Rich Lowry / Jul. 7, 2020

A Triumph at Mount Rushmore

If nothing else, President Donald Trump's July Fourth speech at Mount Rushmore clarified the battle lines of our culture war.

If nothing else, President Donald Trump’s July Fourth speech at Mount Rushmore clarified the battle lines of our culture war.

The New York Times called the speech “dark and divisive,” while an Associated Press headline declared, “Trump pushes racial division.” A Washington Post story said the speech “crystallized” the president’s “unyielding push to preserve Confederate symbols and the legacy of white domination.”

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth insisted that Trump “spent all his time talking about dead traitors.”

To be clear — and despite all of this — the media and the left didn’t freak out about a speech extolling the valor of Robert E. Lee, the statesmanship of Jefferson Davis or the prowess of Nathan Bedford Forrest. They didn’t scorn a speech pining for Antebellum America or expressing ambiguity about the Civil War. They didn’t pan a speech that slighted the quest for justice and civil rights throughout American history.

As a matter of fact, Trump didn’t mention any Confederates at all. He hailed Abraham Lincoln at length and called the Civil War “the struggle that saved our union and extinguished the evil of slavery.” He cited the repulse of Pickett’s charge and quoted the Battle Hymn of the Republic. He said we must defend “the principles that propelled the abolition of slavery in America,” and “the ideas that were the foundation of the righteous movement for civil rights.”

It’d be difficult to get a more textbook expression of the American civic religion than the speech at Rushmore. It’d be difficult to get a more wide-ranging appreciation of the warriors, inventors, adventurers, reformers, entertainers and athletes that have made the country what it is. It’d be difficult to get a more affirming account of the greatness of America and its meaning to the world.

And, yet, the speech was tested and found wanting.

Trump’s attacks on what he called “a new far-left fascism” and a cultural revolution “designed to overthrow the American Revolution” were indeed hard-edged, but who can doubt the basic truth of the claims?

There’s a fear afoot in the land, as a merciless authoritarian spirit informs a spate of firings and cancellations. The day before Trump’s speech, a Boeing executive resigned over something he had written … in 1987.

Protestors have targeted commemorations of every single one of the presidents etched on Mount Rushmore, who the day before yesterday would have been completely unassailable giants of American history. Vandals splashed red paint on statues of Washington in New York City and the aforementioned Tammy Baldwin said she’s open to having a conversation about whether statues of the Father of the Country should still stand.

The setting for Trump’s speech is itself now deemed problematic. A CNN report previewing the event said Trump “will be at Mount Rushmore, where he’ll be standing in front of a monument of two slave owners and on land wrestled away from Native Americans.”

There’s no doubt that Trump is a deeply flawed messenger. Indeed, days after the speech, he, out of nowhere, attacked NASCAR on Twitter for banning the display of Confederate flags.

But it wasn’t just Trump the messenger who was attacked in the aftermath of the Mount Rushmore speech; it was the message.

Patriotic sentiments of the sort that have adorned American oratory for centuries were deemed hateful and divisive. A celebration of the Founders that once would have been the stuff of schoolbooks and primers was considered controversial. A defense of the nation’s ideals was waved away. No, nothing to see here — only hate and division.

Surely, if some other Republican president had given the Mount Rushmore speech the pushback wouldn’t have been as intense. But this isn’t just about Trump. It goes much deeper.

Critics of the speech objected to what they said was its wildly exaggerated account of the stakes in the culture war — and at the same time, vindicated that account by equating patriotism with white supremacy.

© 2020 by King Features Syndicate

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.