Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Mob Tears Down Silent Sam

This was, of course, just a matter of time.
   I've always had mixed feelings about Silent Sam. I have mixed feelings about Confederate monuments in general. I certainly think removing Silent Sam, in particular, would have been a defensible course of action...if done by the university after due deliberation and in an official way. Given, however, that a mob tore it down, I think the university needs to spend whatever it takes to put the statue back up and protect it. Then the discussion can continue, and we can discuss, say, moving it to Wilson library or something. I currently kinda like the idea of taking Confederate monuments off of their pedestals and adding plaques or monoliths that explain their history.* Though that's just brainstorming, really. But it seems to me that bringing them down to ground level would change things importantly. Anyway, I think this sort of thing is experimental. You can't just figure it all out a priori. I also recognize that the opinions of the descendants of slaves are crucially important in our decision. I certainly see the case for just plain removing them. I think I'd draw a line at destroying them. I certainly draw a line at this kind of mob lunacy that's all the rage on the tolerant and progressive left.
   How long before, say, the Jefferson statue at UVa comes down? Dunno. At this rate, of course, it'll happen. If I had to bet, I might bet that that line won't be crossed during the current spasm of PC--but that it'll happen no later than the next one. That is, assuming this one ends. I'm supposing that this phase of PC will be tamped down like the last one was in the mid-90s, when liberals got sick of the crazy and stopped defending the anti-liberal left. I'm also assuming that an even crazier spasm will come along a decade or two later--and most liberals will remain silent, cowed, until a lot of damage is already done, and more is in the offing. But who knows? Liberals have, thus far, made nary a peep about the evolving totalitarianism this time around. So maybe we're counting down to Year Zero. Then all the statues can come down! And then...
   This slope is genuinely slippery--slippery as hell, in fact. Though Silent Sam is a particular and special case. So that's something too.

*In the case of Silent Sam, this would be truly damning. But it is what it is. Truth matters. In this case, that would probably be a more direct indictment than removal. The Carr speech is, of course, what makes this case...particular... The 2015 anti-removal law also complicates things. This case is a mess all around.


Anonymous John Plato said...

It's the abandonment of law enforcement and legal consequence for crimes conducted in the throes of ecstatic progressivism that troubles me. The police were in a perimeter surrounding the statue, so why did they not prevent the ropes from being attached in the first place? Was it incompetence or deliberate nonintervention? When they saw the ropes being pulled, a gradual process that, from what I can tell, occurred with increasing vigor over about a minute or so, why didn't they step in to stop it? Answers would be nice at this point, although these are questions the media doesn't seem interested in asking.

The statement (such as it is) from the Chancellor at UNC praises the police for their actions taken to "ensure the community's safety", which I read as an endorsement of police inaction and surrender of public space to the mob's will under the guise of keeping people "safe".

It's also troubling to see those who actually pulled down the statue described as "protesters" or "demonstrators" in nearly all mainstream news coverage. (CNN, "UNC protesters knock down Silent Sam Confederate statue"; CBS News, "Protesters knock down controversial 'Silent Sam' Confederate statue at UNC campus"; USA Today, "Confederate statue, known as 'Silent Sam,' toppled by protesters on UNC campus; etc.) The NYT's lede is "Protesters toppled the towering Confederate monument at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday," but their headline is even worse: "‘Silent Sam’ Confederate Monument Is Toppled at University of North Carolina." Toppled by whom? Again, this kind of passive-voiced mush would get you a failing grade in JOUR1001. "Vandals" is probably the correct word, as it would be if alt-right agitators pulled down the statue of MLK, Jr. at the Georgia State Capitol. "Vandals topple Confederate 'Silent Sam' statue at UNC protest" is the headline I'd have have gone with.

Despite the UNC Chancellor's gentle reminder that mob destruction of private property still remains vestigially against the law, I will be surprised if anyone is punished or prosecuted in a meaningful way. Her statement assures us that "the police are assessing the full extent of the damage", but what is the price tag on the destruction of civil process and the rule of law?

Many protesters gave moving speeches about why Silent Sam must come down. But devolving into competing mobs will only lead to tragedy.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I'm with you, JP.

Honestly, one of the first hypotheses that came to mind this morning was that the administration wanted Silent Sam gone, and decided to be passive enough to bring that about.

But, OTOH, campus cops are pretty much *always* walking on eggshells. I remember a deer got hit by a car right in front of Caldwell hall back in the day (this would have been about 1990). It was clearly done for, but some students were hamming up their hippy-Earth-Mother/Father role, petting it as it very...slowly...died. There was a campus cop there, and I asked him (not an exact quote): *Can't you just shoot it and put it out of its misery?* I mean, back home we'd certainly never have let an animal suffer like that. The cop says (also not an exact quote) *I wish I could, but you cannot imagine the shitstorm that will occur if I discharge my gun on campus.*

Anyway. I agree. This is not good.

7:37 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home