Telling the true history
Praising the troops killed in war for their sacrifice is a long-standing practice. Such praise ignores the fact the the troops were, in fact, sacrificed by those who decided to make the war. This praise of the troops’ sacrifice is used by the war-makers to justify what they did and to ennoble and sanctify the war.
Thus, UNC’s Confederate memorial, Silent Sam, tells about the sacrifice of the students who went to war for their nation. It says nothing about the war-makers, the plantation oligarchs, who sacrificed the students in the defense of the Southern slave labor system. The oligarchs saw that they would not be able to make the new states coming into the Union slaves states so they elected to attack and destroy the Union. Given the population difference, it was a foolish war and it ended in ruinous defeat. Well over a half million Americans died as a result of the war.
Because of the failure and abandonment of Reconstruction, the old oligarchy of the South was able to create the sharecropping and prison labor system to exploit the labor of the former slaves, oppress them with KKK terror, and regain their power and wealth. Around the close of the 18th century this oligarchy set about creating a self-serving ideology that inverted the reality of the war. While it was a reprehensible, foolish, traitorous, war in defense of slavery, they set about ennobling it.
It came to be widely said and believed that the Southern Cause was a grand and noble one for which the troops sacrificed their blood. That the war was about the principle of state’s rights and that the South was a victim of Northern aggression. Thousands of statues and memorials were built across the South to convey the nobility of the war. All this was remarkably successful. To this day, this is what many Southerners believe about the war. The North does not celebrate its victory. The South celebrates the preposterous.
The new Republican appointed UNC Board of Trustees has taken up the cause. They agreed to change the name of Saunders Hall. Saunders’ leadership of the KKK, however, did not disqualify him from new honors. They will put a plaque for him on the building noting his compilation of colonial historical records and such. They will not mention his leadership of the KKK.
People have to stop this plaque from going up. As for Silent Sam, someday a plaque will be added to the statue that identifies who sacrificed the troops and why. In the meantime, there should be a QR code available at the statue and the other places on the campus that will make the true history of the university and slavery and racism available to everyone with a smart phone.
Protect ‘ghost bikes’
An Open Letter to the City of Durham
A “ghost bike” is a bicycle that has been painted white, and placed along a roadside in memory of the killing of a cyclist at that place. Two such memorials in Durham were recently removed because one person complained.
Now the clock is ticking on a third ghost bike because that same person has lodged another complaint. We don’t know this person, but he most assuredly does not speak for us.
Neither does he speak for many others who live in or visit Durham. Under the current policy on roadside memorials, however, his voice is the only one that is being heard. Whether you agree with the placement of ghost bikes (and other such memorials) or not, this has to give pause to the community at large. One person has been given the power to be both judge and jury as to the presence of roadside memorials in the City of Durham.
These memorials represent the free speech rights of both the loved ones of those killed and the public-at-large to memorialize their loved ones, to grieve as they see fit, and to remind people of the consequences of their actions. The current policy, as written, allows any person to deem a roadside memorial a nuisance and lodge a complaint. The policy doesn’t require that person to be a citizen of Durham, to demonstrate that the memorial impacts their life in any way, or to show that the memorial is, in fact, a nuisance. If a person complains, then the memorial must be removed. This is at best misguided, and at worst a gross infringement of the free speech rights of those impacted.
The City Council seems to have decided that, because it has no idea as to how to fix the policy, this same policy it knows to be broken should stay in place. Having been partners or friends with someone whose untimely death is represented by one of those ghost bikes, we call on the city to do better.
Here is our proposal: the complainant should attest under oath that he or she is a Durham resident that lives or works within a quarter mile of the roadside memorial, and must specifically allege how the memorial poses a nuisance. The city should then, in conjunction with the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, make a determination as to whether the memorial is actually a nuisance. For example, does the memorial block road maintenance? Is it in disrepair? If it is not a nuisance, it stays. If it is, then it can be removed. An appeals process should also be established to ensure this policy is fairly applied. Only with such a narrowly tailored policy can freedom of speech rights be preserved.
To do less is unconstitutional.
Partner of Seth Vidal
Partner of Kent Winberry
Carrie Anne Orlikowski,
Friend of Seth Vidal’
Register for Peer Learning
Five new fall courses will be offered by Peer Learning of Chapel Hill, a nonprofit group for seniors and retirees. Located at Binkley Memorial Church, 1712 Willow Drive, next to University Place (formerly University Mall), the classes are taught by peers, often retired professors or professionals in their fields, who discuss, lecture, and use videos.
Participants will probe presidents’ ailments on medical grand rounds at the White House, watch Pericles in Athens’ Golden Age, learn beliefs of famous and everyday people, review the good old days compared with today, and explore advances of the future affecting our grandchildren. Five additional classes include opera videos and discussions of personal topics, current events, short stories, and books.
A monthly social-speaker meeting and a Stepping-Out Luncheon provide the opportunity to meet new people. The fall semester begins with the social-speaker meeting at 10:30 a.m. Friday Sept. 11 in the Binkley Church Lounge. Classes start the week of Sept. 14.
The cost of $25 per semester covers the membership fee and all classes. To learn more and register, go to peerlearningofchapelhill.com or call 919-942-3044.