Viewpoint: Confederate past goes beyond slavery
THE ISSUE: The upcoming sesquicentennial of the Civil War has sparked discussion around campus and the state about the proper treatment of North Carolina’s Confederate past. Is it a valid part of the state’s heritage, or is it something to be shamed or forgotten? What should happen to Silent Sam? Today, members of the editorial board weigh in on the war’s proper place in the discourse.
With the sesquicentennial of the North Carolina’s secession from the United States rapidly approaching, debate has erupted among the student body regarding the presence of Civil War memorials on campus.
Considering the deep and profound involvement that our state and our University had with the War Between the States, the presence of monuments, such as Silent Sam, are wholly justified. Yet many students say the removal of Silent Sam is more desirable than a comprehensive acknowledgement of our University’s history.
Any assertions which attempt to indict our campus’ Civil War monuments as a direct tribute to institutional slavery are utterly false. Instead, the statue of Silent Sam itself stands as a testament to the UNC students who died fighting in the war and the sons and daughters who suffered as a result.
As a corollary, disregard for the connection that our state and University shared with the Civil War would in fact be irresponsible. Our state and University are so deeply tied to this conflict that it cannot be ignored.
As the last state to formally secede from the Union, North Carolina sacrificed more men to the war than any other Southern state. The war itself claimed the lives of more UNC men than any other event in history. Indeed, many of these men died in order to protect institutional slavery, which was presumably the economic lifeblood of the agricultural South.
If current logic maintains that Silent Sam is a tribute to the defense of slavery, then it must follow that the nickname “Tar Heel” is also a tribute to the men who so steadfastly spilled their own blood in defense of it.
The term “Tar Heel” proliferated during the Colonial period in which North Carolina was an industry leader in tar, pitch and turpentine production. During the Civil War, the phrase came to represent how firmly North Carolinian soldiers held their ground in defense of the Confederacy.
By this construct, supporters of Silent Sam’s removal from our campus should likewise support an alteration of our school’s mascot, similar to Ole Miss’ recent abandonment of the Colonel Reb mascot. However, we relentlessly proclaim ourselves to be Tar Heels born and bred. We enduringly sing our alma mater at every chance and thus possess the responsibility to acknowledge the history which comes along with it.
Today, we realize that institutional slavery on behalf of landowners in the South was an egregiously dehumanizing and unconstitutional practice. As a result of this sentiment, should our administrators deduce it prudent or justifiable to remove all Civil War monuments? The answer is absolutely not. Our campus and state are too inextricably linked to the Civil War that any attempts to subvert or eschew this part of North Carolina history should be deemed negligent and irresponsible.
[columnist’s name] is a columnist from The Daily Tar Heel. He/She is a [year][major] major from [hometown]. Contact him/her at [columnist’s email].
Taylor Haulsee is a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel. He is a senior economics major from Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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