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Knock 'Em All Down

Robert Franklin

Posted on August 21, 2018 11:49

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UNC students took down a statue of Silent Sam, a Confederate monument that has existed on campus since 1913. Silent Sam is the latest in a string of Confederate statues that have been decimated by anti-racist demonstrators following the Charleston shooting and the Charlottesville protests. But we shouldn't stop here. We need to take them all down and throw them in the garbage heap of history alongside the nation and ideas they represent.

An associate at work and I once broached the topic of Confederate imagery during a particularly slow morning. This was around the time Confederate monuments falling across the country was regular news fodder.

My associate disagreed with the practice, finding it to be a childish, antagonistic demonstration, rooted in a baseless, antagonistic view of what he called "Southern heritage, tradition, and sweet tea."

The conversation ultimately went nowhere, but what my associate demonstrated was an indoctrinated view of Southern history called the "Lost Cause," which is why most of the Confederate monuments went up... and why they're now coming down.

I never bought the Lost Cause. I don't believe it does anyone any good, as it re-writes history to paint the Confederacy in antebellum acrylics that minimize the horror on which it was founded and romanticize the Civil War as a cultural struggle to preserve the Southern way of life.

Recently, many of the statues commemorating Confederate soldiers or representing the "heroic" endeavors of the Confederacy have met a fate similar to those whom they represent. They have been utterly and mercilessly destroyed by powerful opposition, their remains scattering splintered on the earth like the ambition of the traitorous nation they represent.

They deserve to be destroyed, not only because of what they are believed to represent -- a white-washed view of a racist nation -- but what they actually represent.

In the case of Silent Sam, the statue toppled at the University of North Carolina on Tuesday, students used the nature of the statue being erected in the first place as cause to take it down.

Silent Sam wasn't put up to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers from the area. He was symbol of white supremacy, placed openly by the Daughters of the Confederacy -- themselves champions of white supremacy and the Lost Cause -- to bring another face from the past into the present as an enforcement of Jim Crow and American apartheid.

At Silent Sam's dedication in 1913, Juian Carr, a notable advocate for the Ku Klux Klan, spoke clearly as to what the statue represented, crediting Confederate soldiers with having saved the "very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South" and praising God that "the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern states."

Other statues that have come down following the shooting at Emmanuel AME in Charleston and last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville share a similar story to Silent Sam -- erected in the early 20th Century by the Daughters of the Confederacy, dedicated with speeches by known white supremacists and their allies, and acting as symbols of white superiority while adding faces to segregation and the misery of black people in the American South.

They exist to trivialize and terrorize black people, to show them that the ghosts of the men who shed blood to keep them in chains and the ideology that enabled them to do so still exist today.

Take them all down. Now.

Robert Franklin

Posted on August 21, 2018 11:49

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Using a rope, jubilant protesters brought down the longstanding Confederate statue on the UNC campus.

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