Tarheel born – a notion that while some waited to adopt after being accepted to the University of North Carolina, I embraced my whole life. I can remember cheering on the heels during every March Madness for over a decade. I cried the day I got my acceptance letter in the mail. I have always stood by my fellow Tarheels no matter their background. After all, we all bleed blue. And yet, I now feel almost embarrassed to be associated with this community.
As everyone on campus, and much of the nation, has heard by now a historic monument was barbarically torn down by protestors on Monday night. The statue, Silent Sam, stood as a tribute to the students who fought in the American Civil War for the Confederate Army. Sam has for a long time been surrounded by controversy as many of the students at UNC claim the "racist" statue is oppressive and detrimental to their way of life. These students, who have the privilege of attending on of the top research universities in the US, felt so threatened by a statue that they resorted to violence to get their way.
I could talk about how the statue is a representation of history, of events that actually took place, and how tearing it down won't change that. Or how as privileged college students they could be spending their time doing something much more productive like perhaps volunteering at the Orange Country Food Bank. You know, supporting a cause that actually benefits those in need. But each of these points have been made time and time again with clearly no affect. I will say this, however – no matter what perceived injustice you're fighting to correct, violence is never the proper recourse.
I recognize that the US is no stranger to racism. Even today, there are still pockets of society that are reminiscent of the Jim Crow Era, although these pockets are few and far between. Truly, I admire those who fought against racist institutions in the US during the mid-twentieth century. Not only were they fighting for a noble cause, they did so respectfully and with dignity. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Let's say, for argument's sake, that I bought into the notion that Silent Sam is a symbol of hatred and white supremacy. Even if this were the case, such violent actions would under no circumstances be warranted. It is for this reason that I am, for the first time in my life, am ashamed of my fellow Tarheels. Not only for the reckless actions taken by a few fanatical protestors against Sam but also for the support they are receiving from the campus community. Regardless of whether you support the removal of Sam or not, such violence should not be condoned.
The destruction of Sam and the response it received also worries me about our school's future. With no more Silent Same to protest, what will the social justice warriors of UNC move onto next? As an arachnophobe, I personally hope it's the newly installed 27 foot spider statue on North Campus. Really though, the possibilities are endless. The Pit, the Old Well, the Bell Tower – all historic symbols of UNC, a university that some claim was founded in and is still afflicted with institutionalized racism. What better way to protest such an injustice than by destroying the remnants of its foundation? You can call me crazy or tell me I'm exaggerating but if you'd gone around campus thirty years ago and asked students if they thought that Silent Sam would be torn down by protestors in their lifetime, they probably would have said no. Change, whether good or bad, can be unpredictable.
In an environment like UNC, so saturated with young minds eager to leave their mark on society, violent protesting can seem almost glamorous. Especially now, given the vocal, positive response to Sam's destruction from fellow Tarheels. The attention, much like a drug, is addicting. After the commotion over Sam calms down the SJWs of our campus will be off searching for their next fix. Where they'll find it next is unknown but sooner or later they will find some injustice to wine about and the violent tactics used on Sam will likely manifest again. It is my only hope that I will have graduated by the time they fix on their next victim.