Trump Has Dismantled More Monuments Than Any Protest Has
At a time when Donald Trump is promising lengthy prison sentences for anyone who destroys or dismantles a monument, it’s come to light that the president has actually destroyed more than any protest has.
On Saturday, June 20, at his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump defended the likes of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, whose statues have been defaced in recent weeks.
His comments come amid weeks of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers last month, which have seen hundreds of thousands of people fighting against racial inequality.
‘The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalise our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments,’ he said at the time, as per HuffPost, adding: ‘They want to demolish our heritage.’
Just a reminder: these so-called ‘beautiful’ statues celebrating Confederate figures such as Robert E. Lee effectively honour slavery and those who fought for it. The Confederacy fought the Civil War mainly to protect a southern society, of which slavery was an integral part.
These statues therefore have no place in today’s society, yet earlier this week, after protesters attempted to topple a statue of slave-owning President Andrew Jackson near the White House, Trump threatened demonstrators with prison time.
Taking to Twitter – because where else? – Trump said he had ‘authorised the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalises or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison’.
He went on to say this action is to be taken ‘effective immediately’ and there will be ‘no exceptions’, adding it ‘may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused’.
Clearly, the president does not have time for people who deface monuments – regardless of the fact they’re doing so because they represent an oppressive and racist society, and one in which Black people were treated as nothing more than property.
But this is where things get interesting, because it turns out Trump has done more damage to national monuments than these protesters could ever hope to do. Not for the reasons mentioned above, of course, but for reasons in his own best interest – namely ‘building a wall‘.
That’s right folks, it seems the president only cares about protecting the monuments he wants protected. Otherwise, he can do with them what he pleases.
In recent years, Trump has dismantled or desecrated four federally protected land and water sites with significant cultural, archaeological and natural resources. These rollbacks include carving more than two million acres from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah in December 2017.
The boundary of Bears Ears – a 1.35 million-acre landscape that several tribes consider sacred – was cut by a massive 85% while 1.87 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante – the largest land national monument in the country – was cut roughly in half.
Trump’s destruction doesn’t stop there though, because just this month, he signed a proclamation to greenlight commercial fishing within Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument – a vast protected site off the East Coast.
But wait, because there’s more. His administration has also bulldozed and blown up several Indigenous cultural and burial sites within Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a UNESCO biosphere reserve that is home to endangered species.
Why? To make way for the president’s wall along the US-Mexico border. Ned Norris Jr., the chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, has compared construction of the wall on sacred burial sites to desecrating Arlington National Cemetery.
So you see, it seems Trump really doesn’t care about protecting monuments. All he cares about is his own (extremely misguided and dangerous) ideals.
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