by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s Friday visit to Mount Rushmore the New York Times published an article criticizing the racist history of the memorial, its sculptor, and the “complicated legacy” of the presidents represented on it.
The article, “How Mount Rushmore Became Mount Rushmore,” states that the national monument has “never been without controversy.” The article comes ahead of a planned Independence Day celebration at the monument featuring Trump, an event the Times says has “invited even more scrutiny of the monument’s history, the leaders it celebrates, the sculptor who created it and the land it towers over.”
Reporters Bryan Pietsch and Jacey Fortin note critiques of each of the four presidents featured on Mount Rushmore—criticizing George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as slaveowners, Theodore Roosevelt as “a racist” who “actively sought to Christianize and uproot Native Americans,” and even Abraham Lincoln, noting that “some have characterized [the Emancipation Proclamation] as reluctant and late.”
The article follows a Monday attack on Mount Rushmore by the Democratic National Committee, which wrote in a now-deleted social media post that Trump was “glorifying white supremacy” by hosting a fireworks display at the monument.
The Times article invoked immediate criticism from Republicans such as Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.), who just last month was targeted by what he calls the “woke mob” at the paper.
“Now, the woke mob at the New York Times is coming after Mount Rushmore,” Cotton said. “If we give this mob an inch, they’ll take a mile.”
Several past presidents, including Trump’s immediate predecessor Barack Obama, have visited Mount Rushmore. Obama visited the structure during his 2008 campaign for president, an event that was covered by the paper without mention of its “complicated legacy.”