Silent Sam Confederate Memorial on UNC Campus, Pulled Down

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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65 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    Louisville is in the process of removing our last two Confederate-linked statues. They are (probably) going to be moved to the Confederate section of our largest cemetery. Seems like the best option at this point.Report

    • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      Seems about right. NC passed a law making the decisions the pervue of a Governor’s commission to try and get it out of municipalities and cool things off. Obviously wasn’t fast enough for these folks on what was the first day of class at Chapel Hill.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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        says:

        I can’t help but wonder what will be next after the Civil War statues. There are a lot of other bastards out there that have statues.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          says:

          I think one way of drawing the line would be, “Is your statue here because of something great you did while also being a bastard on the side, or is it primarily because of something awful you did?”

          So, for example, every POTUS gets a pass even though most of them have their fingerprints on terrible things.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Troublesome Frog
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            says:

            Yeah I think this is a good way of drawing the line.

            I also think when we get down to it, the way we decide to allocate public property and money to monuments, statues, and the like, is always going to be a political decision. And the pro-Confederate monument case is absolute garbage.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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        says:

        I’m not sure how that was supposed to “cool things off”.

        Like, weren’t the municipalities trying to take the statues down, and the NC lege was trying to stop it?Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to pillsy
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          says:

          Exactly. Its the same interference of conservative state legislatures perform when liberal cities try to do anything liberal. This can be anything from trying to pull down Confederate statutes to increasing funding on public transportation. While municipalities are creations of the state, many conservative legislatures have a tendency to impose colonial rule when they want to.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I can’t approve of the vandalism, but I also can’t fail to see the foot-dragging that’s going on concerning removal.

    I just don’t understand the love that some people devote to these statues, to this vision of the Confederacy as somehow pure and noble, worthy nostalgia — and thus, its warriors worthy of honor and remembrance.

    The explanation “they love white supremacy” doesn’t feel right or adequate to me. When I talk about this with statue-supporters, there’s obviously much more to it than that, and ready enough acknowledgement that slavery was a smudge on the honor of the Confederacy. I can respond that it was quite a bit more than a smudge, but then I wind up with slogans about “not erasing history.”

    In any event, the fewer of these statues that stand in places of high visibility and public honor, the happier I’ll be.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      More often than anything it’s nostalgia. Take myself for example. To my knowledge I have no ancestors that fought for the grays, and Kentucky was a border state. I don’t have any affinity for the cause, whether it be retaining the institution of slavery or a more generic ‘states’ rights’. Culturally I am much closer to being a Midwesterner. My favorite part of the country is roughly the northeast. I don’t even like the climate of the southeast. With all of that said, I still identify as a Southerner because there are many aspects of contemporary Southern culture that I love (food, hunting, etc). So I find myself wistful not for the Confederacy but using it as a surrogate for a vague ‘Southern Pride’. We really do need a new symbol, but opinions vary on what that should look like.Report

      • Avatar Nevermoor in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        Two reactions:

        1. Isn’t that the problem, though. For a certain range of skin tones, the flag has been used as a proxy for that sort of hazy southern pride. But it’s a really awful symbol for that if you’re trying to include a pretty large chunk of the people who live there. Given this, the insistence upon the hazy-pride point seems illogical in the face of some specific and meritiorious objections.

        2. I thought there already was a new symbol.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      You can’t persuade anyone that their culture isn’t honorable, if you’re on the outside. The harder you try, the worse you look in their eyes.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      The problem is that defining racism and white supremacy seems to always have an awfully high bar to pass. A lot of people are very uncomfortable with a broad definition of racism because it challenges their biographies and advantages. White Supremacy needs to be more than being a Nazi or a Klansmen or one of the Unite the Right types. A person can see all those types as vulgar losers but still be really uncomfortable at the idea of living next to a minority family in their suburb or admitting one to their country club.

      There is still too much soft-peddling of the Civil War in our education system. We need teach it for what it is. The Civil War was treason in defense of slavery. The whole idea of Southern honor (or old-school honor in general) should probably go the way of the Dodo. I don’t care for explanations Scots-Irish leave me alone heritage or former Cavalier glory.
      I do like it when Erik Loomis on LGM describes Arlington Cemetery as “Land confiscated from the Traitor Lee.”Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        Coming up with a common working definition of racism is very hard. Just as one side seeks to giving racism the most narrow and strict definition possible so that very few people or actions constitute racism, the other side wants a very broad definition so that nearly everything done by the other side can be seen as racist. This is all so that people can get the policy solutions hard.

        The people calling for a broad definition of racism are not always consistent on this subject. Many on the Left might want to have racism defined against people of color to include systematic racism but they bristle at how many Jews define anti-Semitism because they believe it hinders their ability to bash Zionism and Israel as white settler colonialism rather than as Jewish self-determination. Many on the Left want anti-Semitism to only mean a White Person with a swastika tattooed in the middle of their forehead ranting about Jews. They do not want to acknowledge anti-Semitism on their side of the aisle or among people they are sympathetic to.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq
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          says:

          I never said it would be easy. It might be impossible. But there needs to be something more than giving in to the narrowest possible definition.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq
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          says:

          common working definition

          “Working” seems to be the interesting thought in there.

          There are 4 or 5 definitions of “racism” and I’ve noticed that conversations about racism seem to wander through the 4 or 5 different definitions without noting that, yes, they’re talking about definition 2 now and not definition 4 anymore.

          (And then there’s the trick of “that’s not ‘racism’! That’s ‘bigotry’!” as if the original point is significantly weakened by the distinction being made.)

          Anyway, if it becomes obvious that the point is to create a definition that only “works” when one of the sides of the debate uses it and it stops working the second someone else picks it up, the moral force of the term is severely lessened.

          (See, for example, “Privilege”.)Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            Wouldn’t it make sense to hear what black and brown people themselves think it is?

            Maybe it is so mysterious a concept because those of us discussing it don’t actually experience it. However well meaning we try to be, I certainly don’t know what it is like to be black in America, or what it is like to have to sit my son down and have The Talk with him.

            It is always a risk, for us liberals as well, to resolve these things in ways that make us feel comfortable and unchallenged.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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              says:

              Sure. If they’re not here to give their viewpoint, who do we pick to speak on their behalf in their absence?

              Personally, I think it’s of interest to look at the local make-up of the schools in which people send their children or of the demographics of their zip codes.

              Usually I get told that I’m taking stuff out of context and that I’m not seeing the big picture or that zip codes don’t really correlate to anything and we should go back to listening to the loudest of the Loraxes demanding to speak on the behalf of the brown and the black people.Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Proposing we ignore the Lorax is an… odd… rhetorical choice.

                What work is the zip code analysis supposed to do? Is the idea that if an area is white enough, then any minority living there should just suck it up and not complain about Forrest High?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nevermoor
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                says:

                Well, if there aren’t any trees around, I suppose you need someone to be a Lorax on their behalf.

                That’s all you need to do to be one, right? Show up?Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m either not understanding you, or you aren’t remembering the story.

                The Lorax was there from day 1 when there was a forest. And sometimes people do benefit from help being heard.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nevermoor
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                says:

                Oh, well. Could *I* speak on behalf of People of Color, then?

                Personally, I think it’d be presumptuous of me.

                As such I tend to project and think it’s presumptuous of others.

                Should I stop doing that and listen up when a Person of Pallor starts telling me that they’re speaking on behalf of People of Color?

                Maybe I’ve been going about this all wrong!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                TNC has written extensively about the black experience in America. Lots of other black writers have too. White people quote other white people all the time. Does something prevent you from quoting black people?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Oh, I’ve no problem doing that. Sounds good.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Why can’t we take their word for it?
                The main thrust of black authors and commentators is that black folks experience disdain and contempt from white people.

                The white community responds by trying to prove, via a blizzard of charts and graphs and statistical regression analyses that it either doesn’t happen, couldn’t happen, or if it does happen, isn’t so bad and is probably deserved.

                Yet some white people complain about being treated with contempt, and it provokes a national spasm of handwringing and soul searching, with the automatic assumption we can take these people at their word.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                What’s the old expression? America is a center-white nation.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        White Supremacy needs to be more than being a Nazi or a Klansmen or one of the Unite the Right types.

        For this to work you have to both be ready to stigmatize mostly powerless people well-beyond what they deserve over problems they mostly don’t have much control over. You also have to believe this will change their opinions or behavior in a positive way as opposed to just robbing the term of meaning. I see little hope in that, especially when our modern race problems are tied up in race neutral policies with disparate impact and socio-economic issues that have as much to do with poverty as skin color.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to InMD
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          says:

          While I understand the argument in principle, in practice it seems to let a lot of very powerful bad actors off the hook in the name of not stigmatizing a bunch of actors who are, for the most part, not quite so powerless as all that.

          This itself raises the sort of symmetric problem, where people start dismissing the charge that they’re too eager to call out racism on account of being told that in response to calling out really blatant racism.

          I don’t see a way around this without something like a common definition.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to pillsy
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            says:

            I see it as a matter of whats constructive and what isn’t. I don’t really know that it’s possible to compromise with a committed member of the KKK or some similar movement whose adherents really believe other races are inherently inferior and the government should use force to empower white people over others. The good news is there aren’t many people like that, and those groups, while capable of some very small evil, don’t pose a meaningful threat to those they hate in any broad sense.

            On the other hand, you look at things like school districting, and quality of public services, and unemployment, that disproportionately impact (some) minority groups in negative ways and deprive them from the full benefits of citizenship. These are really complicated problems with legitimate conflicting interests. Yea I think it’d be naive to believe there’s no racist biases in the mix. What I don’t see is how it helps to equate everyone who supports some policy or another with a disproportionate impact on minorities or who harbors an irrational fear of the other with dyed in the whool hate groups. If anything that approach seems more likely to be an impediment to progress.

            There’s never going to be some great awakening where everyone is suddenly on exactly the same page with respect to what is and isn’t racist. We’ve done a halfway decent job of banishing the de jure and really overt stuff (I know some people disagree with this, I say read a history book). The current job is hard and messy and we operate in a political system designed to frustrate power. It’s frustrating and lacks the appeal of the righteous prevailing in total victory but thats the path forward. I don’t think hunting for klansmen and hidden agendas and parsing statements for signs of racism will ultimately serve the purpose of getting more excluded people to the table of full and equal citizenship, which to me is the goal.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to InMD
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              says:

              I see it as a matter of whats constructive and what isn’t.

              Right, but in order for constructive things to happen, you need to have a pretty wide range of people on board. Including ones who see stuff as being pretty damn racist—even overtly racist—even when it’s being perpetrated and advanced by people who aren’t bearing Tiki torches or bearing swastika tattoos.

              For instance, the majority of the people who defend keeping Confederate statuary do none of those things, but given the history of that statuary, people complaining that it’s white supremacist are IMO 100%, unambiguously right. And you don’t exactly have to closely parse the statements of a Steve King or a Tucker Carlson to detect racism.

              So I’m pretty sure you need a definition of “white supremacism” that includes more things than just Klansman, while you may also need a definition that stops short of including multi-factorial public policy clusterfucks that are facially race neutral and generations in the making.

              Or else the same non-constructive conversation will continue.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to pillsy
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                says:

                Well FWIW, while I don’t love the way this was done I do think it’s time to retire Confederate monuments from the public square to museums, and I don’t think state legislatures should impede municipalities that want to do that.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    I don’t approve of vigilante justice, but, sometimes, the culture just isn’t getting stuff done.

    In those cases, you can’t help but root for the vigilantes.Report

  4. Avatar pillsy
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    says:

    And now the dipshits running UNC are saying they’re going to put the statue back up.Report

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