President Donald Trump delivered a gloomy speech on race and remembrance after a summer of protest where he sought to tie violence and unrest to left-wing ideology and credited ‘indoctrination’ through schools with causing street rioting.
Trump made the comments at what was billed as a Conference on American History at the National Archives, which houses the nation’s most treasured documents.
He called for a new ‘1776 Commission’ he said will work to produce ‘patriotic education’ as a solution to ideological currents he cast as a grave threat to the nation.
President Donald J. Trump makes remarks at the White House Conference on American History in observance of Constitution Day at the National Archives in Washington, DC, USA, 17 September 2020
He warned attendees that ‘as we gather this afternoon, a radical movement is attempting to demolish this treasured and precious inheritance.’
The president tore into ‘radicals’ for causing ‘mayhem’ on the nation’s streets, and sought repeatedly to tie them to his political adversaries.
He didn’t confine his comments to street protesters – bringing in swaths of society that included the media and his political opponents.
‘These radicals have been aided and abetted by liberal politicians, establishment media and even large corporations,’ Trump said, in remarks that echoed in the marble halls of the Archives, which hold early and original copies of the Declaration as well as the Constitution.
He delivered his social critique slowly from a teleprompter – a device he has mocked Barack Obama and Joe Biden for using.
Trump ripped ‘cancel’ culture and education that stresses racial sensitivity or points to black marks on the records of the nation’s founders.
President Donald J. Trump holds up a ‘Constitution Day, Citizenship Day, and Constitution Week 2020’ proclamation he signed after making remarks at the White House Conference on American History in observance of Constitution Day at the National Archives in Washington, DC, USA, 17 September 2020
Trump spoke from the National Archives, where treasured founding documents are housed, and tore into rival Joe Biden
General View of the Robert E Lee Statue and surrounding area on August 30, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. The statue has been slated to be removed soon yet a temporary injunction keeps the statue in place. Robert E Lee Statue, Richmond, USA – 30 Aug 2020
Trump ripped the New York Times’ 1619 project
US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama addresses a rally before a statue of Revolutionary War hero Caesar Rodney 03 February 2008 on Rodney Square in Wilmington, Delaware. The statue was removed in June following George Floyd protests nationwide
Caesar Rodney (1728-1784) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence
The president did not specifically mention the Black Lives Matter movement, grew in prominence after a spate of police killings of blacks. Nor did he mention NFL players and others who have kneeled during the National Anthem.
‘Whether it is the mob on the street or the cancel culture in the boardroom the goal is the same. To silence dissent. To scare you out of speaking the truth and to bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage and their very way of life,’ Trump said.
Trump blasted ‘the left’ and accused it of trying to divide Americans – even seeking to link it to segregation and racism.
‘They want to impose a new segregation and we must not allow that to happen,’ the president said.
The president took long-held attacks on ‘political correctness’ in schools to a new level as he sought to smack down ‘critical race theory’ and efforts to take revisionist looks at the nation’s founding.
‘Teaching this doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse in the trust sense of those words,’ the president said.
In a passage that sought to throw an obvious wedge at rival Joe Biden, Trump called for a new addition to his ‘National Garden of American Heroes.’
He said the garden, which he called for amid attacks on statues of slaveholders, confederate generals, but also other people honored in the public square – should have a new addition: Delaware signer of the Declaration of Independence Cesar Rodney.
Who is Declaration signer Caesar Rodney?
Caesar Rodney was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who broke a tie within his state at the Philadelphia convention.
Delaware cast the decisive vote for adoption. Rodney was pro-Independence, although he was not consider a major intellectual framer.
He suffered from cancer of the face, and as President Trump recounted, he rode on horseback from Dover to Philadelphia despite his illness.
He held a number of political positions in his state as well as the militia, including president of Delaware during the American Revolution.
He inherited his father’s 200 slaves at the age of 17, and profited from them throughout his life. He provided for his slaves to be gradually freed upon his death.
A statue of Rodney on horseback stood in central Wilmington for nearly a century, being erected in 1923.
Wilmington officials removed it in June amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd. The Rodney statue and one of Christopher Columbus were removed to prevent them from potential damage. Mayor Mike Purzycki called it an ‘an overdue discussion about the public display of historical figures and events.’
President Trump called it a ‘a radical purge of America’s founding generation.’
Trump also blasted Joe Biden on the home-state issue. ‘Joe Biden said nothing as to his home state’s history. And the fact that it was dismantled dismembered, and a founding father’s statue was removed,’ said Trump.
He unloaded on his political rival while standing just feet from the nation’s most precious treasures of its intellectual history,’ and told of how a centrally located statue of Rodney on horseback was taken down from Rodney Square in Wilmington this summer.
Although not considered among the top tier of founders who shaped the nation, he cast the deciding vote for the Declaration of Independence.
‘Joe Biden said nothing as to his home state’s history and the fact that it was dismantled dismembered, and a founding father’s statue was removed,’ said Trump.
Joe Biden said nothing as to his home state’s history. Rodney inherited his family’s slaves, keeping them throughout his life but freeing them upon his death. He held multiple political offices, serving in the Continental Congress and serving as president of Delaware during the Revolution.
Trump also took on the New York Times’ 1619 project, which views the founding of the nation not only through the lens of its landmark achievements but also on the moral and economic implications of slave-owning society from the outset.
Trump chose Constitution Day to issue his denunciation of left-wing ideas he cast as an ‘assault’ on the nation, with Election Day just two months away.
The president launched his ‘law and order’ campaign after protests broke out across the country following the klling of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during his arrest by Minneapolis police.
‘The left has launched a vicious and violent assault on law enforcement – the universal symbol of the rule of law in America,’ said Trump, after a spate of physical attacks on police officers.
‘The left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools,’ he continued.
He said a ‘radical movement’ was ‘attempting to demolish this treasured and precious inheritance.’
A White House aide asked for any other events associated with the conference instead provided background material on the president’s remarks. He mentioned only three participants, including Professor Wilfred McClay at the University of Oklahoma.