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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

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

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 sufficiently.

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

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

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 history..."

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.
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