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US President Trump celebrated July 4 Independence Day at Controversial Mount Rushmore Event

  • The US President Donald Trump has celebrated Independence Day on July 4 (Friday) by holding a rally at Mount Rushmore. He used this event to decry protesters who have toppled Confederate, patriarchal and colonial monuments from coast to coast. Trump went on to glorify American history's heroes and railed against the “cancel culture” that made “angry mobs” to deface “most sacred memorials” of American history. President Trump also said that the protesters are carrying out “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children”. When the US witnessed the largest single-day rise in COVID-19 infections on Friday, masks and social distancing were not mandatory at the Mount Rushmore event. Selection of the Mount Rushmore location was controversial especially when the United States is fuming from the continued injustice against black people. The mountain having the carved faces of four US Presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt) is located in South Dakota's Black Hills, which is regarded by the Native Americans as the sacred Black Hills. To many Native Americans, four white faces carved into the granite of Black Hills are a reminder of similar oppression of native lives by the white supremacists. The Supreme Court in 1980 ruled the Black Hills to be Native Land. At the time when the US is fuming against racial discrimination, especially after the brutal killing of a black person named George Floyd, the US President’s choice of the Mount Rushmore location only fueled the anger of black people as both the former US Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners. While speaking to a cheering crowd of more than 7,500 people at the South Dakota landmark, the US President Donald Trump said that the four faces of the former US Presidents at Mount Rushmore will “stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom… This monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defaced.” Despite concerns over wildfires, a fireworks display was held over the Black Hills. The US government took the concerned native land from the indigenous Lakota Sioux in the 1800s and the Mount Rushmore landmark was carved during 1927-1941. Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Harold Frazier, said: “The president is putting our tribal members at risk to stage a photo op at one of our most sacred sites.” While South Dakota's Republican Governor Kristi Noem said that the demonstrators are “trying to wipe away the lessons of history” by desecrating the monuments, the Native Americans don’t celebrate July 4 Independence Day because they associate it with the colonization of their tribal homelands as well as the loss of their cultural freedoms.