Silencing Sam: Students Call for the Removal of the Silent Sam Monument

By Madison Dobrzenski

| September 26, 2017

UNC-Chapel Hill’s first day of class this year was particularly special for hundreds of students gathered at the Silent Sam Confederate monument because it was also considered “the first day of Silent Sam’s last semester.” Silent Sam is a statue of a Confederate soldier located on Chapel Hill’s campus. After the rallies in Charlottesville, a lot of controversy has surrounded around Confederate statues and why so many people want them to come down. I personally believe that Confederate statues should be removed because they glorify soldiers that fought in an anti-American, treasonous, racist civil war. Most people’s argument for why these statues should remain standing is “we can’t erase history.” I get that. However, there is a difference between remembering history and glorifying the negative aspects of it. It’s an indisputable fact that the Confederacy wanted to secede from the United States, and that the Civil War was fought over the states’ rights to own slaves. As Alexander Stephens, the vice-president of the Confederacy said, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea[of racial equality]; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” This was a war over the right to own people. You can word that however you want, that they were fighting for “states’ rights,” is true, but it was the states’ rights to own black people as slaves. These statues of Confederate soldiers glorify people who had racist and flat-out anti-American motives. People who oppose this viewpoint don’t see the Civil War for what it truly is. A friend of mine that is a freshman at Chapel Hill and attended the rally, Hannah McCarthy, told me about her experience. She explained a conversation she had with someone of an opposing viewpoint. He believed that Silent Sam should remain where he is. The main things he said were “I don’t hate black people, I just hate black violence,” and he plagued her with the question “How do you feel about the 63 soldiers that were students that fought in the Civil War?” Like my friend, I believe that those soldiers are not relevant in this fight. The UNC students that fought in the Civil War, whether by choice or otherwise, do not need to be honored on the campus in such a display. On UNC’s website, the soldiers that the statue is dedicated to were said to “answer the call of duty,” but that isn’t the call of duty for UNC or North Carolina anymore, and taking the statue down would show that. The war was still fought over slavery, the soldiers were fighting on an evil side of history, and we should keep record of that in museums and textbooks, not monuments praising it. As of 2015, there is a state law prohibiting the removal of Confederate monuments without the approval of state legislature. If it were up to UNC, the monument would be gone. In fact, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said in a message telling students not to attend the rally, “We are always concerned about safety on the campus and if we had the ability to immediately move the statue in the interest of public safety, we would.” Unfortunately, it isn’t up to the UNC administration and this issue is larger than one university. Public institutions shouldn’t have statues glorifying Confederate soldiers. Confederate monuments across America are being removed, and despite what some people believe, this is progress. Hopefully these protests will show this side of history, where college students don’t want symbols of hatred on their campus, and the losing side of a war against its own country isn’t praised. Hopefully, August 22 actually was the first day of Silent Sam’s last semester.

Category:Opinion, Politics, Society and Identity, Student Life

Comments are closed.