President Donald Trump rejected the suggestion military bases should be renamed if they bear the identity of Confederate generals and decried the removal or toppling of historical statues of southern soldiers from the Civil War, saying the names and statues were gestures of healing.
"We have a very very important heritage and history, and whether things are good or bad, you learn from it, and you know the expression is, you make the same mistake again if you forget your history," Trump told Sinclair Broadcasting Group reporter Scott Thuman.
"And I think it's a very important thing, it's a very important part of our history. Seeing that, seeing what's done, and you know in some cases I agree, they were Confederate soldiers, generals, but they were done after the war in order to heal. This was a gesture of healing."
Historians have pointed to Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address as evidence he wanted to heal the divisions between the north and south, especially not condemn the remnants of the Confederacy with the line: "With malice toward none, with charity for all."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has ordered the removal of four former House speakers that served in the Confederacy from the U.S. Capitol building, saying they embodied "the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy."
She also has asked for the removal of 11 statues of Confederate figures from the Capitol. Pelosi's actions and demands have echoed calls from other Democrats and critics, who have claimed the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis was an example of system racism in the country.
In the same interview, Trump also suggested his tone could be softer when addressing the issue of race.
"I think that tone is a very important thing, and I try and have a very good tone, a very moderate tone, a very sympathetic — in some cases — tone," Trump said "I have to say, that probably if I could do anything, if I could have the time, if I had an extra 10 hours or 20 hours in a day, I would love to say tone."
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