Who knew Mount Rushmore was an homage to racism and white supremacy? This alleged fact was not pointed out by the media when former President Barack Obama visited the historic South Dakota site. During his primary battle with Hillary Clinton in 2008, Obama toured Mount Rushmore, while CNN journalists gushed over the “majestic” monument. At the time, the network’s Jim Acosta said: “It’s a fitting campaign stop for a presidential contender looking to make history.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2016 was awe-struck during his visit to the site. Just four years later, though, one of the most famous and impressive of America’s man-made wonders has magically become a shrine to the very worst of human nature. Nobody appears to be able to explain this remarkable transformation.
On July 3, President Trump delivered an address beneath the carved likenesses of four celebrated American presidents. One would expect the commander in chief to make a rousing, optimistic speech on such an occasion. This was not that speech – or not entirely, anyway. Trump was somewhat stern, though perhaps he was trying too hard to be presidential. He was obviously in a no-nonsense mood, though, as he blasted the radical left for the deep divisions it has over the past few months exacerbated.
At the beginning of his address, the president said: “This monument will never be desecrated.” From there, he went on to assert his determination that America would not bow to the “left-wing cultural revolution.” Trump spoke of the achievements of each of the four men whose faces are carved into Mount Rushmore: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
Our Country at Its Very Best?
In 2016, Bernie Sanders gazed up at Mount Rushmore and said: “This is our country at its very best. What an incredible achievement!” As CNN reported on the senator’s tour of the site, the anchor spoke of “this monument to four great American presidents.” Sanders himself could not say enough about what he was seeing: “Just the accomplishment and the beauty. It really does make one very proud to be an American.”
President Trump, during his own visit, was not at all conciliatory toward those who are now so offended by the monument and by his visit to it. His speech was one of unity, but he was not extending that unity to all Americans. He was certainly not including the radical left. It is perhaps the first time that this president has delivered a speech that was at once resolute in its praise of the American achievement and directly challenging to the extreme minority that seeks to burn down the nation’s history, traditions, and values.
As is to be expected, these days, the media reaction to Trump’s speech was outrage. The president was, they claim, driving Americans further apart. Such an accusation is highly disingenuous, coming from left-wing journalists who routinely imply that the half of the nation that supports Trump is racist, xenophobic, and uneducated.
Decades of Silence From the Suddenly Outraged
As for the almost overnight transformation of America’s monuments into literal pillars of racism, one cannot help but take a step back and ask the obvious questions: if these statues and monuments are so threatening, divisive, shameful, and offensive, why has the political left not demanded their destruction before? Why has their public display for decades been tolerated? Why did none of the Democrat presidents who came before Trump order their removal?
The current anti-American rage sweeping the country is supposed to be all about holding people – and even entire races – accountable for past sins. Should not every past and present elected official and community leader – regardless of political affiliation – be pilloried, then, for having allowed the nation’s alleged problems to fester and go unhealed for so long? America is not witnessing the righteous outrage of the oppressed – she is experiencing a selective reinterpretation of the past, as a foundation upon which to reshape the future. Trump was correct. This is a “cultural revolution” – and students of real history know very well how such revolutions turn out.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.