U.S. President Donald Trump said that protesters who want to remove Confederate statues are seeking to “overthrow the American Revolution.”
As The Hill noted, Trump took aim at these protesters during a speech held at Mount Rushmore on Friday to celebrate the Fourth of July. The report noted that Trump “lambasted protesters calling for the removal of Confederate statues,” saying they were part of a “new far-left fascism” demanding absolute allegiance.
“If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted and punished. Not going to happen to us,” Trump told the cheering crowd.
On the eve of the 4th of July, Trump marks Independence Day by focusing on efforts to remove statues, many of them of Confederate figures: "Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children."
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) July 4, 2020
“Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” he added.
“In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence and hunger and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol and memory of our national heritage.”
In the speech set before the backdrop of Mount Rushmore, Trump spoke at length about the importance of statues representing America’s founding fathers and heroes from the history of the United States. He has been vocally opposed to protesters who have sought to tear down Confederate statues during the growing movement to address racial inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Even before that, Trump garnered controversy for speaking out against those seeking to bring down a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, which became the site of violent clashes between white supremacist groups and counterprotesters in 2017.
Trump has taken recent action against those seeking to take down statues and memorials. In June, he signed an executive order calling for anyone who vandalizes a monument, memorial, or statue to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 27, 2020
While many of these protesters have sought — often successfully — to have Confederate statues taken down, others have called for the removal of other, more revered figures with complicated racial histories. This includes America’s first president, George Washington, who like many of the other founding fathers was an owner of enslaved people.
In his remarks at the Fourth of July event, Trump announced that he was authorizing the creation of what he called a “national garden of American heroes,” an outdoor park that would feature statues from “the greatest Americans who ever lived.” Trump did not say specifically who would be featured in this new national monument.