During his “Keep America Great” rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night, U.S. President Donald Trump slammed people he called “the unhinged left-wing mob” for tearing down Confederate monuments around the country, CNN reported. He told supporters that the people who sought to remove these monuments were “trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues, and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform their demands for absolute and total control.”
The president continued, saying, “This cruel campaign of censorship and exclusion violates everything we hold dear as Americans. They want to demolish our heritage so they can impose a new oppressive regime in its place.”
Trump has been extremely vocal about his opposition to the removal of Confederate monuments around the country. He spoke out about the issue on Friday night via his Twitter account. When protesters in Washington, D.C., tore down a statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike, Trump called for the D.C. Police Department to arrest them, saying their actions were “a disgrace to our Country!”
Trump has also adamantly refused to change the names of military bases that are named after Confederate leaders, CNN reported. On Wednesday, an administration official unequivocally stated that Trump would not support renaming military bases, saying that “we won’t be erasing our history.”
Late night hosts went after Trump after he said he would not rename military bases named after Confederate generals. pic.twitter.com/VFL0Oo891q
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) June 12, 2020
According to The Hill, Trump has a long history of defending Confederate monuments. After the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, Trump took to Twitter to blast local officials who decided to remove Confederate monuments because of the rally. In a series of tweets, the president expressed his disappointment that the “culture of our great country [is] being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” He continued by positing that the removal of these statues might lead to the removal of statues of the country’s founders.
Trump has long perpetuated the argument that removing Confederate monuments is an attempt to erase the country’s history, per The Hill.
Those who defend keeping Confederate monuments often say that they represent an important part of America’s history and that they should remain standing to honor the country’s legacy, according to CNN. Those who advocate for removing Confederate monuments often say that they represent America’s greatest shame — slavery. They argue that Confederate monuments are actually monuments to America’s legacy of racism and that removing them is a visible sign of America’s willingness to move forward from that destructive legacy.
Since the death of George Floyd, several Confederate monuments nationwide have been vandalized and torn down by protesters demonstrating against systemic racism and police brutality.