2018, it was brought down by protesters.

Statues must tell whole story

Very few issues raise my ire to the level of outward disdain more than the discussion of “Silent Sam” and its former place on the campus of my alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill.

I’m not convinced of the sincerity in Chancellor Carol Fort’s apology for slavery and the use of slaves to help build the university. I sense a betrayal looming in the form of an attempt to remount the statue on campus.

However, opponents of this strategy will not stand mute. We won’t suffer this horrific symbol on our campus composed of a cross section of American society — not solely descendants of Confederate soldiers and slave owners.The administration must symbolically recognize descendants of the raped, lynched, tortured, abused, overworked, emasculated, marginalized, disenfranchised, and those sold at auctions who attend, or who have attended UNC. We must look forward to a future that is pluralistic, diverse, fair and equitable in the depiction of a common history.

No one should be compelled to view history through a single perspective on slavery and the fight for its continuation. If statues like “Silent Sam” are to remain on public property, they MUST be joined, equitably, by statues, not plaques Chancellor Fort, depicting the horrors of slavery from a slave’s perspective. Depict the entire story or none at all!

Ron Scales

Zebulon

The best ACC sports reporter

I am writing to honor and remember my friend Al Featherston, who died Nov. 5. Al was a sports reporter at The Herald-Sun for many years and in my opinion the best reporter of ACC sports in the country. I would eagerly look forward to his game reports and analysis. My conversations with Al were wide-ranging from sports to history to movies and he was always interested in the people around him.

You will be missed, Al. Rest in Peace.

Steed Rollins Jr.

Durham

Legitimizing hate

The shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, which took the lives of 11 congregants gathered on the Sabbath to celebrate an infant’s bris ceremony, was an unconscionable act of anti-Semitic hatred.

But for the Tree of Life community — and for members of the Jewish faith across the country and around the world — the shooting is also embedded in a much larger history, a history of collective persecution that has produced some of the greatest atrocities ever committed by humankind.

For generations, the United States of America has been at least a partial refuge from this history: a land where Jews have been free to practice their faith without fear of violence, and where they have been interwoven — unevenly, to be sure, but steadily over time —with the cultural, economic, and political fabric of our nation. We must not allow this despicable attack to unravel this fabric.

We must also acknowledge clearly and forcefully that this act of hate did not occur in a vacuum. The Anti-Defamation League has reported a historic rise in anti-Semitic incidents and online harassment over the past year. Neo-Nazis and other hate groups that have long existed at the fringes of American society now feel emboldened and empowered by the right-wing websites, commentators, and elected officials who have legitimized and given voice to their hate.

When a member of the U.S. House of Representatives aligns himself with neo-Nazi candidates and parties abroad, he is legitimizing hate. When prominent Republicans employ rhetoric peddled by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists to attack a Holocaust survivor because he donates to their opponents, they are legitimizing hate.

And when the president of the United States condones violence by his supporters and calls the extremists who descended on Charlottesville last year “very fine people,” he is legitimizing hate.

As a nation, we must summon the collective determination not just to condemn the actions of individuals but to confront the hatred and bigotry that give rise to them. At a time of intense partisan rancor and anxiety, we must unite in common purpose rather than stoking anger and division. We must honor those killed in Pittsburgh by rededicating ourselves to values of diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect.

U.S. Rep. David Price

Chapel Hill

11 people were killed and multiple people were injured in a shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood on Oct. 27. Police said the suspect is in custody.

Politicians must change, or we must change politicians

One week in the country and state I love.

A lonely man used a gun to show the world just how unhappy he was. People were murdered doing something utterly ordinary — again. The shooter acquired PTSD fighting in an unnecessary war. The dead included an armed, experienced officer of the law who was on the verge of retirement. Yet, Republicans continue to promote the idea that arming more people, including teachers, is a solution.

The majority of North Carolinians approved an amendment to “protect” hunting and fishing. It’s currently legal for a person on the terrorist watch list to purchase an assault weapon with a bump stock. Only two members of Congress received more financial support from the NRA, than Senators Burr and Tillis. The NRA opposes any and all forms of reasonable gun control – their goal is to make money at any cost.

People, children, are dying – while dancing, going to school and worshiping God. I believe that Americans and North Carolinians are too smart and too kind to continue to support politicians who continue to ignore this fact. Let’s tell them they must change – or go.

Leigh Bordley

Durham

To-do list for Congress

On Nov. 6, I was excited to take part in democracy and I was grateful to be able to vote early — at my convenience. However, as the day went on and as news of election results mixed with reports of long lines at polling places and voting irregularities in Georgia and Florida, I despaired.

For a healthy, vibrant democracy and engaged citizens, voting should be easy. Therefore, I urge Representative Butterfield to please consider state and federal legislation that:

1. Automatically registers all residents to vote.

2. Enables early voting in all states and voting by mail.

3. Makes election day a national holiday (instead of Columbus Day, maybe?!).

4. Returns to paper ballots all around and require citizens to work the polls and count ballots in a system of civic duty akin to jury duty.

Thank you. I hope Rep Butterfield and the new Democratic Congress can work on some of these actions and improve voting for all citizens.

Stephanie Brown

Durham

Protect press from president

As a constituent, I would like to know what Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis are going to do to hold the president accountable for escalating hate towards journalists. The free press is vital to our democracy, and he is putting every journalist in harm’s way!

An American journalist was murdered, dismembered and possibly dissolved in acid. What are our senators going to do about this and the president’s behavior? An American resident was killed by a foreign country and no one seems to care or to want to hold the president accountable for inciting violence towards the press!

Defend our democracy! Defend the free press! Defend our country from this unqualified racist in the White House!

Elise Dickinson

Durham

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