Thursday, August 31, 2017


Here's data from a new Fox News poll:
With the controversy heating up across the country, voters by a 2-to-1 margin think Confederate monuments and statues should stay up (61 percent) rather than be taken down (29 percent).
You're probably thinking this is to be expected -- it's a Fox poll. But there's very little in this poll that reflects Fox values. President Trump's job approval/disapproval is 41%/55%. Trump is seen as "tearing the country apart" by 56% of poll respondents. And the numbers get worse for Trump:
He receives net negative ratings on North Korea (43-50), taxes (37-45), immigration (43-54), Russia (35-56), the environment (36-56), and health care (34-60).

His worst marks are on race relations (33-61 percent), where disapproval outweighs approval by 28 points.
On the subject of the Confederacy, we're told that "more than three times as many" poll respondents "have a negative reaction when they see the Confederate flag (36 percent negative vs. 11 percent positive)."

And yet respondents want Confederate monuments to stay. In a recent Quinnipiac poll -- which was also terrible for Trump -- respondents opposed removing monuments by a 50%-39% margin. The margin was 62%-27% in a recent NPR/NewsHour/Marist poll. Trump's response to Charlottesville got low marks in that poll. The numbers in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll were 54%-27% in favor of the monuments.

Racists want the monuments to stay up, of course, but for others, the "tearing down history" argument seems to settle the question, and opponents can't seem to refute it effectively. We can say that we don't put up monuments to the 9/11 hijackers, or to Hitler and Hirohito's soldiers, or even to British troops in the Revolutionary War, and no one says that we're "denying history." But that argument doesn't resonate.

Sabrina Tavernise of The New York Times tells us that we're actually in a Confederate monument boom, with the recent tributes to the South going up on private property:
While old monuments erected in bygone eras are coming down, new ones continue to go up.

In Crenshaw County, Ala., a new monument to “unknown Confederate soldiers” was unveiled on Sunday in a private park. In the small East Texas town of Orange, a giant concrete ring of 13 columns, representing the states the Confederacy claimed as its own, is going up on private land at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. In North Carolina, a bronze statue of the Confederate general Joseph Johnston was installed at the Bentonville battlefield in 2010.

“There has been a Civil War memorial boom going on over the last 20 years,” said W. Fitzhugh Brundage, the chairman of the history department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At least 36 have gone up in North Carolina alone since 2000, he said, as many as were put up between 1940 and 1990. Of those, 20 are to Confederates and four are to Union forces. The rest memorialize the war in general, including one dedicated in 2012 to Civil War horses.

But if the memorials of yesteryear were put in busy public squares, today’s are mostly appearing far from the bustle of daily life on plots of private land, or on battlefield sites, Professor Brundage said.
The Crenshaw County monument has been in the works since last year; I suspect that an increasing number of monuments are in the planning stages right now, or will be very soon.

If the boom started at the beginning of this century, you can't blame it on a black president's election. Surely that was a factor from 2008 on -- but before that there was a lot of controversy about displays of Confederate flags and other symbols of the rebellion.

The backlash is strong. It's not going away. And Americans in the middle simply don't understand the reasons for opposition.

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