Donald Trump has heightened his law-and-order threats against Americans demonstrating against racial injustice, a movement that he called “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children”.
The president’s remarks, invoking his dark vision of an America under siege, were addressed to a crowd of several thousand people at Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota to mark Independence Day.
Dozens of Native American protesters who have condemned the president’s appearance at the sacred Sioux Nation site had attempted to block a road to the event. National Guard troops fired pepper spray at several protesters, and a dozen people were arrested moments before the president arrived.
While a dangerous spike in new coronavirus cases has forced Americans to cancel celebrations over the three-day holiday weekend, the president has insisted on holding his event, inspired by a growing nationalism that has redefined the cries for justice against police killings of black Americans as a “growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for”.
The president has long sought a televised fireworks spectacle at Mount Rushmore to legitimise his presidency, on a stage flanked by red, white and blue banners with a military band and generous crowd.
But he walked onstage on Friday in the midst of a crisis, as cases of Covid-19 continue to spike across the US, which have reached nearly 3 million, including the deaths of more than 128,000 Americans within four months. A densely packed crowd at the monument’s amphitheatre was not asked to physically distance themselves or wear any face coverings.
Rather than addressing the intense division that has dominated American life in recent months, he defended monuments to the Confederacy erected in the Jim Crow era, as well as other controversial public monuments to prominent slavers, as Americans and state and local officials have wrestled for years with their placement in public areas across the US.
He announced an executive order creating a “National Garden of American Heroes” to feature statues of several presidents and other American figures, from Amelia Earhart and Harriet Tubman to former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Evangelical leader Billy Graham.
Under the massive stone faces of former presidents at Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, the president’s remarks echoed his re-election campaign’s violent rhetoric, promising a cultural civil war against Americans that only his administration can defeat.
He accused antiracist demonstrators, journalists and educators of a “far-left fascism” that is “designed to overthrow the American revolution”.
“Their goal is to end America,” he declared. “In its place they want power for themselves.”
Protests greeted him in South Dakota, where roughly 100 Native Americans and other demonstrators demanded that the president cancel the event and honour a long-standing treaty that allows Tribal governance over South Dakota’s Black Hills, home to dozens of Tribal nations.
Construction on Mount Rushmore’s sculpture began in 1927 and was competed more than a decade later in 1941, with the faces of former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt carved into the Six Grandfathers, the mountain edifice as its known to Native Americans.
“The whole Black Hills is sacred,” Ricky Gray Grass, a member of the Oglala Sioux’s executive council, told The Washington Post. “For them to come and carve the presidents, slave owners who have no meaning to us, it was an insult.”
Its creation also undermined the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, which had established the area as part of the Great Sioux Reservation. The federal government routinely infringed on those agreements in the decades that followed, from the peak of the Gold Rush through the president’s latest visit.
In 1980, the US Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the Sioux Nation had not been justly compensated for the value of the land, and must do so with interest.
Hours before the president’s arrival, the Oglala Sioux tribal council voted to ban the president and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from the area.
Oglala president Julian Bear Runner wrote to the White House to cancel the event after the president had refused to discuss the matter with Native leaders.
“The people are angry,” Bear Runner said this week. “All I can do as a leader is stand back and support them … and to stand with them and help them in every way I can to do what is right.
Source: Daily Independent
Excerpts From Speech:
Donald Trump: (02:20)
Well, thank you very much. Governor Noem, Secretary Bernhardt, we very much appreciate it. Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and a very special hello to South Dakota. As we begin this 4th of July weekend, the First Lady and I would wish each and every one of you a very, very happy Independence Day. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (02:52)
Let us show our appreciation to the South Dakota Army and Air National Guard and the Air Force for inspiring us with that magnificent display of American air power, and of course our gratitude as always to the legendary and very talented Blue Angels. Thank you very much. Let us also send you our deepest thanks to our wonderful veterans, law enforcement, first responders, and the doctors, nurses, and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus. They are working hard. I want to thank them very, very much. We’re grateful as well to your state’s congressional delegation. Senator John Thune. John, thank you very much. Senator Mike Rounds. Thank you, Mike. And Dusty Johnson, Congressman. Hi, Dusty. Thank you. And all others with us tonight from Congress, thank you very much for coming. We appreciate it.
Donald Trump: (04:07)
There could be no better place to celebrate America’s independence than beneath this magnificent, incredible majestic mountain and monument to the greatest Americans who have ever lived. Today we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world, this monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defamed, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.
Donald Trump: (05:29)
We gather tonight to herald the most important day in the history of nations, July 4th, 1776. At those words, every American heart should swell with pride, every American family should cheer with delight, and every American patriot should be filled with joy because each of you lives in the most magnificent country in the history of the world and it will soon be greater than ever before.
Donald Trump: (06:13)
Our founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity. No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America and no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation. It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence. They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said, “All men are created equal.” These immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom. Our founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights, given us by our Creator in Heaven, and that which God has given us, we will allow no one ever to take away ever.
Donald Trump: (07:48)
1776 represented the culmination of thousands of years of Western civilization and the triumph of not only spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy, and reason. And yet, as we meet here tonight, there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure. Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. 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 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.
Donald Trump: (09:17)
One of their political weapons is cancel culture, driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and to our values and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.
Donald Trump: (10:24)
This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty must be stopped and it will be stopped very quickly. We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children from this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life. In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, 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. It’s not going to happen to us.
Donald Trump: (11:25)
Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. 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.
Donald Trump: (12:01)
– Memory of our national heritage.
Speaker 2: (12:08)
Not on my watch.
Donald Trump: (12:09)
True. That’s very true actually. That is why I am deploying federal law enforcement to protect our monuments, arrest the rioters, and prosecutors offenders to the fullest extent of the law.