President Trump is at his best when he travels the high road and stands on the high ground. He did just that at Mount Rushmore on Friday, July 3.
Unlike his predecessor, President Obama, who made the defining speech of his Presidency in Cairo, Egypt, on June 4, 2009, President Trump made his defining speech at one of America’s greatest monuments, in honor of Independence Day.
With the “cancel culture” in full metal jacket, President Trump came roaring back with an address for the ages. With monuments to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson already toppled in Portland, the Lincoln Memorial spray painted and vandalized, and the Theodore Roosevelt equestrian statue assigned for removal at the American Museum of Natural History, the President could not have picked a better time to raise the Flag of the United States and show the way forward. It was in stark contrast to the mayhem that had engulfed America since the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of members of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25. It was also an uplifting and energizing speech, compared to President Obama’s depressing and denigrating speech in Cairo.
President Obama chose Cairo for his quintessential Presidential address “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”
President Trump chose Mount Rushmore to “pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. I am here as your President to proclaim before the country and before the world: This monument will never be desecrated. These heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never, ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”
President Obama used his speech for the ages to berate Israel and praise the Muslim world. He said, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” He went on to say, “It is time for these settlements to stop.” President Obama carried out his wish on November 9, 2009, by imposing a ten-month “Settlement Freeze,” about which then Vice President Joe Biden chastised Israel on his visit there May 10, 2010, for Israel’s approving 1,600 units in “East” Jerusalem despite the fact that these units were three years in the making. President Obama further carried out his Cairo speech when he purposefully did not veto Resolution 2334 in the United Nations, which stated that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity.” President Obama’s speech brought about the “Arab Spring,” the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS, and the murder of 500,000 Syrians. It did not bring about Peace in the Middle East. Quite to the contrary, it brought about a Middle East on Fire.
President Trump, in stark contrast, used his once-in-a-lifetime speech to talk about America and how to “preserve our beloved American way of life.” He went on to criticize the “cancel culture”: “In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It is not going to happen to us. Make no mistake: This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress.” He later says, “Their goal is not a better America; their goal is the end of America.”
The New York Times headline for President Trump’s speech was: “Trump Uses Mount Rushmore to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message” and reported that he “delivered a dark and divisive speech.”
The Washington Post reported that President Trump gave a “harsh denunciation of the racial justice movement.” The next day, they ran an editorial headlined, “Trump Plumbed New Depths of Depravity This Fourth of July.” Neither statement could be further from the truth.
Conservative Rich Lowry nailed it when he entitled his op-ed “Trump’s Triumph at Mount Rushmore.” He says astutely, “Patriotic sentiments of the sort that have adorned American oratory for centuries were deemed hateful. A celebration of the Founders that once would have been the stuff of schoolbooks was considered controversial. A defense of the nation’s ideals was waved away.”
Mount Rushmore was President Donald Trump at his finest. He delivered exactly the type of speech America needed at a very critical time. It was a defining moment for the President and the nation. History will view it this way. Now it is up to the American people to see it that way, too.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.