Sorry, okchemyst; I had to "borrow" your tagline. It was too good.
First, as a UNC alum, I must say that I am appalled that nowhere on this thread (unless I missed it; after a couple of glasses of non-French wine, it's possible) is there reference to how Silent Sam got his popular name. Certainly every entering freshman at UNC knows: Sam fires his musket whenever he spots a virgin. Hence, his silence.
Now, as to Dr. Horne's screed, I am particularly struck by his identification of the statue as "the centerpiece of this campus." Nonsense. Most alums consider the Old Well to be the centerpiece of the campus, as well as the University's emblem.
Others might accord that honor to the Davie Poplar, under whose branches future Governor Davie designated the site of the University. Still others would point to Old East, the dormitory whose cornerstone was laid in 1793, the oldest state university building in the nation. The Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, the South Building (the main administrative building), the Wilson Graduate Library, and even the Dean Dome (now "Roy's House") might get some votes. But Silent Sam, the "centerpiece of this campus"? Not likely. Not in the top ten. I don't even know the statue's real name, and I'd bet most students and alums don't, either.
But, of course, Dr. Horne and his ilk have succeeded in making Silent Sam a more important celebrity than he otherwise would be. I love it when things work out like that. And now, he'll be defended to the death.
Rest assured, there is NO WAY Silent Sam will be removed. This isn't the first time the issue has come up, and it won't be the last. Carolina's liberal image notwithstanding (which I've always felt has been exaggerated anyway, liberals being louder than conservatives by and large), its commitment to historical preservation is stronger. The Civil War happened, and UNC students and alums fought on both sides; removing a statue will not change that fact.