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Remember Silent Sam? Well, he’s back.
Apparently, a group of prominent UNC graduates and disgruntled neo-abolitionists are offended by Chancellor Folt’s $5.6 million solution, dissatisfied with the UNC Board of Governors’ $2.6 million solution and Judge Baddour’s hope to exile Sam into historical oblivion. What this august body has not offered is a solution. Alumni who never achieved “big donor” status must wonder what transformed Sam from guardian of female virtue to an offensive icon of white supremacy to be sold on the auction block.
Herein lies the crux of the hysteria: Which history defines the Southern culture? If we accept author Ron Chernow’s disdain for a culture that embraces “ingratiating manners” and Hollywood’s brutal portrayal of Southern slavery, then Sam should be sold as scrap metal. If Sam was a memorial to brave women and men who sought to preserve their cultural roots threatened by Reconstruction atrocities, then Sam should be returned to campus.
Neo-abolitionists and white supremacists have opened wounds that took more than 100 years to close. If the university continues to make Southern slavery the standard by which all memorials are measured, we will witness a threat to academic freedom unequaled since the infamous UNC speaker ban.
From this perspective, UNC’s prominent and privileged have unwittingly played into the hands of a white supremacy and cultural intolerance.