As protests over the horrific police killing of George Floyd devolved into the looting, vandalism, and arson across America that destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments, Cancel Culture iconoclasts have vandalized and toppled statues of Confederate generals and Union generals, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. They even vandalized statues of Mahatma Gandhi and the first black Union volunteers. This raises the question of whether or not the rioters will target one of America’s most iconic monuments — Mount Rushmore.
“So, when is our woke historical revisionist priesthood going to insist on blowing up Mount Rushmore?” best-selling author Ben Shapiro mused on Twitter.
Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) powerfully shot down the idea. “Not on my watch,” she tweeted.
Not on my watch. https://t.co/U6gGap5Ib6
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) June 23, 2020
Mount Rushmore boasts the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Each of these men embodied American heroism and self-sacrifice in various ways, although each of them also had their faults.
Rioters and their allies have vandalized memorials to each of these presidents, scrawling “Y’all not tired yet” on the plinth at the Lincoln Memorial, removing a statue of Theodore Roosevelt from a New York City museum, and rioters in Portland, Ore., toppled statues of Washington and Jefferson.
When the rioters toppled the Washington statue, they spray-painted “1619” on it, echoing The New York Times‘s “1619 Project,” which aims to redefine American history by making the arrival of the first slaves in 1619 the focal point, rather than the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The 1619 Project justifies scrapping the entire American project — which has bolstered freedom and prosperity across the globe — in the name of racial justice.
As the vandalism of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment of black slaves demonstrates, however, this anti-American mob will not only target white people or white monuments.
President Donald Trump has announced he would lay down the law to stop the vandals and statue-topplers, and it appears Kristi Noem has a similar fortitude on this issue. As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned, “We cannot tolerate mob rule and we cannot allow it to go unpunished.”
The iconic busts of Mount Rushmore are not going anywhere anytime soon, and Trump announced that the federal government will prosecute those who have crossed state lines to topple statues or those who have vandalized monuments owned and operated by the federal government.
Mount Rushmore is a national treasure, and Kristi Noem deserves credit for standing up for this iconic monument.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.