OK, I have to admit off the bat that my title for this post is probably a wee bit sensational. There wouldn't even be a controversy were it not for Raleigh News & Observer columnist Peder Zane stirring a pot. Without getting into too great a detail, here's a blog post about the controversy, as well as Zane's original column and a follow up in which Mr. Zane takes to task all the redneck responders to his original piece and reiterates his original argument. He got five pages of comments from the original post and eight more pages of comments from the follow up. Of the responses I've read (and admittedly, I've not looked at more than 10% of them) my favorite is this:
I do not think your logic -- or really the lack of such -- supports the assertion that the monument to the Confederate dead is somehow more pernicious than those nearby which honor former governors Charles B. Aycock or Zeb Vance. You allude to Aycock's role in the White Supremacy campaigns of 1898 and 1900, as well as the N&O's Josephus Daniels, and yet these men employed a rhetoric of race which was associated not only with disfranchisement of African American voters but also, statistically, with a peak in racial lynching in North Carolina. Vance, a former Rebel colonel & wartime governor, led the "racist Democratic machine [which] regained power" in 1876. Furthermore, you must appreciate the fact that many of the NC boys who gave their lives in the War did not own slaves -- in fact, probably the majority. You deserve credit for drawing attention to the complex history of the monument, but I just do not see how one can single it out for destruction while preserving others.
My general opinion is that if we start going around and tearing down monuments, where does it stop? The monument itself is a piece of history and can be used to tell multiple stories. It can tell the story of the 40,000 boys that were lost to the Old North State, and it can also tell the story of the turbulent 1890s (along with the monuments to Aycock and Vance that are mentioned in the above response). My question is, why does Peder Zane feel the need to stir this particular pot? Our country has much bigger things to worry about.