In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville last weekend, many politicians and activists have called for statues honoring Confederate soldiers to be torn down. A new poll, however, shows that most Americans, including a plurality of African-Americans, don’t agree with efforts to tear down Confederate statues. According to a new poll conducted by Marist for NPR/PBS News Hour, 62 percent of Americans want the statues to stay where they are.
According to the poll, 86 percent of Republicans think the statues should remain as historical symbols, whereas 6 percent said the monuments should be removed because they’re offensive to some people. Democrats were nearly split on the issue: 44 percent want the statues to stay put, while 47 percent believe they should be torn down because they’re offensive. A plurality of African-American respondents — 44 percent — said the statues should stay, while 40 percent said they should be removed:
African-Americans are divided on the question — but a plurality agree they should stay, 44 percent to 40 percent. Two-thirds of whites and Latinos believe the statues should remain as well.
The only groups in which a plurality said the statues should be removed are Democrats, especially those identifying as “strong Democrats,” those identifying as “very liberal” and those who disapprove of the president.
Those who approve of the president, however, are almost unified in their belief that the statues should stay — 89 percent to 7 percent.
In Charlottesville, Virginia, a group of white nationalists over the weekend protested the city’s decision to remove a statue memorializing Robert E. Lee from one of its parks. Counter-protesters — including a faction of violent Leftist agitators who typically cover their faces in an effort to intimidate others and have a history of violently disrupting events — marched in opposition to the racist, anti-Semitic white nationalists chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”
The clashes quickly turned deadly. A 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, who was protesting the neo-Nazis, was killed when a car plowed into a crowd at high speed. Eyewitnesses described the act as intentional, and a suspect was quickly identified and arrested by police. Two Virginia state troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash while responding to the scene.
President Trump has decried the efforts to topple the memorials, pointing out that efforts to remove symbols of the Confederacy may lead to the erasure of our Founding Fathers and their signature achievement: the United States Constitution.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Trump said. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
In a PBS interview with Charlie Rose on Wednesday night, Al Sharpton said the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., should be abandoned, because America’s third president and author of the Declaration of Independence once owned slaves.