South Dakota governor criticizes removal of statues as effort to 'discredit' nation's principles

South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemGovernors' approval ratings drop as COVID-19 cases mount Noem: South Dakota students 'will definitely be in the classroom' this fall The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Yoho apologizes for accosting AOC MORE (R) criticized efforts to remove statues of historic figures in comments at a Fourth of July celebration Thursday night, stating that the efforts are being done to discredit the nation's founding principles,

“Across America these last several weeks, we have been witnessing a very troubling situation unfold. In real time, we are watching an organized, coordinated campaign to remove and eliminate all references to our nation’s founding and many other points in our history,” Noem said at the Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore with President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE.

“The approach focuses exclusively on our forefathers’ flaws, but it fails to capitalize on the opportunity to learn from their virtues,” she added. “Make no mistake, this is being done deliberately to discredit America’s founding principles by discrediting the individuals who formed them so that America can be remade into a different political image.”

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Statues across the county have been taken down over the last several weeks, sometimes by governments and sometimes by protesters taking actions themselves. 

Most of the statues and monuments that have been removed or face calls for removal are Confederate statues though there have also been calls to remove monuments or statues to former presidents who owned slaves.

In Portland, Ore., a group of protestors pulled down a statue of President Thomas Jefferson in front of a high school 

Noem did not mention Confederate statues directly in her remarks though her comments about "other points in history" strongly appear to reference it. 

Other Republicans also have seized on the campaign, saying the activists are trying to “erase” the country’s history.

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In his remarks, Trump said those taking down statues were trying to wipe out U.S. history.

“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” Trump later said. “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.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story drew too strong a link between the effort to take down Confederate statues and monuments and Noem's remarks. The headline and wording has been changed to more accurately reflect her comments.