Would there be statues if honorees must be perfect?


Raymond E. Bumgardner

Saturday, October 21, 2017

In the Sunday, Oct. 8 edition of The Daily Advance there was an article about slavery ties at some universities. The article was accompanied by a photograph of about 18 people holding up a sign that read “SILENCE SAM” and the name of an organization which was apparently dedicated to that purpose.

I wondered at the time how many of the people in that photograph were at that university because of a scholarship. I wondered, too, considering the enterprise in which they are now engaged, how many of them must have been familiar with such phrases as “gift horse” and “bite the hand.” How many of them would be in college at all if it hadn’t been for such men as Julian Carr and Charles Aycock and John Calhoun and Thomas Jefferson!

Another thought: If those people don’t like the college they’re attending why don’t they attend one in which they can be pleased? There’s such a one here in Elizabeth City. It never received a single donation from a slave-owning philanthropist. It doesn’t have any streets or buildings on campus named for any such men. It doesn’t have any Confederate memorials or monuments or statues on campus. And the students could spend their time studying instead of demonstrating ... unless, of course, finding something about which to demonstrate is their main objective.

There seems to be a tendency among some people today to search the lives of people who’ve been honored for having done good things by trying to find a reason to remove their names from buildings, streets, etc., because of things in their lives which were not, in this “modern” age, considered to have been exemplary.

If we do not honor those people, who do we honor? Are there any people anywhere whose lives are so perfect that they can be given the honors which would be taken away from the de-sanctified ones? Those protesters, are there any of them who would — or could — meet their own requirements for sainthood? Are we to judge yesterday’s heroes by today’s standards? Is forgiveness passe?

The article stated that Georgetown and Harvard universities have acknowledged or apologized for slavery ties. Who among the living is authorized to apologize for the deeds or words of people now long dead? And how did they receive such an authority?

Raymond E. Bumgardner

Elizabeth City