In response to the toppling in August of the Confederate Monument at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chancellor Carol Folt and other UNC leaders have proposed a controversial solution: a new $5.3 million building on campus that will cost $800,000 a year to operate.

Some are outraged that Silent Sam will be returning to UNC at all, as one of the exhibits in the new University History and Education Center. Others, inclined to defend the state’s Civil War heritage, dislike the idea of relocating the monument to a less-traveled corner of the campus. And taxpayers across the political spectrum are aghast at the multi-million-dollar cost.

North Carolinians ought to be outraged at that price tag — and the reason for it.

As the new report outlining the proposal makes clear, UNC considers itself quite literally besieged by radicals — many motivated by causes far afield from racial comity or historical accuracy, such as anti-capitalist revolution — who are willing “to use violence to further their political goal,” as one official put it.

Returning Silent Sam to its pedestal, the UNC team concluded, would produce repeated clashes with violent protesters that would pose constant threats to life, limb, and property.

The report further concluded that “the capability of the UNC-Chapel Hill Campus Police Department to prevent civil disorder and violence is very limited.”

Although this observation was made without criticism, as a general statement about the inadequacy of campus law enforcement across the country, it rings a bit hollow for anyone who watched the video of Silent Sam’s toppling.

Police officers did nothing to stop what was essentially a slow-motion crime happening before their eyes. Indeed, they seemed intentionally to stand back from it.

Why? Again, the report offered some clues. For one thing, because state universities are open to the public and routinely the site of nonviolent protests of various kinds, normal campus operations are poorly suited to the task of combatting the likes of cadres of masked anarchists with ropes and torches. The “crowd control tactics generally employed by law enforcement” to handle such threats “are fraught with sensitivities over any use of force by police” in places such as Chapel Hill.

For another thing, the protesters in question didn’t just show up with demolition equipment. “There was obvious evidence of preplanning and tactics that were designed to instigate violence between protest groups or draw an overreaction from law enforcement,” the report stated. “Objects such as smoke bombs, poles, frozen water bottles, paint balloons and metal objects were used by demonstrators as weapons.”

You have likely heard and will continue to hear lots of discussion about Julian Carr’s appalling speech at Silent Sam’s unveiling, what historical artifacts mean to various audiences today, the role of the state legislature in limiting the relocation of monuments, and alternative ways the university could have used the millions of dollars it proposes to spend on the University History and Education Center (a concept, by the way, that has been on the drawing board for years).

But the immediate issue is the rule of law itself. Those desiring an alternative home for Silent Sam, or none at all, had a range of reasonable options available. They could have continued to press lawmakers to change the controlling statutes.

If they truly believed the continued existence of the monument created a hostile educational environment under federal law, they could have sued. Or they could have brought greater public attention to their cause by engaging in true civil disobedience, such as sitting or standing around the monument and inviting arrest.

Instead, a mob took the law into its own hands, committing crimes while endangering participants and bystanders alike. Law enforcement was either powerless, unmotivated, or not allowed to stop the mob.

Silent Sam’s proposed new home will not be a shrine, as some critics have labeled it. It will be a fortress, built to fend off physical attack. Does that anger you? It should. As should the attackers who created this mess.

John Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation and appears on “NC SPIN,” broadcast statewide Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on UNC-TV.

(6) comments

Mark Hayes

A greater concern for some of these offended students, the article of Nov, 30, 2018 that was in the News & Observer by J. Davis Winkie.

Judi Rhodes

Excellent column by John Hood. I had written a letter to the paper trying to say almost exactly the same things, but I couldn't squeeze the thoughts into 300 words. This is a sad time for Carolina and the lunatic anarchists are truly running the asylum. The University lost control when the Keystone Cops allowed the anarchists to topple the statue. I doubt if normalcy will ever return.

William Dean

Both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Durham county are in violation of North Carolina law. If we had an Attorney General with a spine, people would be charged. The Durham judge and Chapel Hill DA should both be fired for allowing their race to interfere with the enforcement of laws. The coward Chief of police at UNC-CH and Chapel Hill police chief should be fired for doing nothing during a riot that destroyed state property.
G.S. 100-2.1 § 100-2.1. Protection of monuments, memorials, and works of art.
(a)
Approval Required.– Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section,
a monument, memorial, or work of art owned by the State may not be removed, relocated, or altered in any way without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission.
(b)Limitations on Removal.– An object of remembrance located on public property may not be permanently removed and may only be relocated, whether temporarily or permanently, under the circumstances listed in this subsection and subject to the limitations in this subsection. An object of remembrance that is temporarily relocated shall be returned to its original location within 90 days of completion of the project that required its temporary removal. An object of
remembrance that is permanently relocated shall be relocated to a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access that are within the boundaries of the jurisdiction from which it was relocated. An object of remembrance may not be relocated to a museum, cemetery, or mausoleum unless it was originally placed at such a location. As used in this section, the term
"object of remembrance" means a monument, memorial, plaque, statue, marker, or display of a permanent character that commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina's history. The circumstances under which an object of remembrance may be relocated are either of the following:
(1)When appropriate measures are required by the State or a political subdivision
of the State to preserve the object.
(2)When necessary for construction, renovation, or reconfiguration of buildings,
open spaces, parking, or transportation projects.

The law clearly states that both should have been returned to original locations within 90 days. They have failed to do that. The building of a building to hide Silent Sam in is also a violation. The law says that it should be as visible to the public as it was. Once again showing that liberals only want to follow the laws they want to follow. Everyone has a right to be offended but you do not have a right to destroy what might offend your bleeding snowflake heart.

Kent Misegades

UNC-CH is a zoo of wacky leftists and has been for decades. Why not just follow former Senator Helms’ good suggestion and put a tall fence around it - to keep the Taliban anarchists inside and away from the rest of us?

Jim Tomashoff

Melt it.

Peyton Cook

You must be a Yankee. Silent Sam honors the men of North Carolina who served in the Confederacy. Most states who had men serving in the Civil War have such memorials. Why not North Carolina?

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