Having gone to sleep a bit earlier than unusual on Monday night I awoke to two news blurbs on Tuesday morning that caught my interest. Armed with those teases I was anxious to read the morning papers. Let’s explore.
The New York Times broke a story late Monday night about Microsoft discovering Russian cyber activity against two conservative organizations, the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, who have taken anti-Trump and anti-Russia stands. (There was also activity aimed at the Senate and Microsoft itself but I won’t cover those today.) It seems that Microsoft traced the activity back to Fancy Bear, the same unit of Russian intelligence that attacked the 2016 elections with the goal of helping elect Donald Trump.
This is more continued evidence of Russian interference in the 2018 election with two purposes in mind: help Donald Trump and make Americans distrust our electoral system thereby letting democracy destroy itself. I am a progressive and therefore a Democrat; it is the only viable option I have in contemporary American politics. That being said, I see the “consumer demand” for a center-right political party in America and the Republican Party is the only viable option for those people. Unfortunately the Tea Party co-opted the GOP in 2010 and then adopted Trump as their leader in 2016. That fringe element, posing as conservatives, is turning the Grand Old Party into a tool of the Trump organized criminal enterprise. That is a danger to America and if not arrested will be the death of the Republican Party. The larger danger is that they perish simultaneously.
My dilemma was physically closer to home, about an hour down the highway to be exact. The statue of Silent Sam was toppled from its perch on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus late Monday evening. For those unfamiliar Chapel Hill is the flagship campus of what for decades has been considered to be the best state university system in the South.
I was conflicted upon reading the blurb. I was happy to see this testament to racism come down but I cannot condone law breaking.
Silent Sam is one of many confederate monuments still prominent in the South. The statue is of a lone confederate soldier supposedly to honor the student who left UNC to join the confederate army and never returned. Why would we honor people who unsuccessfully rebelled against their country? I’m not saying that we forget the history; I just don’t think we should be honoring it with statues on public land.
It was erected in 1913 (during the Jim Crow era) as a dog whistle message to African-Americans to “stay in their place”. Julian Carr was a featured speaker at its unveiling. Carr was a prominent industrialist and an open Ku Klux Klan supporter. He spoke of white supremacy and linked it to the confederate soldiers. Then he told a story that proves his racist intent. “One hundred yards from where we stand, less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she publically insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for the protection of the University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers.”
The statue has been controversial for some time. Its disposition was complicated by a 2015 law passed by the radical right North Carolina General Assembly and signed by then Republican Governor Pat McCrory that prohibits the taking down of public statues without the express permission of the North Carolina Historical Commission.
For you fiscal conservatives here are a few things to consider. According to a July 2018 report by the Raleigh News & Observer UNC- Chapel Hill had already spent over $390,000 on Silent Sam security. As I pen this article the Raleigh Police Department has stationed officers to protect the confederate monuments on state building grounds in downtown Raleigh (the state capital).
Just doing a “back of the envelope calculation” I figure for the money spent on security to protect racist monuments we could have provided four year scholarships including room and board to four North Carolina students to attend their state’s flagship university. You tell me what was a better use of money? My opinion is: invest in the future of young people who may end up paying a lot of taxes over their working lifetime. Statues don’t pay any taxes.
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