Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness
Statue smashing is back in the news.
One night last week, University of North Carolina students pulled down “Silent Sam,” a bronze monument to students and faculty of the university who fought as Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.
The bronze figure is portrayed as static, quiet and without ammunition for his gun—and facing northward—apparently a postwar “silent sentinel” impotent, but still defiant.
The Confederate states fought the Civil War to preserve slavery, if not expand it. One can certainly object to the state showcasing an icon that can be seen as inseparable from that evil institution. Yet not all Confederate soldiers thought slavery was their own cause. In North Carolina, about 5 percent of the population, or a quarter of family households, held slaves. The vast majority of the population did not. No doubt some of the non-slaveholding citizenry opposed the idea of indentured servitude. Yet somehow, they squared the circle of fighting for a bad cause by redefining it as protecting their ancestral homeland.