On Sunday morning, an anonymous group of 17 faculty members decided to take the Silent Sam issue into their own hands. The self-proclaimed “group of 17” delivered an ultimatum to Chancellor Folt via e-mail: remove the statue by March 1st at midnight, or we will do it ourselves.
Exactly when the group would act, however, is undetermined. According to the email, the statue may be taken down within the hour, week, or month of the deadline, and could happen at any time from early in the morning to the middle of the night.
Although deciding to remain anonymous, the group claims to not fear arrest and the inevitable repercussions, which would include losing their anonymity. This perplexing contradiction of cause and effect has left some thinking the email is a hoax, and the university has been unable to confirm its validity.
The motivation for their action lies in the professors’ desires to remove the statue that, in their interpretation, is a monument to white supremacy and places the well being of students and staff in jeopardy.
Indeed, these professor gone rogue are acting from their self-anointed perch on the moral high ground. According to them, the existence of the statue is wrong and removing it is right. There is no middle ground. If you disagree, you are a bigot.
While what these faculty members are doing seems pleasant at face value, the logic behind their argument for the statue’s removal is dubious if not entirely fallacious.
The second paragraph in the initial message sent to the chancellor states, “The proudest moments of the university have been when Carolina is on the right side of history. Not cowed by bigots, intimidated by white supremacists or fearful of retribution.” In other words, not only is removing the statue unquestionably just, but the only reason the statue remains is due to the action or threat of action from white supremacists, whoever they are, and not state law. It is a classic liberal strawman argument.
In the succeeding paragraph, the group cites the official policy of the university, which, simply put, proclaims the university an inclusive and welcoming environment dedicated to maintaining a campus free from discrimination, harassment, and related misconduct. Silent Sam’s existence, according to the group, is a direct breach of this policy, because it “is an ever-present signal to students, faculty, and staff of color that they are not welcome nor equally valued on campus.” Never mind that this interpretation of the statue’s purpose and effect is wildly subjective, but the argument is based entirely on anecdotal evidence and not any type of provable, statistical reality.
These anonymous professors believe that what they are doing falls within their “charge of pastoral care” as faculty members. Apparently they can think of no better way to provide guidance to young minds than to attempt to show them it is okay to break the law when things do not go your way as long as you think what you are doing is right
Whether or not this e-mail is real or a hoax is yet to be seen. It seems unlikely that the University will act if the e-mail’s legitimacy remains unproven. However, the March 1st deadline is approaching quickly, so expect to hear more about this story as the week goes on.