Joining a chorus of condemnations focusing on the Mount Rushmore national landmark ahead of President Donald Trump's July 3 celebratory visit there, The New York Times is promoting a report focused on longstanding criticisms of the site.
The Times tweeted, linking to a story about the controversial past of this granite monument to four former presidents:
"Mount Rushmore was built on land that belonged to the Lakota tribe and sculpted by a man who had strong bonds with the Ku Klux Klan. It features the faces of 2 U.S. presidents who were slaveholders."
In doing so, The paper appeared to be lining up with the Democratic National Committee, which tweeted – and subsequently deleted – a claim that Trump's visit to Mount Rushmore was "glorifying white supremacy."
The Times does lay out its arguments against Mount Rushmore. But the timing of the piece may also be significant, coming amid intensifying criticism of the president's cooronavirus policies. Trump said this week, amid rises in coronavirus infections in some parts of the country, that masks would remain optional at the Rushmore celebration.
"Trump coming here is a safety concern not just for my people inside and outside the reservation, but for people in the Great Plains," Oglala Sioux president Julian Bear Runner told The Guardian. "We have such limited resources in Black Hills, and we're already seeing infections rising.
"It's going to cause an uproar if he comes here. People are going to want to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest, and we do not want to see anyone get hurt or the lands be destroyed."
The Times makes a case that Rushmore might well inspire damaging protests.
"Native Americans have long criticized the sculpture, in part because it was built on what had been Indigenous land," the Times wrote. "And more recently, amid a nationwide movement against racism that has toppled statues commemorating Confederate generals and other historical figures, some activists have called for Mount Rushmore to close.
"Critics of the monument have also taken issue with the men whose faces were etched into the granite," it continued, noting "each of these titans of American history has a complicated legacy. Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders. Roosevelt actively sought to Christianize and uproot Native Americans as the United States expanded.
". . . And although Lincoln was behind the Emancipation Proclamation — a move some have characterized as reluctant and late — he has been criticized for his response to the so-called Minnesota Uprising, in which more than 300 Native Americans were sentenced to death by a military court after being accused of attacking white settlers in 1862."
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