Municipal workers attempt to remove paint from a monument dedicated to Confederate soldier John B. Castleman that was vandalized late Saturday night in Louisville, Ky., August 14, 2017. / REUTERS

Archived: Confederate Monuments' Removal Was 'Foolish,' Says Trump

After equating activists for equality to neo-Nazis following the violence in Charlottesville, President Donald Trump has continued to double down on his racist rhetoric.

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“The tweets speak for themselves,” a White House spokeswoman said to reporters on Thursday.

Trump’s words come at a time when leaders across the country are removing Confederate monuments from public spaces, recognizing their historical ties to racism, and when even the president’s fellow Republicans are unable to defend him.

Many people do believe that Confederate monuments should remain in tact “as a historical symbol.” A new Marist poll found that 67 percent of Americans feel this way. And a YouGov poll found that 67 percent of Americans believe Confederate monuments represent “Southern pride,” while only 26 percent link them with racism.

However, this changes when broken down by race, suggesting that Trump is taking only one group of Americans into consideration when talking about the history of the “beautiful” statues.

According to the Marist poll, Black Americans are almost evenly divided on whether the monuments should stay or be removed. Forty-four percent believe they should not be removed, while 40 percent said they should be. The YouGov poll, meanwhile, found that 47 percent of Blacks perceive the monuments as symbols of racism and 17 percent connect them to Southern pride. Thirty-five percent were not sure.

Cities in California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia, and Texas, as well as Washington, D.C., have all either removed statues and monuments pertaining to the Confederacy or are considering doing so.

This week Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had four Confederate monuments removed: a Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument, a Confederate Women’s monument, a statue of Lee and Jackson and a statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney. Taney authored the decision in the Dred Scott v. Stanford case, in which Dred Scott, who was enslaved, sued for his freedom. In the 7-2 ruling led by Taney, the court rejected his request.

The removals were done in the middle of the night, drawing less public attention and trying to prevent any clashes with protesters.

Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan this week expressed his support for removing the Taney statue. Notably, he had a very different opinion in 2015 one more similar to Trump’s. At the time he pointed to the history tied to Confederate monuments.

“Where do we draw the line” he said at the time. “Some of this is our history. We hear people saying we should dig up the Confederate cemeteries in Maryland.”

“George Washington was a slave owner,” Hogan also said. “Should we remove him from the statehouse”

While Maryland was a slave state during the Civil War era, it was considered a Border state. Most of its soldiers fought for the North, though.

Meanwhile, Trump’s fellow Republicans have been distancing themselves from him amid his numerous offensive and racist statements over the days following Charlottesville.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called into question Trump’s competence to fulfill his duties as POTUS.

“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the ability or the competence that he needs to be successful,” Corker said.

“He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today, and he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that,” he also said. “And without the things that I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican senator, said in an interview with VICE on Thursday that Trump’s comments this week compromise the “clarity and moral authority” people need to see from a president.

Trump took to Twitter to attack Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), saying that the senator was speaking out against the president only for “publicity.”

Graham responded in a series of tweets.

The debate of what Confederacy symbolizes in today’s society was largely reawakened after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine Black parishioners at a historically Black church in South Carolina. Photos of Roof later surfaced with Confederate memorabilia.

In May New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered a powerful speech after the last of four Confederate monuments were taken down in his city. He believes New Orleans, which he describes as “truly a city of many nations, a melting pot” and is also “rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way,” is better for it.

“These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for,” Landrieu said in a powerful speech on Friday.

To those who tie the Confederacy to history, Landrieu points to a much darker part of history that is often left out of the conversation:

“And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.”

The statues were not erected in honor of history they were erected “to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity,” Landrieu said.

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