South Dakota Attorney General on significance of Trump kicking off Independence Day at Mount Rushmore
The National Park Service under President Barack Obama was at the forefront of the left’s “cancel culture” when it nixed fireworks over Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota a decade ago, citing environmental concerns related to gunpowder. I found such concerns absurd.
Fortunately, things are different under President Trump’s leadership.
President Trump will be in attendance Friday when – for the first time in 10 years – South Dakotans and Americans will once again behold fireworks bursting in midair, illuminating Mount Rushmore’s 60-foot tall busts of some of our nation’s great leaders and celebrating the inception of our nation and the freedom and independence for which it stands.
“The president looks forward to taking part in the Independence Day festivities, hosted by Governor [Kristi] Noem, and celebrating the greatest country the world has ever known capped off with a magnificent fireworks display above the great faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
Unfortunately, this celebration of America’s greatness and potential has been met with great controversy in a year that has proven itself to be one of great turmoil.
The debate over Mount Rushmore’s future is one that should not require South Dakota’s governor or attorney general to have to rise to the defense of the Shrine of Democracy.
Mount Rushmore is a gateway to American exceptionalism. It is a larger-than-life reminder that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln – legends of leadership and democracy – were, despite any personal shortcomings, indeed larger than life and graced with a vision of what America can be.
I have donned our nation’s uniform for decades as an Army officer, stateside and on the fields of battle in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have proudly defended this nation that endlessly protects free speech and assembly. It pains me that we have people within our nation who think that toppling a monument to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt would somehow make our nation a better place.
It saddens me that after centuries of respecting our nation’s history and principles – including the mistakes we have learned from and built upon – we are trading majority rule and minority rights for mob rule and no rights for anyone who has the nerve to disagree.
There may be merit in replacing some statues or in changing some relics of the past, but the way to bring about change is not through vandalism, terror and destruction.
We are a nation established on due process and the rule of law. We need look no further than Mississippi, where the democratic process worked as intended when the governor signed legislation Tuesday to remove the symbol of the Confederate battle flag from the state flag.
It pains me that we have people within our nation who think that toppling a monument to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt would somehow make our nation a better place.
Unfortunately, those advocating and instigating chaos across our country believe that only the “cancel culture” will make America share more diverse viewpoints. They believe that, somehow, we will all be safer by dismantling not only police departments but also free enterprise and free speech – and they will shout you down if you disagree.
While many conservatives are calling out the “cancel culture” – and the peril of the ill-conceived “defund the police” movement – many national Democrats have surprisingly chosen to remain silent – or worse yet, fan the flames.
These “leaders” encourage their lawless liberal supporters to desecrate and erase the memory of presidents like Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant – men who ended slavery by fighting and winning the Civil War, and ushered in new freedoms for our country.
The reality is that vandalism, looting and toppling of statues and monuments of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Grant, Christopher Columbus, Francis Scott Key and others have nothing to do with ensuring equality or domestic tranquility today.
These acts do have everything to do with a modern-day “cancel culture” aiming to destroy everything lawless liberals hate.
Right now their targets are our Founding Fathers, our history, our flag and our police departments. What will their next targets be if the supporters of the “cancel culture” are successful?
Fortunately for South Dakota, Gov. Noem is correct in saying that Mount Rushmore will not be erased on our watch and this will not be our last chance to see fireworks there as we observe the birthday of our nation.
As a South Dakotan and as an American, I believe it is time to put an end to this chaos. It is time to stand together this Independence Day to keep South Dakota safe, keep America safe and remember all that makes America great.
Jason Ravnsborg is South Dakota attorney general.
Author: Jason Ravnsborg