Another Silent Sam Letter

25 Jul 2013

Now and then I mix it up with bozos who think that there are serious calls to remove the Silent Sam statue from UNC.

My first letter about Silent Sam this year

Published June 22nd

Understanding Sam

The effort to increase awareness of the historical meaning of Silent
Sam elicited four interesting letters in last Sunday’s CHN.

Ariana Mangum believes that “Silent Sam should stay,” apparently
unaware that the Real Silent Sam organization agrees with her!

Yelena Francis remembers how communist dictators tore down statues of
Russian czars and seems to think that the Real Silent Sam movement
wants to tear down the statue of Silent Sam. (She’s mistaken.) I
wonder if she worried about “rewriting history” when the statues of
communist leaders were torn down? OK, I don’t really wonder.

Sybil Austin Skakle wants us to understand exactly what Silent Sam
“was meant to be.” She seems to believe that the statue was erected
purely to commemorate UNC’s war dead, paying no attention to the fact
that it was erected over 40 years after the war. If she’s interested
in knowing why it was build at that time, I urge her to read the
commemorative speech by James Carr, who raised the money to build the
monument: his words will reveal some of the “real” motives behind the
statue. Those poor kids who were used to fight the war were being used
once again when that statue was built.

Give credit to James Ward for at least realizing that the Real Silent
Sam movement wants to add a plaque to the statue, not remove it. He
heard someone say the word “evil” and concludes that there are plans
to write that on the plaque. I don’t know what the wording will be on
the plaque any more than he does, but I’m pretty sure that a plaque
will improve our understanding of our history.

George Entenman

I’m attacked in a long guest column

Here’s the column:

By Sven Sonnenberg

I was sorry to see that in Mr. Entenman’s letter that he did not
understand Ms. Francis’s message or did not reflect on it

In her letter, Ms. Francis gives an example of the results when
political correct zealots get to work suppressing or
falsifying/modifying the past, and she is concerned that this does not
happen to America − “the improving of our understanding of history.”
Improve the schools and teach real history, not politically correct
pap so that the grownups and graduates of universities do not have to
bend over and get their knowledge from plaques.

In further answering Mr. Entenman (CHN, June 23,, I
would say, “let’s be ridiculous” and, following this “logic,” let’s be
consistent in our effort to be ridiculously politically correct. God
forbid insulting one or another group of population, so let’s place a
plaque wherever we can.

Let’s start from the Jefferson Memorial and place a plaque there with
some inscription like “We respect this man in spite of him being from
the family of rich plantation owners. His relatively luxurious life
was all provided by the cruel exploitation of the slaves. And on top
of everything, according to the rumors, one of them was the mother of
his children in his later years, so, it might be sexual exploitation
involved, too.” For political correct balance there should be a plaque
erected on the wall of the Thomas Jefferson memorial.

Let’s be further consistent. Let’s then go to the George Washington
monument. There should be a plaque on it saying he was one of the
richest men in Virginia and the owner of plantations, and numerous
people were working for free on his land. Probably we should write
about Washington’s bad relations with the Indians and different ideas
he had about the territories, which historically belonged to the
indigenous population. Let’s be politically correct and place those
plaques all over the country – who knows, who and how can be offended
with what and because of which reason?

And what about Theodore Roosevelt with his famous “Speak softy and
carry a big stick, and you will go far”? I bet everyone remembers his
participation in the infamous safari in 1909 when hundreds of rare
species of animals were killed under false pretence to supply the
national museums with exhibits (and how many were consumed by the
participants of that shameful expedition, nobody knows: it looks like
there was not a single vegetarian there.)

By the way, when running around the country installing plaques
explaining past sins of the people the historical monuments were
dedicated to, we should not forget Mount Rushmore. Let’s go there
straight to install a big joint plaque to all those guys together in
toto. Would it not be cheaper, Mr. Entenman?

Letter to the editor, submitted July 25, 2013

It’s 1913, in the middle of the night, and a group of UNC workers have just brought a heavy load to McCorkle Place in a rented Mule-Haul. It’s the statue of a Confederate soldier. Quietly they place it on a pedestal, facing North, his rifle ready. The workers steal off into the night, leaving Silent Sam to greet the rising sun.

When the citizenry woke up, they found the new statue and knew that it simply represented the students who had fought for the Confederacy.

This of course is not what happened. In the UNC library you can find a 20-page speech by James Carr, the man who raised funds for the statue. He read these words when he dedicated Silent Sam.

Unlike the writers of the impassioned letters and recent op-ed in the CHN, James Carr knew that the statue did not simply honor students who had served during the war. Yet some people are aghast at a recent proposal to put a new plaque on the statue, a plaque which would “thoroughly explain the context in which the monument was erected.” This plaque would discuss race.

People opposed to the plaque claim that the statue has nothing to do with race. History, they believe, shows that the statue simply honors war veterans.

Why don’t we let James Carr himself settle the matter? He raised the money for the statue. He dedicated it. Who better than Carr to explain the history behind Silent Sam?

I propose that the plaque have the following sentences from pp 9-B and 9-C of James Carr’s dedication speech:

The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the
Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race during
the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are, their
courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in
the South — when the 'bottom rail was on top' all over the Southern
states — and to-day, as a consequence, the purist strain of the Anglo
Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States — Praise God.

I trust that I may be pardoned for one allusion, howbeit it is rather
personal.  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 had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then
rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed
100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate
presence of the entire garrison, and for thirty nights afterwards slept
with double-barreled shotgun under my head.

Of course Silent Sam was intended to honor Confederate soldiers. But that’s not all it was meant to do. The words “succeeding the war” refer to Reconstruction, not the war itself. The words “Anglo Saxon race” are self-explanatory.



My letter was published as a Guest Column on July 30, 2013.

Another stupid reply from Yelena Francis

Published August 2, 2013

Sinners and Sam

After reading Mr. Entenman’s column (CHN, July 31, I was impressed by his passion for research
aimed at heating up divisions in the community.  Funny – the
main reason for deep disgust toward Silent Sam is the
character of the man who initiated its erection, as if the
statue honors not veterans, but the horrible personality of
the racist who raised the money.

Isn’t it ridiculous to dig in the past to judge historical
monuments? Take the Statue of Liberty. Do you know that the
author of “Give me your tired …,” E. Lazarus, was a daughter
of a rich businessman connected to Louisiana sugar cane
plantations? Did you hear that while participating in the
project, G. Eiffel took bribes from the Panama Canal Co. and
was sentenced to two years in prison? And President Cleveland,
who gave a speech at the unveiling, was not a good man: He
paid $150 to someone to replace him in the Army during the
Civil War, and he personally performed executions while being
a sheriff in Erie County. And who collected money for the
statue restoration? Yes, you guessed right – Mr. Lee Iacocca,
responsible for a Ford Pinto gas tank design that resulted in
burning to death a few people.

Can you compare one sinner behind Silent Sam with the crowd of
above-mentioned rascals?

Mr. Entenman’s column is a well-calculated political
provocation. I wish that instead of activists’ gatherings
around Silent Sam calling for removal of the “shameful
monument to old Southern racism,” the students could use their
time studying history.

Yelena Francis

Chapel Hill

She’s really incapable of reading that the Real Silent Sam coalition does not want to tear down the statue.

The problem with the letter is the big lie: just repeat a lie long enough and people will believe it. But I’m tired of answering her.

I commented on Francis’ letter

The comments may not have been approved.

Both Yelena Francis and Sven Sonnenberg think they're providing
arguments against understanding the history of Silent Sam.  What are
these arguments?  That there are lots of terrible historical facts
about the Statue of Liberty, George Washington, etc.  How in the world
does this argue against knowing the history of Silent Sam?

Ms Francis actually says, "Isn’t it ridiculous to dig in the past to
judge historical monuments?"

No, it is not.

The main danger of Francis' letter is that repeating a lie often
enough makes people think that the lie is the truth.  She says that
unspecified "activists" are calling for the removal of Silent Sam.

If you want to know what they are calling for, go to the website
( of the Real Silent Sam coalition,
where you will read: "Our intent is not to remove monuments or revise

I'm tired of stating this simple fact in letters to the CHN, but
Francis' willful refusal to understand simple English compels me to
write this comment at least.