In yet another propaganda-style interview with Fox News, Donald Trump insultingly suggested that Black people “don’t understand” their own history and warned that they could “go back to it” if racist statues continue to be torn down or removed.
Confederate statues have been torn down or removed across the country amid mass protests against racial injustice and police brutality that began with the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Trump, of course, has taken to complaining about the statue removals by insisting that they comprise a critical part of America’s “heritage” and that Americans will somehow forget about our history without them.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade asked Trump about the statue removals, but only after prefacing his question by making it seem like Trump is an authority on history and the Black community.
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“Since you have done a lot for the African-American community, what is your message to them when their ancestors were enslaved because of [those glorified by statues]?
Trump replied by suggesting that Black people “don’t understand” their own history and seemed to suggest that their history will be repeated if the statues come down.
“My message is that we have a great country, we have the greatest country on Earth,” Trump 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.”
Trump went on to promote building new statues and claimed that statues are works of art that should remain.
Now what I do like, I like the idea of building new statues to people, to great people. People that have done something. And I think that’s okay.
But you don’t want to take away our heritage and history and the beauty, in many cases, the beauty, the artistic beauty. 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.”
Here’s the video:
Let’s make this clear. The history Trump is presumably warning that African-Americans will repeat includes slavery and segregation. It almost sounds like a threat.
But Black people know their history in this country, and it hasn’t been rosy. Statues have been torn down in this country since the American Revolution and around the globe for centuries. That doesn’t mean it’s forgotten, however. Iraqis tore down statues of Saddam Hussein and he is still remembered. So is Adolf Hitler and there are no statues of him in Germany.
The same will be true of Confederate generals after their statues — most of which were erected during segregation and the Civil Rights Era to intimidate Black populations and resist racial justice — are gone.
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