Opinion

Silent Sam doesn’t represent poor UNC students. It represents a lie.

The rise and fall of Silent Sam

Silent Sam has stood on UNC-Chapel Hill's McCorkle Place for 105 years. On Monday August 20, 2018, it was brought down by protesters.
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Silent Sam has stood on UNC-Chapel Hill's McCorkle Place for 105 years. On Monday August 20, 2018, it was brought down by protesters.

Kevin Lewis declared Silent Sam a “masterpiece of art” that represented the sad, isolated, average soldier (“Silent Sam is not just a symbol; it’s a masterpiece of art,” Oct. 29). Eunice Brock (“Silent Sam redeemed,” Oct 31) expanded on both of these ideas, saying that it was a “mob” that tore down this “beautiful piece of art.” What she saw in Silent Sam was “a poor, young man without slaves.”

The UNC students to whom the statue was dedicated were not poor. Some of them brought slaves to school to serve their personal needs. Some of those slaves were buried in unmarked graves in the slave section of the UNC cemetery.

The “poor soldier” argument is part of the familiar theme that the South was the victim of Northern aggression. Silent Sam was one of thousands of monuments dedicated to the lie that there was something noble about this war against the Northern invaders. The truth was that the war was initiated by the slave-owning elite and it was absolutely intended to preserve and expand slavery.

It wasn’t an uncouth mob, incapable of appreciating fine art, that tore down Silent Sam. The whole thing was an outstanding act of performance art — the symbolic pulling down of that abysmal thing called Racism.

Jerry Carr

Chapel Hill

ID law

In the past four weeks I have been required to show a state- issued, valid photo ID to:

Take my grandchild out of her school early, fly on a domestic airplane, purchase a beer in Atlanta, check into a hotel, close on a land transaction, revise my will, get a flu shot at my doctor’s office, pickup tickets for a sporting event, use my credit card at a store, pickup an online purchase at a store, but I will not need one to vote Tuesday?

North Carolina is kidding itself. We must do more to protect against potential voting fraud. I cannot understand why this is not a requirement to vote and other forms of valid state IDs are not more readily available. We must do more to protect the integrity of all votes. Voter fraud is occurring in this state, and will continue to without additional safeguards.

David Bond

Raleigh

Necessary changes

Indications are that the recent mass shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh will trigger the same old, ineffectual responses as previous mass shootings. We mourn the victims and pray for their families. More people will buy guns for self-protection. Armed guards will be stationed at more facilities. Lawmakers may enact harsher punishment for shooters. There may be demonstrations again where concerned citizens will vent their anger about our government’s and legislature’s failure to enforce stricter gun controls.

All of this has little or no effect.

We cannot legislate would-be shooters out of existence, so we must curtail the availability of guns and ban guns designed to kill a maximum number of people in a minimum of time. We must elect representatives who have the political will and courage to prohibit the possession of assault weapons and to allow ownership of guns only for people who need them for specified legitimate purposes. Like car owners are required to have drivers licenses, gun owners should be required to pass a test to show their ability to handle guns responsibly.

Bill Grothmann

Raleigh

Affordable textbooks

On Oct. 30, UNC Student Government secured a huge win for college affordability by taking efforts to remove barriers to an education at Carolina. Student government passed an impactful resolution to formally support the adoption of Open Education Resources (OERs). OERs are one phenomenal solution to the college debt problem because they provide students with free, online textbooks that are both searchable and customizable, while also being of the same quality as expensive textbooks.

OERs are desperately needed on campus because the average UNC student is required to spend almost $1,000 on textbooks per year according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Due to only five publishers controlling 80 percent of the textbook market, textbook prices are expected to further increase.

While this resolution is an incredible step in making Carolina affordable, faculty members must commit to adopting OERs. Faculty members who adopt OERs could significantly reduce or eliminate their courses’ cost without sacrificing on educational quality.

Kent McKane

Chapel Hill

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