Those who have an in-depth understanding of the true history of the state’s Chapel Hill campus know of its grounding in the antebellum Southern culture of honor and its Presbyterian roots. In this vein, my remarks are grounded in the conventional Southern wisdom presented in Kenneth S. Greenberg’s book “Honor and Slavery.”
Here, the Southern Code of Honor says that a man of honor can be believed, can be trusted to not lie or cheat in his activities. To violate this trust a man becomes without honor. The Southern code links power to honor. It says that a man can lie or cheat but loses his honor only when that lie or cheating is discovered. Once discovered, the only recourse for the honorable man is to confront the accuser in a duel to the death. In this way, the matter is settled with a dead man of dishonor or a dead accuser. Thus honor is returned!
A man who is accused and does not challenge the assertion of lies or cheating rightly lives for the rest of his life with the humiliation and the shunning of honorable men. It is the Southern Way. It is the pre-Carolina Way of the not as distant as one might think past.
As a person with family going back to the beginning of the university, I can speak of this concept of honor. The grandson of one of my distant family members and founders of the university was exonerated from a cold-blooded murder charge regarding the defense of loss of honor. It truly was a way of life in the pre-Civil War South.
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Thus the current events at the Chapel Hill campus of our “glorified” university represent an irony and a prescription for action by the state of North Carolina.
UNC-Chapel Hill has been caught perpetuating a 20-year system of lies and cheating to advance its reputation and money returns from athletic victories. It has used its Southern code power to attempt to kill the messengers and in so doing has shown itself to be a bully of a very low class. It is without honor!
It deserves all humiliation and shunning that is consistent with the Southern code. Following the code, men and women of true honor are bound to isolate themselves from those who lie and cheat. Moreover, those who tolerated dishonor in their midst must themselves be disavowed as complicit and without honor.
The solution to “The Great Unpleasantness” described by some is straightforward. As a person who has personally given over 50 years of my life to North Carolina’s public university and finds his personal honor and resource contributions compromised by the actions of the Chapel Hill campus, I believe we must shun all those who continue to turn their heads away from the dishonor of the Chapel Hill campus and accept the actions of the past 20 years as the “modern” way of life.
Those who succor the Chapel Hill dishonor in any way are themselves without honor. Let UNC-Chapel Hill and its network of corruption play by itself. Hopefully, the rest of us, with honor, are willing to do without them.
Dr. W. Douglas Cooper is a professor of Operations Management at UNC-Charlotte. His opinions are his own.