President Donald Trump used the spectacular backdrop of Mount Rushmore and the eve of Independence Day to deliver a speech that cast himself as the defender of American history against a out of control “angry mobs” seeking to denigrate the nation’s founders and pull down statues and monuments.
Trump’s speech, below the giant faces of four of his predecessors, signaled that his presidential campaign will lean heavily into the the grievances of a perceived silent majority, a term from the era of Richard Nixon, one that is dismayed and disgusted over the protests and unrest that followed the death of George Floyd.
“There is a new far-left fascism that demands 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,” he said. “It is not going to happen to us.”
Neil Young Objects To Use Of 3 Of His Songs By Donald Trump At Mount Rushmore Event
He also announced that he was signing an executive order to create an outdoor park that will be filled with statues of the “greatest Americans who ever lived.”
His speech went through the accomplishments of famous Americans — everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Harriet Tubman to even Bob Hope — but he also seemed intent on trying to characterize the national reckoning over race as something that poses a threat.
“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” he said.
Trump spoke to a crowd packed in an amphitheater, many not wearing masks despite concerns over the coronavirus. It is a real fear: The New York Times reported that Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraising official on the Trump campaign and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for the coronavirus after traveling to the South Dakota locale.
By choosing to do the speech at Mount Rushmore, Trump also was stoking other historic divisions — the clearing out of Native Americans from the American west.
That was apparent hours before his visit, demonstrators blocked a road that led into the national monument, before authorities removed them. According to the Associated Press, police used pepper spray on several protesters. The demonstrators included Native Americans who long have claimed the land in the Black Hills. Four decades ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the lands had been taken illegally in violation of an 1868 treaty between the United States government and the Sioux Nation.
MSNBC reported that some Trump supporters yelled at demonstrators, “Go home, go home.” Protesters replied, “This is my home. My land.”
Trump’s attacks on the left and excessive political correctness helped fuel his political rise in 2016.
“Make no mistake, this left wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution,” Trump said in his speech. “In so doing, they will 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.”