Hundreds of students and community members gathered Monday night at the University of North Carolina to voice their outrage upon learning that the university planned to erect a $5 million building on campus to house Silent Sam, a statue of a Confederate soldier on the school’s Chapel Hill campus that was pulled down by protesters in August.
The university chancellor, Carol Folt, who has in the past expressed a desire to see the statue removed, explained that the facility was intended the “contextualize” the statue and follow a 2015 North Carolina law preventing the statue from being removed entirely. Protesters criticized the university’s efforts to protect a statue they see as enshrining white supremacy, and other critics have accused the university of abandoning its responsibilities to its black students to bow to conservative donors.
Not one to let student-led activism go unscrutinized, Fox News host Laura Ingraham took the protesters to task on her show Tuesday. “Look, every country, all history, has its bad side and it has its good sides,” she said. “Good stuff, bad stuff. But this recalls the kind of destructive mindset of, let’s say, ISIS.”
According to Ingraham, these protesters are “enemies of history,” more akin to a terror-based group that rules by violence and is known for ethnic cleansing and other war crimes than to civil rights protesters. “Think about ISIS, what they did,” she said. “They pillaged and they wiped away irreplaceable, historical, and religious monuments. From Palmyra, remember in Syria, simply because they could. It was offensive to them.”
While the protesters would argue that, unlike ISIS, which as part of its campaign for power in the region targets places of worship and historical artifacts to assert its cultural dominance, they are objecting to the continued veneration of statues that were often built decades after the Civil War, during Jim Crow and civil rights eras, to reinforce white supremacy and transform the confederacy’s image as part of the “Lost Cause” myth-making movement, Ingraham sees both groups as simply trying to erase history.
She is not the first to make the claim. Corey Stewart, the far-right Republican nominee who lost to Tim Kaine in the Virginia Senate race in November, asserted in 2017 that anyone who wanted to destroy “artifacts of history” was “just like ISIS.” Ingraham and Stewart should take comfort in knowing that six other states have laws like that of North Carolina—which, with Alabama, passed its law after the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting in response to the nationwide backlash against symbols of white supremacy—banning the removal of monuments.