If the protesters think they hold an enlightenment that all of those with battle flag memorabilia don’t, then they’ve failed to consider the sensitivity of the oppressed party. It is also ironic that some wore masks to disguise themselves, violating a law once aimed at the KKK.
I am a descendant of Confederate soldiers, and I am often thankful that William P. Rierson had children before marching off to war. He and another grandfather never came home and still lie in unmarked Virginia graves. Thinking about that pains me, and as a history lover, I will always be devoted to preserving their memory.
William P. Rierson served under Colonel James T. Morehead, Jr. a UNC graduate from a family of generous University benefactors. Silent Sam is far from the only local symbol of the Confederate past, as rebel generals, members of Congress and sympathizers are memorialized across the campus. Attending the school of slaveholding Confederate leaders as a descendant of their poorer followers, called Tar Heels, was a reflective experience.
Going to UNC during the Silent Sam trouble was, in fact, enlightening for this Southerner. It was critically important that I live among progressives for four years to truly understand both sides of Civil War commemoration. I cannot perfectly empathize with people of color who felt oppressed by Silent Sam’s presence on campus, but it is only right that I try to understand.
My wish as I watch the aftermath of Silent Sam’s toppling is that all sides of this controversy can learn to think and feel from a different perspective. Respect must be given to defenders of Confederate heritage, those who felt like second-class citizens under those watchful bronze eyes and everyone in between.
Today’s Tar Heels need to consciously build understanding with one another for a civilized community to survive this event, as it cuts to the core of a racial and historical identity divide. Unfortunately, I doubt many good feelings can remain between an emboldened progressive bubble and an enraged army of heritage defenders.
If this symbolic fight becomes more violent, even the vandals may come to regret it.