Trump urges protesters to stop destroying statues, asks them to 'learn from history' or risk going 'back to it'
The president, highly critical of protesters tearing down statues, signed an executive order making their protection a priority
As protesters around the country continue to target statues of confederate soldiers and generals in the wake of George Floyd's Memorial Day death, Donald Trump warned that these people should "learn from history" or risk going "back to it sometime."
The president has been critical of protesters tearing down statues around the country and recently signed an executive order that made their protection a priority for the Justice Department. "I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues – and combating recent Criminal Violence," he announced on Twitter this past week. "Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country."
He defended his reasoning behind the Executive Order in an interview with Fox News this past Sunday, June 28, where he insisted that people needed to learn from their "great" country's history and urged protesters to think again.
"My message is that we have a great country, we have the greatest country on Earth," he 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. People won't know about it. They're going to forget about it. It's okay," he added.
Trump shared that he had been upset by the recent questioning of George Washington's legacy and that some people wanted to take down the statues of the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Ulysses S. Grant without being aware of their contributions to the country. "You have to understand history, and our culture, and so many other aspects," he said. "But you can't take down George Washington. Here is the other problem that I have - a lot of these people don't even know what they are taking down."
After protests in Madison, Wisconsin, recently turned violent, protesters had targeted a statue dedicated to an abolitionist. A statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg, an anti-slavery activist who had fought and died for the Union Army, was unrooted and dragged away from its spot at the entrance to the statehouse. Another statue of the state's motto, 'Forward,' was not spared either. "I see what's happening on television, and they are ripping down things they have no idea what they are ripping down, but they started off with the Confederates and now go to Ulysses Grant so what is that all about?" Trump said.
Grant had beaten the Confederate Army and ended the Civil War before ascending to the presidency but had married into a family that owned slaves, reported the Daily Mail.
Trump said he was open to the idea of erecting new statues "to great people" and "people that have done something" but not at the cost of those that had already been put up.
"You don't want to take away our heritage and history and the beauty, in many cases, the beauty, the artistic beauty," he insisted. "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."