President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday to defend “beautiful statues and monuments” to the slave-owning confederate states amidst a national effort to remove those statues from public grounds.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” the president tweeted Thursday. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.”
Echoing similar comments on the statues Trump made Tuesday, the president went on to suggest that removing those monuments to the confederate states — who rebelled to defend their right to own black people as slaves — was a slippery slope to removing statues of slave-owning founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Trump said the “beauty” of the statues “will be greatly missed,” but did not specify who would miss them.
The president’s Thursday morning Twitter rant comes amidst a firestorm of backlash to his unscripted Tuesday remarks equating white supremacists with the movement to protest their racist bile.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right? Do they have a semblance of guilt?” Trump asked of the counterprotesters at the Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. “What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands? Do they have a problem? I think they do.”
The violence at that rally — which saw KKK members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists gather to protest the city’s decision to remove a monument to Robert E. Lee — resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal who was killed when a driver plowed his vehicle through a crowd of pedestrians and anti-racism counterprotesters.
Trump was widely condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike for those remarks, which critics argued amounted to a defense of white supremacy. That defense triggered a spate of high-profile resignations from two of his job advisory councils, resulting in the dissolution of both boards.
Though Trump tweeted that disbanding the boards was his decision, the Wall Street Journal reported otherwise.
The president’s Thursday paean to the beauty of racist monuments follows an earlier tirade attacking members of his own party, including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham — one of Trump’s most tenacious critics in Congress — and Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who wrote a July op-ed attempting to galvanize the GOP against the president.