“Silent Sam” and the Fetid Disaster Known as Public Education
Demonstrations by the unruly minions of cultural Marxism continue on the campus of the University of North Carolina.
While our television sets are filled with videos of scraggly, rough-bearded and unkempt Millenial men, and obese and definitely unattractive women, screaming profanities and shouting imprecations about racism, white supremacy, and the dangers of “fascism”—that is, demonstrating for “peace and justice”—there lurks behind those images a deeper, even scarier truth.
Many in the mob of August 20th who toppled the “Silent Sam” monument to University of North Carolina students who volunteered to become Confederate soldiers in 1861-1865—and many who came back on Saturday the 25th—were non-students, itinerant professional militants of various Marxist, Antifa, and Black Lives movements. But many also were students at that institution. And students who have absorbed supposedly the finest public education that money (and mommy and daddy) can buy at one of the most prestigious universities in the South.
There was, for example, student Margarita Sitterson, the granddaughter of former Chancellor of the university, J. Carlyle Sitterson, who boasted of her presence in the lawlessness of August 20th and her active participation in tearing down the monument:
“So basically what happened was there was four banners on each side – well actually one banner on each side, and they were all connected by sticks, and people wrapped rope around the sticks and we pulled back and forth and back and forth until it fell down.” [Peter Abrosca, “Granddaughter of Former UNC Chancellor Admits to Tearing Down Confederate Statue, ‘Silent Sam’,” Big League Politics, August 20, 2018.
Sitterson added: “My grandfather – he went here for college, then he became a professor, then he became a dean [inaudible], then he became chancellor.”
“Sitterson said she was ashamed and that she carried guilt because she is white, and white people owned slaves.”
Notice the narrative: it is an absorbed instructional template and standard that is employed in nearly all university courses about our history, our literature, our politics, and in most other courses taught to our children; it dominates almost totally the curricula of our universities and colleges, just as the University of Alabama Crimson Tide has dominated college football. It posits two measures by which all human history and experience, all human knowledge and expression, are evaluated and, then, (re)interpreted: racial oppression by the white race of black and brown people, and sexual oppression by men of women.
Thus, re-interpreting our history and culture to discover sometimes deeply embedded examples of “racism” and “white supremacy,” and of “male exploitation” and “oppression of women,” has become the central characteristic of our college curricula, the marker and measure by which all academic disciplines now are analyzed and taught.
Analyze a Shakespeare play…say Richard III or The Merchant of Venice; then look for the abasement and “enslavement” of women, or a hidden “racist” reference or overtone—obviously, since Shakespeare was male and white. Or consider operas by Mozart (Abduction from the Seraglio) or Rossini (L’Italiana in Algeri), with their “overt racist hostility to Muslims and women,” such that now in Europe these works are either no longer presented or are banned outright, or their lyrics and action re-written. And, closer to our time, think of the attempts to ban The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, “Gone With the Wind,” and the Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris.
And when these works are discussed in our universities, or portrayed publicly, increasingly it is done with re-interpretations, studied warnings about the implicit racism and misogyny that modern scholarship has discovered in them. Indeed, the very language and traditional expression used to analyze the history and the classic products, the art, and culture of our civilization, have been radically altered, with a whole new, made-up linguistics now employed which effectively cuts us off from the past, while furthering the goals of revolution.
Obviously, students like Margarita Sitterson—the descendant of a famed UNC educator—and thousands more like her, sitting in classes at the mercy of cultural Marxist ideologue professors who do little more than inculcate the theories of “critical race theory” and the “feminization of history”—have already, in most cases, suffered years of poor education and early indoctrination in our public high schools, that is, been “softened up” for this process before entering college.
These are the same students who, while able to describe in excruciating detail what they have been fed about the “racism” and “white oppression” supposedly existent in the United States circa 2018, and the onerous “exploitation of women,” cannot read basic texts or pass basic exams in math, or in English, or in history.
In late 2016 Dr. Walter Williams, the black educator, wrote that “a very large percentage of all incoming freshmen have no business being admitted to college.” On the major College Board test,
“Only 32 percent of white students scored at or above proficient in math, and just 7 percent of black students did. Forty-six percent of white test takers scored proficient in reading, and 17 percent of blacks did. The ACT, another test used for admission to college, produced similar results. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reports, in an article titled "A Major Crisis in College Readiness for Black Students," that 34 percent of whites who took the ACT were deemed college-ready in all four areas — English, mathematics, reading and science. For blacks, it was only 6 percent.” [Dr. Walter E. Williams, “Cruelty to Black Students,” CNS News, September 20, 2016.]
As Professor Williams indicates, it is black students, most of whom are unprepared for college life, who suffered most by being boosted by affirmative action and entitlements. But the results for white high school graduates are equally appalling.
And these form the pool of students whose parents fork over anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 a year to our universities to educate them.
For broader confirmation, consider a parallel choice: a career in the United States military. Under President Trump and his signing of a new defense bill, the armed services are instructed to recruit new enlistees—the US Army alone, about 17,500 new recruits every year.
But there is a problem: in addition to the fact that many potential candidates are obese, as Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley states:
“…one in four cannot meet minimal educational standards (a high school diploma or GED equivalent), and one in 10 have a criminal history. In plain terms, about 71 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds (the military’s target pool of potential recruits) are disqualified from the minute they enter a recruiting station: that’s 24 million out of 34 million Americans… fully 30 percent of those who have the requisite high school diploma or GED equivalent fail to pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test (the AFQT), which is used to determine math and reading skills….” [Mark Perry, “The Recruitment Problem the Military Doesn’t Want to Talk About,” The American Conservative, August 15, 2018.
It is any wonder that a rowdy mob, drenched in cultural Marxist gruel that passes for education—a mob turned into raving lunatics by teachers and college professors who are little more than fanatical ideological agents of continuing revolution—now seeks to destroy Confederate symbols and soon to obliterate anything reminding them or us of twenty centuries Western Christian, and yes, white and largely male, culture?
The administrators at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, like the administrators at most colleges throughout the land, have yet to understand this; indeed, many sympathize with the lunatics. And too many political and civic leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand, look the other way, or hope the “problem” will just go away.
But it won’t, for it is like a rapidly-spreading cancer that must be excised and removed…else it kill the host body.
The UNC Board of Governors meets soon to examine what happened at UNC. They must understand that we are in a multilevel cultural war, and on the outcome of this war depends the very existence of our culture and our identity as a civilization.
Note: This piece was originally published on My Corner on August 26, 2018.
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.