AHI Academic Adviser Peter Coclanis, Albert Ray Newsome Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has weighed in on the “Silent Sam” issue that is embroiling his campus in a recent article in Inside Higher Ed.
Silent Sam is a bronze station of a Confederate soldier erected on the Chapel Hill campus in 1913. In recent years, the statue became a center of controversy with a range of activist voices demanding that it be removed. State law, however, prohibits the removal of the statue without the approval from the North Carolina Historical Commission. In August 2018, crowd of activists pulled down the statue. A decision on what to do with the toppled statue remains undecided by university officials.
In charting a way out of this contentious issue, Coclanis references Edmund Burke’s classic Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), in particular his idea of society as an intergenerational contract.