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June 02, 2015


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So, does Eric want the building to be dedicated to a forthright and detailed attack on Saunders, simply because it was named for Saunders?

Or, perhaps this detailed indictment on a plaque posted on the formerly named Saunders Hall should be directed at the society of two generations later that so honored Saunders?

Or, perhaps this detailed indictment should be directed at the society of America in general, and in toto, and the posted on a plaque on the formerly named Saunders Hall.

Or, perhaps this detailed indictment should be written by Eric, and used to attack every evil and injustice in human history chosen solely by him, not generally, but specifically.

What comes through in Eric's piece is an angry and vindictive stance. How ashamed would Lincoln be?

Al Brophy

Anon, I have a different take on this from you. I don't see the anger in this piece that you do. And I'll let Eric generally speak for himself.

I would like to join the conversation. My preference would be to keep the name on the building and thus invite more discussion of who Saunders was (and I'd hope for a placement inside the building of a plaque detailing who Saunders was, but more importantly, why people in 1920s North Carolina viewed the Klan as positive). However, as is obvious, the people in power didn't listen to me and we've now renamed, so I think Eric's apt point is that we should have an acknowledgment of culpability both of Saunders and of those who made the naming decision in the 1920s. I think the collective judgment is usually the right one and in this case I completely understand that the Trustees didn't want to have a building on this campus named for a leader of the Klan *because* he was a leader of the Klan.

Obviously -- and I've said to anyone who'd listen to me -- a building name can't capture nuance. And I'm glad that our campus is engaged in this discussion and I'm optimistic that the other measures the Board has approved will lead to a lengthy investigation and also efforts at public interpretation.


Please google "list of places named after Robert Byrd" and then read his Wiki bio. Note, especially, the leadership in the Klan, the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act, etc.

His "apologies" were risible, explaining himself solely in terms of his own self interest.

Should each of the dozens of places named after this man (Robert Byrd wasn't even his real name!) be renamed, or, alternatively, should we demand that posting of an angry, vindictive screed about his past on each of these buildings?

I say angry because Eric's anger is palpable. He is ranting about the use of the word "would" ... Please. One can almost see the red face and spitting, etc.

It is less clear whether buildings should be renamed. The Roman practice was to literally erase names from the columns.

THis strikes me as juvenile, but I can understand that folks don't want to "honor" persons who, in the light of history, seem far less than honorable.

Lincoln was the healer. TOday, folks like that are hard to find. Now, it seems like what we have is haters, and I include in that term the self righteous chest thumpers who need to constantly remind everyone of historic injustices and never let anyone heal and reconcile. Peace seems to be never an option for these folks and outrage seems to be their stock in trade.

Everywhere today we see the efforts to rip off the scabs and reopen old wounds (using, sometimes, current events that weakly resemble the cause of those historic injustices). Will renaming a building do this? No, I think. Would putting up a screed like Eric seems to prefer (completely out of place if the building is renamed) do this? Yes. It could have no other purpose.

Eric seems to want a monument to resentment and grievance about historical wrongs. No thanks. Not just because a building was once named for a racist.

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