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The Daily Tar Heel

Letter: Give local power to a local issue


Re: the continuing controversy over “Silent Sam,” I have struggled to come to some conclusions of my own. 

I have heard many voices calling for the statues removal and a few asking that it remain. But who has the authority to approve its removal if that is sought?

It is clear that the NC General Assembly has placed severe roadblocks to any action by local authorities or higher education institutions, placing the decision ostensibly in the hands of the NC Historical Commission and circumscribing any decision by almost impossible restrictions.

Thus, the UNC Board of Trustees and the Chancellor do not have the authority to act, whether they decide to remove the statue or not. What is to be done then?

Are we doomed to continuing protests and growing animosity on both sides? Is our democratic process so broken that there is no hope?

In my opinion the legislature must be persuaded to return the right to make decisions about memorials on public land to local authorities. Once again the legislature has clearly overstepped its appropriate authority.

With that accomplished local entities could respond as they see fit. In the case of UNC at Chapel Hill, The Chancellor, Board of Trustees and other stake holders could work out a course of action suitable to the Carolina campus.

I believe we have come to the point that demands compromise on a plan that will honor both sides in the debate. My own view is to reimagine the statue and rededicate it to the memory of UNC alumni who died on both sides of the conflict.

Remove all symbols and plaques about the original donors and any reference to the Confederacy. Replace them with honest and fair interpretations of the causes and outcome of the Civil War. Surely, men and women of good will within the University can find a way to honor the dead combatants without removing this beautiful sculpture and without ascribing racial overtones to its existence.

Samuel Magill

Class of ‘50

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