President Donald Trump delivered a firm Independence Day eve vow to protect America and Mount Rushmore from "a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children."
"There could be no better place to celebrate America's Independence then to lead this magnificent, incredible, majestic mountain monument to the greatest Americans who have ever lived," Trump said in his speech in South Dakota, at the base of Mount Rushmore.
"I am here as your President to proclaim before the country and before the world: This monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never, ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom."
In one particularly forceful statement, Trump said "cancel culture" mobs are miscalculating Americans as "weak and submissive," but he said to cheers from over 7,500 onlookers, "Americans are strong and proud."
"Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders to deface the most sacred memorial and unleashed a wave of violent crime in our cities," Trump said. "Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing."
In the aftermath of protests over the death of George Floyd, calls for social justice have in some instances morphed into something else: Protesters have defaced, toppled or tried to destroy a number of statues honoring, among others, founding fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (because they owned slaves) and military leaders of the slave-holding Confederacy.
Trump has come down hard against such actions as contrary to efforts to remember and celebrate American history. He has taken various steps at the White House to pursue the vandals and criminalize such actions, even issuing an executive order against destroying American monuments, memorials and statues late last month.
"They think the American people are weak and submissive. But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them."
Trump said Friday night: "This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore. They defile the memory of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.
"Today, we will set history and history's record straight."
The Rushmore monument depicts the faces of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Trump said, "Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity, so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America's destiny."
He said protesters who have called for the removal of statues commemorating Confederate leaders and others "seek to dissolve the bonds of love and loyalty that we feel for our country, and for each other."
"The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets and cities that are run by liberal Democrats in every case is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions," Trump said. "Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains.
"The radical view of American history is a web of lies. All perspective is removed, every virtue is skewed, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted, and every flaw is magnified until the history purged in the record is disfigured beyond all recognition."
Before Trump's speech, longtime "Entertainment Tonight" host Mary Hart, a former Miss South Dakota, introduced Gov. Kristi Noem, who introduced Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt.
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.