Trump blasts ‘left wing cultural revolution’
KEYSTONE, July 4: President Donald Trump on Friday accused "angry mobs" of trying to erase history with efforts to remove or rethink monuments to U.S. historical figures and used a speech at Mount Rushmore to paint himself as a bulwark against left-wing extremism.
Trump bemoaned protests demanding racial justice as "violent mayhem". Trump has railed against the "cancel culture" of those who toppled monuments during recent anti-racism protests. He condemned those who targeted statues of Confederate leaders as "angry mobs". Trump accused protesters of "a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children". "We will not be silenced," he said.
Trump, speaking underneath the famed landmark depicting four US presidents, warned that recent demonstrations over racial inequality threatened the foundations of the country's political system.
"Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution," Trump said. "Our children are taught in school to hate their own country," he added.
The president, who has been heavily criticised for his handling of the US coronavirus pandemic, made little reference to the disease that has now claimed almost 130,000 American lives. The US recorded its largest single-day rise in coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total to more than 2.5 million - the most of any country.
The president said the South Dakota landmark would "stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom". "This monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defaced," he told a cheering crowd.
The president added that people who target "symbols of national heritage" will face "the fullest extent of the law". He said those who defaced statues could be sentenced to 10 years in jail, referring to a recent executive order he signed on protecting monuments.
A fireworks display set to music was then held at the pre-Independence Day event, watched by about 7,500 ticket-holders. The fireworks were the first at the site in over a decade, after a ban was imposed over fears they could set off wildfires in the dry brush around the monument.
In the shadow of four notable predecessors -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, whose likenesses are carved into a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills -- the president called on supporters to defend America's "integrity".
The US has been engulfed by a once-in-a-generation reckoning on racism and police brutality since George Floyd, an African American man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25. -AFP