Was Donald Trump's 4th of July speech at Mt. Rushmore divisive to the country?
- Mount Rushmore is located in Keystone, South Dakota. The enterprise of carving the presidential images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln into the mountainside began in 1927 and was forced to end early on October 31, 1941 due to discontinued funding. The images were originally designed to stretch to the waist. The faces were completed between 1934-1939.
- President Trump’s July 4th visit to South Dakota marks the 27th time a sitting President has visited the monument. That’s an estimated one visit per every five years.
- 7,500 people were expected to attend the July 4th speech, and Gov. Kristi Noem (R) announced masks would be freely available, but not necessary to wear.
- Newt Gingrich described Trump’s speech as ‘his most important yet’ stating, ‘Not since Reagan has a president laid out the core values that make America free – and stood defiantly in defense of those values despite ridicule and hostility.’
- Trump referenced many historical figures in his speech, including Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Muhammed Ali, and Booker T. Washington, along with four of America’s founding fathers.
- Trump continually referenced the “Left” throughout his speech, which refers to a vast ideological movement in the U.S., which started in Europe, but has since gained traction in America since the 19th century.
- As of July 6, 2020, 38% of Americans approve of President Trump and his actions towards recent global crises. 91% of those are Republican while 2% are Democrat.
The media's portrayal of Trump's July 4th speech as 'dark and divisive' is not only an outright lie but sadly proves the point made throughout his speech — this nation is already divided and engaged in a culture war over the very meaning of what America is and has always stood for. America is continuously slandered as 'systemically racist,' accused of being built on white supremacy and slavery when nothing could be further from the truth. Independence Day and this nation should absolutely be celebrated, and Trump isn't wrong for calling out the destructive tendencies of the mob rule seen today.
The once-streamlined values Trump espoused throughout his speech used to be commonly held American thought. How did we get here where statements like 'We believe in equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion, and creed [as] every child of every color, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of God' can be called divisive?
A 2017 Pew study on Polarization in Politics shows how in just two decades (from 1994-2017), the Democratic party moved drastically to the Left, whereas the Republican party remained mostly in place. The political divide was exacerbated under Obama, and later a 2019 Gallup Poll reveals 22% of Democrats' (an all-time low) feel patriotic towards America while Republicans haven't fallen below 68%.
The political Left has pushed American discourse so far away from our founding values and unifying ideals that they now call them racist, divisive, radical. In reality, however, believing Trump's speech to be radical is a radical belief in and of itself. Trump’s speech sees a growing siege on America and attempts to set the record straight.
Speaking to an ever-shrinking base, hot on the heels of a tribute to the Declaration of Independence and its 56 signatories, Trump launched a diatribe dividing the US along ideological lines, saying, 'Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children'. He went on to complain bitterly of 'far-left fascism', casting it as a 'far-left cultural revolution' bent on destroying the US. In an effort to unite his followers, Trump neglected the rest of the nation's concerns.
When President Trump referred to these disgraced leaders as 'heroes,' he certainly intended to appeal to a specific audience. Trump is ignoring the centuries of harm and inequality caused by slavery when he speaks with such respect and reverence for people who took part in such a disgraceful act. By claiming that the left is trying to 'wipe' our country's history, Trump insists that he feels comfortable with black people living in a country that is continually reminding them of their ancestor's oppressors.
Trump stated that we should 'learn from history, or you will go back to it again.' Historian Annette Gordon-Reed explained that battlefields and cemeteries are more appropriate places for Confederate monuments, rather than building statues and naming schools after racists who fought against our country and black people's right to freedom. Rather than devising a plan to remove these monuments from the public eye without completely erasing the past, Trump simply leaned into the views of his far-right supporters.