Story at a glance
- In a Fox News Channel special, President Trump was asked about recent efforts to remove Confederate statues and monuments.
- The president said he supported adding new statues but not removing old ones, citing heritage, history and artistic beauty.
- Trump also accused advocates of removing racist statues of not knowing the history behind the statues.
Across the United States, statues of Confederate figures and former slave owners are coming down as Black Americans demand justice after the police killing of George Floyd. The hundreds that still remain seem to be waiting in line for removal, but many Americans are still defending their existence in the name of heritage.
President Trump echoed those arguments during an interview on Fox News on Sunday when he was asked about efforts to remove these statues and monuments.
"You don’t want to take away our heritage and history and the beauty, in many cases, the beauty, the artistic beauty. Some of the sculptures and some of this work is some of the great — you can go to France, you can go anywhere in the world and you will never see more magnificent work. And that’s a factor. It’s not the biggest factor but it’s a factor," said the president.
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President Trump also accused protesters of not fully understanding the history behind the statues and monuments they wanted removed, questioning the recent removal of a statue of Union general Ulysses S. Grant, a former slave owner, in San Francisco and calls for the removal of memorials honoring Abraham Lincoln.
Over the weekend, protesters called for the removal of a statue of Lincoln that depicts the former president standing over a kneeling African American man, saying it suggests Black people were not actively involved in securing their own freedom. Others, however, point out that the statue was paid for by people who had been enslaved and memorializes the emancipation of Black slaves.
At the same time, President Trump said he supported the idea of building new statues, which have been suggested in place of removed statues.
Fox's Brian Kilmeade asked President Trump to address the Black community directly, saying, "you have done a lot for the African-American community." The president has previously claimed that he’s done more for the Black community than any president since Lincoln, in a Tweet that has since been debunked by the New York Times and the Washington Post, which point out major contributions of other presidents, including Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
My Admin has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln. Passed Opportunity Zones with @SenatorTimScott, guaranteed funding for HBCU’s, School Choice, passed Criminal Justice Reform, lowest Black unemployment, poverty, and crime rates in history…— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2020
In response, the President said, "We have a heritage, we have a history and we should learn from the history, and if you don’t understand your history, you will go back to it again. You will go right back to it. You have to learn. Think of it, you take away that whole era and you’re going to go back to it sometime."
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