Silent Sam Commentary
A Site for Sam
Silent Sam should not be silenced. He has a grave message for students of all eras: What battles are worth fighting, and is the war worth your life? We should remember the sacrifice of those students whom Sam represents. Theirs was an era filled with prejudices that modern generations have fervently fought to overcome with understanding. Removing Sam’s statue does not remove his history, but rather feeds divisiveness and could reverse the healing progress made since Sam was erected 105 years ago.
Have we truly become more civil since The Civil War? It was mob rule, not the Rule of Law, the night Silent Sam was torn down... and a key leader in Sam’s toppling was University Anthropology Professor Dwayne Dixon, a militant Redneck Revolt and radical Antifa member who participated in the recent Charlottesville demonstration. This is not the kind of person we need indoctrinating the minds of future generations. How is such a person allowed to be retained by the university, or even hired in the first place? Were there no warning signs?
Although some students were charged for rioting and defacing public property, with influence by radical professors, how will the university be able to maintain their established code of conduct? Per The Office of Student Conduct website, “the Undergraduate and Graduate & Professional School branches of the student-led Honor System works with campus and local community partners to promote safe, responsible student conduct and to provide education surrounding the honor, integrity, and ethical decision-making expected of all Carolina community members. …Carolina students pledge…to hold themselves… to a high standard of academic and non-academic conduct while both on and off Carolina’s campus. This commitment to academic integrity, ethical behavior, personal responsibility and civil discourse exemplifies the “Carolina Way”, and this commitment is codified in both the University's Honor Code and in other University student conduct-related policies.” Obviously, something broke down in this system. Such passive disregard for the security and safety of students and townspeople by the Chancellor, Provosts, and Chief Blue needs to be investigated.
We must remember the motives that gave us Sam--tragic loss of UNC lives. The prejudices of One are not reflective of the memorial to those students. Instead of reacting destructively, let us (1) Teach our history emphasizing the civility we want to embrace and (2) Relocate Silent Sam to an appropriate historical setting such as the North Carolina Room of Wilson Library. This room houses up to 50 thousand objects of North Carolina history and culture, including maps, books, and furniture dating from the late 18th and 19th centuries. Adding a plaque telling Sam’s complete story will help observers understand the historical context. Our only hope for civil discourse of controversial subjects is to treat them academically. Please forward a letter to the UNC Board of Governors (Chairman W. Louis Bassett, Jr. and Vice Chairman Harry L. Smith, Jr) supporting this initiative to move Silent Sam to the Wilson Library History and Culture room.
Kathy Arab & Waddy Davis