At the foot of Mount Rushmore on the eve of Independence Day, President Donald Trump made a direct appeal to disaffected white voters four months before Election Day, accusing protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”
The president dug further into American divisions Friday, offering a discordant tone to an electorate battered by a pandemic and wounded by racial injustice following the high-profile killings of Black people. He zeroed in on the desecration by some protesters of monuments and statues across the country that honor those who have benefited from slavery, including some past presidents.
“This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore," Trump said. He lamented “cancel culture" and charged that some on the political left hope to “defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children." He said Americans should speak proudly of their heritage and shouldn't have to apologize for its history.
“We will not be terrorized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people,” Trump added. “It will not happen.”
The speech and fireworks at Mount Rushmore came against the backdrop of a pandemic that has killed over 125,000 Americans. The president flew across the nation to gather a big crowd of supporters, most of them maskless and all of them flouting public health guidelines that recommend not gathering in large groups.