The Confederate monument dispute has returned to North Carolina

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The politically charged debate over Confederate memorials has come roaring back in the South, as protestors toppled the Silent Sam statue in North Carolina last week. And many of the state’s leaders are on their side.

The latest survey of the North Carolina Influencers, a group of the state’s most prominent voices, found that two-thirds of respondents said Confederate monuments should be removed or relocated, News & Observer reporter Camila Molina told the Beyond the Bubble podcast Tuesday. Molina noted that women and Democrats were the most likely subgroup to back the change.

The Silent Sam monument on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s had long been a target of demonstrators who view it as a symbol of racism. Supporters of keeping the monument in place believe it is an important historical marker that represents their heritage. After the statue was knocked over, the university hauled it away and has kept it from public view.

The Silent Sam monument was placed on campus in 1913 to honor the UNC students who served in the Civil War.

The controversy in North Carolina represents one that has taken place all over the South, particularly in the wake of the violent rally in Charlottesville last year.

For the time being, Molina said the the future for Silent Sam and other Confederate memorials around the state is unclear.

“The university is kind of in a bind right now because the law that protects these monuments is really restrictive,” Molina said.

In the meantime, Molina said she “definitely” expects Confederate monuments to become a more central campaign issue in North Carolina with the midterm elections just 10 weeks away.

“The fact that this has been building for the last year, I think it’s definitely something people are talking about,” Molina said. People have very strong convictions about what these memorials symbolized.”

(Check out last week’s Beyond the Bubble episode: Taking a page from Trump, Democrats plot bigger and bigger promises)

Later in the show, Aaron Sharockman, the executive director of Politifact, joined to rate the veracity of several claims from the White House and the campaign trail over the past month. He also explained why the organization avoids using the word “lie” when calling out politicians’ falsehoods, a decision that stands in contrast to some other news outlets.

“It’s ultimately very difficult to get into someone’s head and determine their motivation ... as to why they’re saying one thing over another,” Sharockman said.

McClatchy’s Beyond the Bubble show is produced by Jordan-Marie Smith and Davin Coburn. Alex Roarty, a national political correspondent at McClatchy, and Adam Wollner, a correspondent for politics and special projects at McClatchy, recorded this episode at McClatchy’s Washington Bureau, August 28, 2018.