When President Donald Trump tweeted earlier today decrying the removal of statues and monuments honoring figures of the Confederacy, the usual reaction could be heard in various media and social media outlets. Surely the president has further disgraced himself by taking such an out of the mainstream, racist position. However, a new Marist Poll suggests that the president is being a shrewd politician and is taking the same view as the vast majority of Americans.

Most Americans oppose the removal of Confederate statues and monuments

The Marist Poll found that 62 percent of Americans oppose the elimination of Confederate statues and monuments from public places.

Only 24 percent said that they should come down and 11 percent were not sure. Broken down by party affiliation, the vast majority of Republicans, Independents, and “soft Democrats” opposed the removal of the edifices. 57 percent of “hard Democrats” favored the abolition of Confederate statues and monuments.

What does it look like broken down by race?

65 percent of white Americans oppose removing the edifices while 35 percent stated they should be taken down and eight percent were not sure. The real surprise comes when African Americans are counted. A plurality of 44 percent of black Americans opposes taking down symbols of the Confederacy in public places while 40 support it and 11 percent are unsure. 65 percent of Hispanics are opposed to taking down the monuments 24 percent support it, and 11 percent were not sure.

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What does this mean?

The results of the Marist Poll blows apart two media narratives. The first one is that only Nazis, Klansmen, and white nationalist racists oppose expunging the Confederacy from public places. Clearly, nearly two-thirds of all Americans including a considerable number of African Americans are not haters, racists, or admirers of the old Confederacy. The other narrative that has been blown up is that most African Americans feel traumatized having to drive or walk by a park or public square to see a bronze version of a white slaveholder glowering down on them.

A bit of rational thought can ascertain why Marist found these results. Most people do not care about the Civil War one way or another. Plus one suspects that they find something creepy about tearing down monuments that have been around for a century or more. That is something that the Taliban does, not Americans. Finally, people recognize that America has quite enough 21St Century problems without reaching back to the unpleasantness of 1861 to 1865. One can expunge the very names of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from living memory, and it will not address the problems of crime, education, and health care that afflict too many people in 2017.