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Lawmakers seek to protect Confederate monuments

Posted July 15, 2015

— Counties, cities and universities would have to get permission from state lawmakers to remove or replace state-owned monuments or memorials under a bill expected on the House floor next week.

The measure passed the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Bill 22 would create a new classification of state-owned monuments called "objects of remembrance," defined as 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 proposal would forbid the permanent removal of any such object on public property unless the legislature passes a law to that effect. Monuments could be relocated only for preservation work or to make way of construction, roads, parking or open space, and they must then be relocated to a "site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access" and must not be moved to a museum, cemetery or mausoleum.

For example, would ban University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill leaders from removing the "Silent Sam" Confederate soldier statue from campus grounds, as some students have demanded.

Sponsor Sen. Daniel Soucek, R-Watauga, said the bill would set up a uniform process for the management of the state's historical artifacts.

"How do we respectfully preserve the history of our state without going up and down on public opinion on a specific issue?" Soucek said. "Being at a state level is a more appropriate way to deal with it than having knee-jerk reactions."

Rep. Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland, took issue with Soucek's characterization of the current controversy over Confederate memorials as "knee-jerk," adding dryly, "It's been on my radar a long time."

"Can you help me to be satisfied that there are no memorials or works of art within the state that may be reprehensible or sometimes disrespectful to classes of people?" Lucas asked Soucek.

"What is reprehensible and disrespectful is sometimes a matter of personal opinion," Soucek responded.

"What always comes to mind anybody could be offended by anything," added Rep. Gary Pendleton, R-Wake.

"This bill has nothing to do with what's happened over the Confederate flag," committee Chairman Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, said, "but I think that’s a good reason why we need something like this to stave off the flames of passion. Because once an item is destroyed, an item is removed, a historical item, it’s gone."

Speciale said state lawmakers would be more deliberative than local officials about the issue.

"We’re supposed to be the ones not to get caught up in the fad of the moment," he said.

But Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, said that's exactly why House leaders should not take up the bill right now.

"We're in a time when the flames of passion, as you've pointed out, are roaring, and I think, when you're in that moment, the right thing to do is to have effective civil dialogue about how our country and our state want to proceed," Meyer said.

Lucas urged the committee to look toward the future instead.

"We can't do a thing about the past. I don't think we need to dwell on it that much," he said with emotion. "We ought to be looking to be one North Carolina, and if what one does offends a large segment of the population, a distinct group of the population, one ought to look at that with a jaundiced eye."

But Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, compared efforts to remove Confederate monuments to George Orwell's novel 1984.

"History needs to be retained. You don’t know what you are without your history," Pittman argued. "We need to face it and, like it or not like it, it is what it is, and we shouldn’t be trying to change it. And I don’t think the government has the right to change what history is."

House leaders attempted to put the measure on the floor for a vote Wednesday afternoon, but after protests from Lucas and other Democrats, rescheduled it for next Tuesday.

The measure passed the Senate with little debate back in April. It could be on the governor's desk by the end of next week.

68 Comments

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  • Charlie Watkins Jul 17, 2015
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    The question is who will benefit from the move to eliminate Confederate monuments in the 2016 election.

    If the Democrats think it will help them then they will push it to the max.

    If not the Democrats will lay off until after the 2016 results are in.

    It is all about politics.

  • Sherrill Craig Jul 16, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    Well, that way people will believe NBF is the "bad guy" and thus his place in history needs to be deleted. It serves their purpose the make history totally PC.

  • Gen Lee Jul 16, 2015
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    Nobody wants to tell the whole story, only the bad parts.

  • Sherrill Craig Jul 16, 2015
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    Yes, and he also decried that same organisation. By the end of his life, Forrest's racial attitudes would evolve — in 1875, he advocated for the admission of blacks into law school — and he lived to fully renounce his involvement with the all-but-vanished Klan. A new, different, and much worse Klan would emerge, 35 years after Forrest's death. The second generation KKK was never restricted to the South; its goals had nothing to do with Forrest's vision of a restored Dixie.

    So, if you wish the denigrate the man, please be so kind as to tell the WHOLE story, not just the inflammatory parts,

  • Vinnie Paul Jul 16, 2015
    user avatar

    Once again the "Party of Small Government" is anything but.

  • Gen Lee Jul 16, 2015
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    The problem comes when they do tear down something to please a certain group not listening to the majority. Like this monuments and stuff...the minority wants them to come down, but many people disagree with it. It is more of a political game instead of like a democracy.

  • George Herbert Jul 16, 2015
    user avatar

    The relevant words in the bill are "owned by the State." I don't see any problem with letting the state decide what to do with state-owned property.

  • Joseph Shepard Jul 16, 2015
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    [quote=14776932]Post by James Dunham[/quote:
    Wrong answer there Bubba--No racism, no hatred--just an acknowledgement that IF the damands of the vocal minority continue to deny the legitimacy of Southern heritage and history, and if they continue to deface/demand removal of the symbols (outside of the flag on public property), then there well may be an equally vocal and activist response from people of intelligence. Pray tell, what do you think the response would be if statues of MLK and other Black leaders were to be defaced? I'll bet you think the Black response would be calm, quiet and measured. Remember, MLK--for all the good he did--is not and was not exactly a paragon of virtue.

  • Gen Lee Jul 16, 2015
    user avatar

    Even if the war didn't happen....it still ended up the same way.
    I'm tired of everyone using the slavery card to get what they want. It ended 150 years ago.
    Get over it. Stop being offended. If you don't like it don't look at it, buy, go see it, listen to it, read it, etc.
    I'm offended by a whole bunch of stuff but I have to tolerant it. Put your big boy/girl pants on and suck it up. Life isn't fair. You don't like here you are free to move on somewhere else.

  • Gen Lee Jul 16, 2015
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    Many people don't even recognize the kkk anymore. so they are like a dead society.

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