Trump says Confederate flag represents South and 'freedom of many things', insists it isn't offensive
The president reiterated his dislike for the cancel culture in an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace
President Donald Trump declined to call the Confederate flag a symbol of offense during a much-discussed interview with Fox News on Sunday, July 19 and instead called the banner a sign of pride for the South. The commander-in-chief's words came just a few days after the Pentagon diplomatically banned the same on military installations to evade the former’s ire.
Trump, who has been vocal against the protesters who have slammed the history linked with the Confederate times in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in May, was asked by Chris Wallace if he considered the flag offensive like many other Americans. The flag is deemed as a symbol of slavery and oppression by several.
“It depends on who you’re talking about, when you’re talking about,” Trump, 74, said. “When people proudly had their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South. They like the South ... I say it’s freedom of many things, but it's freedom of speech,” he added.
Trump has objected to the idea of renaming military bases that bear names of Confederate leaders besides lambasting the move to topple statues of past leaders, many of whom practised slavery. He has even threatened to veto a military bill if it allowed renaming forts that are named after Confederate generals.
Trump's emphatic 'no' to cancel culture
The president reiterated his disliking for the cancel culture, saying the Confederacy also has a role in US’s history. “I’m not offended either by Black Lives Matter, that’s freedom of speech. You know the whole thing with cancel culture — we can’t cancel our whole history. We can’t forget that the North and the South fought,” he said.
Wallace, who put some straightforward questions to the president, asked him about his stand against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) worth $740 billion. The president has taken an anti-stand against the act and threatened to scrap it even though it has been backed both by the Democrats and Republicans.
“The National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA, you have threatened to veto it…because in the bill it would rename army bases named for Confederate generals. Now, this is a bill that funds military operations, it gives soldiers a pay raise, you’re going to veto that?” Wallace asked the president.
“They’ll get their pay raise. Hey look, don’t tell me this. I got soldiers the biggest pay raises in the history of our military…I’ve done more for the military than any president that’s ever had this office,” Trump answered in an animated gesture.
Trump mocks Rev Sharpton
The president even used the occasion to mock his critic Reverend Al Sharpton, saying: “Because I think that Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, all these forts that have been named that way for a very long time. Fort Bragg is a big deal, we won two world wars...Are we going to name it after the Reverend Al Sharpton?" Sharpton though was not surprised by Trump's attack, however.
“We won two world wars, beautiful world wars that were vicious and horrible, and we won them out of all of these forts and now they want to throw all these names away. No, I’m against that,” he added.
Trump also revisited his 2016 stance during the contentious interview when Wallace asked him if he would accept the November 3 election results. When asked generally whether he is a “good loser”, Trump said he is not a good loser. He cited the 2016 instance when the same interviewer had asked him the same question during a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton and he did not give a clear answer. Wallace then sought a direct answer, making Trump say: “I have to see. Look, you — I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes.’ I’m not going to say no and I didn’t last time either.”