Let's say that I move to somewhere far away from where I'm from. Maybe I went there for economic reasons. Maybe a government department sent and resettled me there. Maybe I went there to attend university. Maybe I was taken in as a refugee. Or maybe I trespassed and have squatted there ever since. Or maybe one or both of my parents were any of the preceding categories. I don't really have generational roots in this new place--no ancestors buried here. None of my predecessors played any role whatsoever in founding any of the institutions of the environment I'm now in. None of them were first settlers of the old colony. None of them declared independence and aided founding the state. None were ever in a position to have fought, bled and died for the place. None founded a school here, a university here, a road, a park, a court, a church, nothing.
Even though on the long scale of history I effectively arrived only yesterday, through "democracy", the laws artificially weigh my opinions the same as people from families that have been here for two, three or four hundred years--who did settle the colony, who did found the state, who did defend themselves and their state in all of it's early wars, who did endure a ruthless invasion and occupation a century and half ago carried out by people they once voluntarily shared a common central government with. I get as much say here as people who do have an established history in this place.
Now let's say I insert myself into the political life of this place, aggressively. Let's say I team up with other people like me from everywhere and nowhere, or disgruntled people part of other groups of a long presence here, or people from here who have adopted the political views I hold, and together we decide that we're going to define the original governing group's entire political and military history up to and including their mere existence on this continent as "hate".
I begin knocking down statues. I begin desecrating graves. I claim to be the righteous party in doing so because I have defined the original governing group in such a way that I am automatically justified in attacking them in any manner whatsoever because of how I interpret their history. I accuse them of de-personing various "people of color" while simultaneously de-personing them so thoroughly that I have helped make it socially acceptable to destroy anything associated with them or their group heroes.
Let's say that that other group dwindles away to where my allies and I have controlling electoral majorities first in precincts and on campuses, then whole counties, then whole groups of counties in my new state. In fact, my allies and I so thoroughly displace the other group that we can dominate the electoral politics of first the executive branch of the state, then it's federal electoral politics, then it's legislature. We now have lawmaking power over the original governing group who's mere existence in political life we've defined as hate. We can, at will, deny protection to their monuments, their graves, and eventually, their homes, their families and their physical persons because we have totally captured the state and local governments they originally constituted over themselves. We have decreed them to be nothing more than "evil racists", who deserve to be erased. So we erase them, and celebrate ourselves for doing so.
Now, in this scenario, what am I?
I started as a guest or a trespasser. I progressed to a nuisance, then a busybody quite rapidly, interfering in matters that did not pertain to me by asserting strong opinions and actions against the traditions of the people who took me in. I became a subvertor, an enemy from elsewhere domiciled in my new environment.
Then I became an occupier, a revolutionary, and a conqueror.
At no point was any act of mine in this scenario legitimate, and these governments that my cohorts and I captured ceased to be legitimate the moment we drove out of the process the people who established them.
But I had power behind me. I had propaganda. I had lies. I had unlimited funding. And I had squatter democracy and bogus constitutional interpretations to rubber stamp a false simulacrum of legitimacy on every single act along the way.
I "did it like Durham" over and over, calling the other group hateful genocidal colonizers, while actively hating the other, while genociding their culture and colonizing institutions they created.
And I did it mainly for attention, for "likes" and hearts on social media, to get to pretend to be virtuous and heroic while publicly defiling the memory of men who actually displayed real virtue and heroism. I sought worth in destroying another group of people. And because my politics were correct and their's weren't, I got to smugly proclaim myself great and them awful, one vandalized statue sefie at a time.
But, thank God, that isn't me.
I am their "other".
I am who the real analogues of the hypothetical person described in the preceding want gone.
I am a Southerner.
I am Silent Sam.