Letters to the Editor

Why removing Silent Sam doesn’t destroy knowledge

Demonstrators rally Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at UNC-Chapel Hill after university officials warned of possible trouble on campus as rumors swirled of a white nationalist rally planned for Wednesday.
Demonstrators rally Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at UNC-Chapel Hill after university officials warned of possible trouble on campus as rumors swirled of a white nationalist rally planned for Wednesday.

Regarding “Recent attacks on Confederate monuments are acts of prejudice” (May 3): Edwin M. Yoder Jr.’s critique of efforts to remove the Silent Sam statue from the campus at UNC- Chapel Hill expresses respect for history, but it misrepresents the realities of historical change and the actual sources of historical knowledge. People have always removed statues that represented regimes or values to which they no longer adhere.

When Americans declared their independence from Britain in 1776, New Yorkers immediately destroyed a statue of King George III. When the French created a republic in the 1790s, they tore down statues of their former kings. Ukrainians recently destroyed statues of Lenin to show their rejection of Communism.

The removal of monuments, however, does not destroy historical knowledge. Historians don’t use statues as sources for historical knowledge. Monuments convey historical interpretations rather than historical facts. Destroying the statues of kings did not destroy the history and memory of colonial America or pre-1789 France. Removing Silent Sam will not destroy historical knowledge or future studies of antebellum North Carolina and the Confederacy.

But moving that statue would clearly affirm that history changes – and we no longer honor the symbols of a racist slave system which was deeply entangled with UNC’s early history and which Confederate armies sought to preserve.

Lloyd Kramer

Chapel Hill

Fight hatred

Regarding “Anti-Semitic, white nationalist posters removed from downtown Durham” (May 2): As non-Jews we cannot remain silent in the face of the anti-Semitic fliers that were scattered throughout Durham and on the campus of Duke University this past week. When such hateful speech infiltrates our communities and neighborhoods we have a responsibility to call it out. As moral people, and as people of different faiths, we must stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are targets of a political and religious ideology that is extremely harmful.

The persecution of Jews is a dark stain on our world’s history. As a part of that world history, our nation has a moral responsibility to help right the injustices that have occurred and to stand against the discrimination of any group of people because of their ethnic or religious identity.

History has shown that our communities are only as strong as their commitment to diversity and the celebration of differences. This includes religious, political, cultural and ethnic differences. We are in a moment in our nation’s history when we must reclaim the ideals and vision for a society where love trumps hate, peace replaces violence, hope dissolves despair, and darkness does not overcome the light.

When we see such hate-filled propaganda as was distributed in Durham this week, we must stand firm, strong and in unity fighting the evils of hatred and violence.

Rev. Dr. Nancy E. Petty

Pastor, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church

Imam Abdullah Antepli

Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs

Duke University

Amazon ‘burdens’

Regarding “Amazon shown 2 sites in Triangle” (May 1): Our schools need more funding. Our firefighters and police need more funding. Raleigh’s roads are crumbling because there are insufficient funds to maintain them. Raleigh’s water system constantly needs repairs such that taxes need to be raised each year.

It doesn’t make sense then that the area leaders have offered to reduce Amazon’s tax requirements significantly should they come to this area. If they come, it will increase the burden on our schools, firefighters, police, roads and water system. Something just does not compute.

What would make more sense would be for Amazon to offer to come without incentives or better yet, offer additional funds to offset the burdens that the region would incur should they come.

Alan L. Tharp

Raleigh

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