- President Donald Trump has repeatedly taken a stand against removing symbols or monuments to the Confederacy.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday defended the president in this regard.
- “We need to have a balanced view of history,” Mnuchin said.
- As coronavirus continues to devastate communities across the US, and amid nationwide protests over racism and police brutality, Trump has focused heavily on the Confederate monument issue.
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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday stood behind President Donald Trump’s defence of Confederate monuments, stating the US needed to have a “balanced view of history.”
Amid a nationwide discussion over racism and police brutality, which has prompted mass protests, there have been growing calls for Confederate monuments across the country to be taken down and for US military bases named after Confederate generals to be renamed.
Trump has taken an outspoken stance against this as he simultaneously continues to condemn the Black Lives Matter movement. The president recently threatened to veto an annual defence bill if it includes a provision to rename military installations named for Confederate leaders. He also in late June signed an executive order on protecting monuments.
Meanwhile, with his reelection prospects looking dimmer by the day, Trump has increasingly employed the rhetoric of white supremacists in an effort to rile up his base and increase divisions in the US. On Sunday, Trump was widely criticised after retweeting a video in which a supporter yelled “white power.” Hours later, Trump finally deleted the tweet.
In this context, Mnuchin on Thursday was asked by Liz Goodwin of the Boston Globe if Trump is truly focused on combatting the coronavirus pandemic, or if he’s more concerned with upholding symbols of the Confederacy.
Mnuchin in response said that Trump is “focused on everything,” describing Confederate monument issue as “complicated.”
“We need to have a balanced view of history,” Mnuchin said.
When asked if Trump would apologise for the “white power” tweet, which he ultimately deleted, Mnuchin said, “We’re here to talk about economics.”
Most Americans support removing Confederate monuments
The Confederacy was a traitorous army that fought a war to perpetuate slavery in the US. It was the bloodiest conflict in US history – it’s estimated as many as 750,000 were killed.
Many of the Confederate monuments in the US were not built until well into the Jim Crow era, years after the Civil War ended. Many historians have said that the monuments were built as white supremacist propaganda, and meant to send a message to Black Americans pushing for desegregation and civil rights.
“Most of the people who were involved in erecting the monuments were not necessarily erecting a monument to the past. But were rather, erecting them toward a white supremacist future,” Jane Dailey, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago, told NPR in 2017.
A majority of US voters (52%) support removing Confederate statues from public spaces around the country, according to a June Quinnipiac University poll. Protesters have torn down Confederate statues in recent weeks. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, on Tuesday signed a bill to remove the Confederate battle emblem the state’s flag. The Democratic mayor of Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy, on Wednesday ordered the “immediate removal” of all Confederate monuments on city property.
In short, Trump is swimming against the current of history by defending symbols of the Confederacy.
America's great military bases are known for the heroes within them, and any effort to change the names of these great forts is opposed by President @realDonaldTrump.
President Trump will ALWAYS stand with our heroic military men and women! pic.twitter.com/BzCRVvtazq
— Kayleigh McEnany 45 Archived (@PressSec45) June 11, 2020
Trump paints a rosy picture of the economy, even though America is still in crisis
Mnuchin’s comments on Thursday came during a press conference in which the president sought to put a positive spin on the dismal state of the US economy, which is forecasted to get worse in the coming weeks and months as coronavirus cases spike in the US.
The US economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June, and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1%, the Bureau of Labour Statistics reported on Thursday. The unemployment rate, however, is still higher than at any point during the Great Recession and the US economy is still down almost 14.7 million jobs since February.
The economy got a boost from states easing coronavirus restrictions, but cases of the virus are also surging at an alarming rate, prompting governors and mayors to re-institute various precautionary measures. Despite Trump’s rosy depiction of the US economy, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty in this arena as coronavirus continues to reek havoc across the country.