Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., says lawmakers should be open to having a national dialogue on removing statues of George Washington as protesters across the country tear down statues and monuments that have ties to racism.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Duckworth was asked on her thoughts about calls to remove monuments commemorating America’s founding fathers, including Washington and Thomas Jefferson, because they were slave owners.
“Well, let me just say we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point,” Duckworth told CNN host Dana Bash.
“But right now, we're in the middle of a global pandemic. And one of our countries that are opposed to us, Russia, has put a bounty on American troops' heads. What really struck me about this speech that the president gave at Mount Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead Confederates than he did talking about the lives of our 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19, or by warning Russia off of the bounties they're putting on Americans' heads.
“His priorities are all wrong here,” she added. “He should be talking about what we're going to do to overcome this pandemic. What are we going to do to push Russia back? Instead, he had no time for that. He spent all his time talking about dead traitors."
The movement to pull down Confederate monuments around the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police has picked up and extended to statues of slave traders, imperialists, conquerors and explorers around the world, including Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes and Belgium’s King Leopold II.
When Bash specifically asked about tearing down statues of Washington, suggesting she didn’t think anyone would call him a traitor, Duckworth responded: "I think we should listen to everybody. I think we should listen to the argument there but remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty."
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