Trump lit a culture war bonfire, using the backdrop of Mount Rushmore last night to frame protesters as a left-wing mob that intends to “end America.”
Saying the recent protestors were leading a
“merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”
Even for Trump, this was a shocking bridge too far, meant to enflame his base on the eve of the county’s celebration of independence, all the while ignoring public health guidelines. He continued to act as if the coronavirus didn’t exist.
Instead, when Trump spoke on of a “growing danger,” referring to a threat to America’s “heritage” — rhetoric intended to rev up his base.
This at a time when many Americans are attempting to revisit and relearn the nation’s history with greater attention to the wrongs inflicted on Black and Native American people.
He constantly referred to “they” and “them,” as a threat to the historical dominance of White people, describing the goals of protesters as
“alien to our culture, and to our values.”
Talking about cancel culture, he said,
“We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children, end this radical assault and preserve our beloved American way of life.’
“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. It’s not gonna happen to us.
Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol and memory of our national heritage.”
The thousands of people, most without masks, were seated close together in bleacher seats and on black folding chairs that were zip-tied together because of a local fire code, making physical distancing impossible.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican and close Trump ally, said during an appearance on Fox News that there would be no social distancing as spectators gathered to celebrate freedom.
The President’s appearance at the non-socially distanced event in South Dakota came at a time when the virus creeps ever closer to him. Before she was set to attend the South Dakota event, Kimberly Guilfoyle — the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. and a top fundraiser for the Trump campaign — tested positive for coronavirus.
Trump minimized the dangers of the pandemic Friday night in South Dakota, expressing more concern for the safety of statues than of the American people.
“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.
Many of these people have no idea why they’re doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But, no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history and culture to be taken from them.”
He touched on the tarnished legacies of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, delivering his own little revised history lesson on each of the White men chiseled into the South Dakota mountain.
Trump threatened protesters earlier this week that were accused of throwing red paint on the Washington Square Park arch in NYC. (FYI, Washington owned more than 300 slaves until he freed them in his will at the time of death –with 10 years in prison.)
Trump said of Mount Rushmore,
“I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world, this monument will never be desecrated.”
Another American history note of shame: The Black Hills, where the monument stands, are a sacred place to Native Americans who live in the area. Sioux tribes roamed the area for thousands of years, but tribal ownership of the Black Hills was officially guaranteed by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. The Sioux were soon forced off the land after the discovery of gold in the area. Native American activists have called for the lands to be returned. In 1980, the Supreme Court upheld that the seizure of the Black Hills was illegal under the Fifth Amendment. The legal battle continues to this day.
On Wednesday, Trump called the words of Black Lives Matter a
He threatened to veto a must-pass defense policy bill because it includes an amendment that calls for the removal of the names of Confederate leaders from all military assets within three years.
Trump has doubled down on his race-baiting tactics even as he falls WAY behind Joe Biden, in the polls. A majority of Americans across racial and ethnic groups express support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
So, as we tally the dead in this country to 130,000 souls lost, with this man’s utter disregard for human life, I can’t honestly say, Happy Fourth of July. Today there is nothing happy about it.
(Photos, YouTube, via CNN)