New Jersey Senator Cory Booker introduced legislation to remove all confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol, vowing “this is just the beginning.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has followed up in the House. These horribly offensive monuments, which Booker and Pelosi have walked past hundreds of times without being offended until now, must come down. But the American people are not on board.
To watch the media reports the past two weeks is to be convinced that 99.9 percent of the American people want the thousands of Confederate monuments torn down from coast to coast – with the other 0.1 percent consisting of the despicable white supremacists. But – shock of shocks – the media reports are false.
A new poll by Marist confirms the vast majority of Americans don’t want to see the statues removed from towns and cities across the country, not to mention the U.S. Capitol. They believe they should remain as historical symbols.
Here are the numbers. While 30 percent approve of taking down the statues, 48 percent disapprove.
The numbers among blacks are especially surprising, given the recent media coverage. More blacks favor keeping the statues than taking them down, 44 to 40 percent.
If ever you’d expect to see a backlash to Confederate memorials, it’d be immediately after white nationalists had a torchlight parade around one and then held a rally at which one of their own ran over a bunch of protesters. Still, in the days immediately following, only 40 percent of blacks favor tearing town the monuments.
This is not to say the monuments should remain. A very good case can be made for removing anything that so understandably offends so many.
But a couple of observations are in order.
1. Where was the outcry before now?
For over 150 years, Democrats, blacks, and all Americans have visited these monuments and walked past them in Capitol buildings all over the country, but now – suddenly – they are too offensive to avoid the national wrecking ball. I don’t know about you, but when something offends me, it doesn’t take me 150 years to figure that out.
2. Where will it end?
As President Trump observed, both Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. Christopher Columbus owned slaves. Shouldn’t that call for the burning of his three ships (replicas) that are paraded around the country? And why not bring down the portraits of every president who favored slavery or owned slaves? And why should we stop there? In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights law, despite the opposition of most Democrats. Why should we leave the portraits of Congressional leaders – Democrat or Republican – in statehouses across the land, when they went on record opposing voting rights for African Americans? And what about our presidents who did not support a woman’s right to vote until the last hundred years? Should we bring down the portraits of our first 30 presidents?
Again, this is not to say the Confederate monuments should stay up. But it is to say we may actually have more important things to do – like creating jobs, defeating ISIS, and passing immigration law.
Should the monuments come down? Maybe. But this has waited for the entire 150 years following the Civil War – without any protest from the very Congressmen who walk past these monuments every day. Perhaps it can wait a bit longer. At least, that is the opinion of the 70 percent of Americans who are not calling for the symbols to come down.