Carol Swain Commentary: The Destruction of Silent Sam

by Carol M. Swain


American philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Those words are worth remembering. As a 1989 alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I am appalled how, on August 20, 2018, law-enforcement officers stood down while anarchists, euphemistically referred to as more noble-sounding “protesters,” destroyed the statue of “Silent Sam.” Silent Sam was a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier commissioned by the Daughters of the Confederacy and gifted to the University in 1913.  Three people arrested following the heinous act of vandalism were charged with misdemeanors.

Officials made a serious mistake in judgment when they failed to preserve Silent Sam and the part of our nation’s heritage he represented. By not enforcing laws against vandalism, police were complicit in the destruction of public property. But behind all this stands a rather common culprit – the ubiquitous Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

In 2016, the SPLC released a report titled “Whose Heritage?”. The report “cataloged 1,503 monuments, place names, state holidays, and other symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces across the South and Nation.” TheSPLC updated its numbers in June 2018, to 1,728 such symbols. By publishing the locations of the symbols, the SPLC had conducted the research that made it easier for anarchists to destroy such symbols. Denying such intent doesn’t get the SPLC off the hook; the bait was set.

Those who seek to destroy Confederate symbols see them as markers of white supremacy rather than artifacts of our shared national history. In August 2017, the SPLC drafted a letter encouraging people to demand the removal of the monuments and symbols to avoid violence such as what occurred in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. In Charlottesville, anarchists played a significant role in the conflict-enforcement officers stood down yet failed to separate anarchists from protesters who had valid permits to be there. Three lives were lost in the process.

If we ignore the violent destruction of public and private property because such symbols “offend” some people who claim moral superiority over others, we increase the likelihood that a future generation will follow suit and yank down the symbols lauded by the current generation’s cultural elites. This sort of thing always works both ways.

America is in grave danger of descending into a totalitarian society governed by the Political Left. Nineteen Eighty-Four, a book authored in 1949 by George Orwell, has proven itself prescient. Orwell wrote, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Nothing is sacred, not even our Constitution.

Orwell’s classic book depicts the fictional state of Oceania. Oceania is a totalitarian society in which “Big Brother” watches every move, and thought police lurk around every corner. Winton Smith, the protagonist, notes, “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Unless we get a grip and resist the self-righteousness of the anarchists, who are nothing but modern-day American terrorists, we will descend into the broken and miserable society described by Orwell. The Marxists, who have always wanted to deconstruct and destroy America, will have won, and they will have done so by strategically using and manipulating the pain and suffering of racial minorities and the disaffected groups that Marxist professor Herbert Marcuse knew held the potential to destroy America. Who among us will stand up and fight back?

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Carol M. Swain is a former professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University. Facebook: Profcarolmswain  Twitter: @carolmswain E-mail: [email protected] Website:








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