Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois said Sunday that taking down statues of George Washington is something the nation should consider.
Duckworth appeared on the CNN show “State of the Union” and was asked by substitute host Dana Bash to take a stand on the issue.
“In your view, where does it end? Should statues, for example, of George Washington come down?” Bash asked.
“Well, let me just say that we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point,” Duckworth said.
She then tried to shift ground.
“But, right now, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. And our — one of our ally — one of our — countries that are opposed to us, Russia, has put a bounty on American troops’ head,” she said, referencing a story from The New York Times that made claims officials have strongly disputed about whether Russia put bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Duckworth then tried to paint Trump as only interested in monuments to Confederate heroes.
“What really struck me about this speech that the president gave at Mount Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead Confederates than he did talking about the lives of our American — 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19, or by warning Russia off of the bounty they’re putting on Americans’ heads,” she said.
“I mean, his priorities are all wrong here. He should be talking about what we’re going to do to overcome this pandemic. What are we going to do to push Russia back? And, instead, he had no time for that. He spent all his time talking about dead traitors,” she said.
Duckworth’s claim was false; Trump didn’t mention Confederate statues in his Mount Rushmore address.
“Today, we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt,” he said according to a White House transcript of his remarks. “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.”
“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” the president said. “Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them.”
He added, “Our people have a great memory. They will never forget the destruction of statues and monuments to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, abolitionists and many others.”
During the CNN show, Bash asked Duckworth again about removing statues of Washington.
“I think we should listen to everybody. I think we should listen to the argument there,” she said.
Duckworth then sought to attack Mount Rushmore as well as the president.
“But remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty,” she said.
The senator said other issues are more important than statues.
“And again, let’s talk about the greater context of where we are in our country right now,” Duckworth said. “We should be talking about the fact that COVID-19 is experiencing a resurgence, and both this president and the man he put in charge of the pandemic response team, the vice president, have both failed miserably at their jobs.
“I’m more worried about the 130,000 who have lost their lives recently and the thousands and thousands more Americans who are currently sick than I am about our historical past. We need to talk about what we’re doing now to bring this country off of the brink of chaos that it’s in.”
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