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Pres. Trump blasts protestors, removal of Confederate flag, statues

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Jul 9, 2020 - 1:03:20 PM

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WASHINGTON— Even as President Donald J. Trump’s popularity continues to swoon, according to multiple opinion polls, and Republican leaders called for him to correct his course, Mr. Trump only intensified his hateful, nativist, White-identity messages over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

After being told by safety experts and the Oglala Sioux president Julian Bear Runner that his visit, speech, and fireworks show at the sacred Mountain of Six Grandfathers—Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills—amounted to an environmental and coronavirus health risk, and invasion of their sacred territory, Mr. Trump persisted, traveling there and filling his talk with inflammatory rhetoric.

Crowds of people cheering for President Trump at the 2020 Mount Rushmore fireworks celebrations event, July 4. Photo: MGN Online

“Trump coming here is a safety concern not just for my people inside and outside the reservation, but for people in the Great Plains. We have such limited resources in Black Hills, and we’re already seeing infections rising,” Mr. Bear Runner said in an interview with The Guardian.

“I think that Donald Trump has shown us time and time again who he is,” Patty Talahongva, executive producer of Indian Country Today told this writer in an interview. “So as reporters, we covered him when he was making fun of a blue star mother, a mother of a veteran (killed in combat). And we’ve seen him make all kinds of disparaging remarks about all kinds of people. So, this is not unusual. This is a continuation of what he’s done.”

“This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore,” Mr. Trump said. He lamented what he called the “cancel culture” and charged that some of his opponents hope to “defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.” He said Americans should speak proudly of their heritage and shouldn’t have to apologize for its history.

“(Mr.) Trump is the most wretched man to ever become President and his vile reign has cloaked America in a shared national misery. Mass Death, economic collapse, division and a profound betrayal of the U.S. Military are his fetid legacy. His failures will be aglow in the Black Hills,” the Rev. William Barber, convenor of Repairers of the Breech and the Poor Peoples Campaign said via social media.

“Trump has no right to go on Sioux nation lands to Mt. Rushmore. He should instead ensure First Nation indigenous people have what they need to fight COVID-19 & stop corp’s from stealing & drilling on holy lands,’ the Rev. Barber continued.

“#45 does not give a (%*#$) if you get Sick or Dead from #Covid19. It’s an acceptable loss for him, he tells lies: about death rates, Covid19 will go away disappear, he holds open meetings with no requirements for Mask or distance. Listen to #publichealth not #45 @WhiteHouse,” retired Gen. Russel Honore, a Black man who commanded troops in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina told his followers via Twitter.

The Black Hills belong to the Lakota Sioux Nation according to sacred treaties signed in 1851 and 1868. But those treaties were violated when gold was discovered there, and the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt were sculpted into the rock, as a tourist attraction, begun in 1927 and completed in 1941.

In late June, when multiple polls showed the incumbent president trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by double digits, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.)— the No. 2 GOP leader in the chamber—conceded that Mr. Trump needed a course correction. “Right now, obviously, Trump has a problem with the middle of the electorate, with independents, and they’re the people who are undecided in national elections,” Sen. Thune told reporters. “I think he can win those back, but it’ll probably require not only a message that deals with substance and policy but, I think, a message that conveys, perhaps, a different tone.”

But throughout the holiday weekend, Mr. Trump waged an all-out culture war on his perceived enemies, during what is customarily a “patriotic” time, with partisan politics set aside. “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” the president declared at a fireworks rally at the White House July 4. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”

Mr. Trump promised to issue an executive order which would build a National Garden of Statues which would include Susan B. Anthony, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart and Harriet Tubman. And as calls for police reform continue across the country, he praised police officers he’d invited to the White House South Lawn, saying many have been “facing down violent assaults by very bad people.”

Mr. Trump then took to Twitter again July 6, this time disparaging Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, a Black NASCAR driver calling the incident involving a noose found in his assigned garage at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, a “hoax.” He also blasted NASCAR for banning the Confederate flag at its events.

The president suggested Mr. Wallace should apologize after NASCAR and several drivers rallied around him after the noose was found. Federal authorities stated in mid-June the noose had been hanging since October 2019 and was not a hate crime. NASCAR and the FBI have exclusively referred to the rope—which was used to pull the garage door closed—as a noose, reported AP and several media outlets.

The president’s caustic rhetoric seemed to mute the tide of complaints and calls for investigations into allegations verified by numerous news agencies that he knew about, but did nothing about intelligence reports that Russia had paid bounties to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to murder U.S. troops there.

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering cash rewards to the Taliban to kill Americans, a full year earlier than had been previously reported, U.S. officials told the Associated Press. The assessment was included in at least one of Mr. Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. John Bolton, who was then the national security adviser, also told colleagues that he briefed the president on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.

The White House did not respond to questions from AP about Mr. Trump or other officials’ awareness of the alleged Russian provocations. Mr. Trump has denied being briefed on the intelligence and suggested the reports are not credible.