South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem hammered activists calling for the removal of Confederate statues, saying they are trying to “discredit” America’s founding fathers, The Hill reported.
“Across America these last several weeks, we have been witnessing a very troubling situation unfold. In real time, we are watching an organized, coordinated campaign to remove and eliminate all references to our nation’s founding and many other points in our history,” Noem said at a Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore with President Donald Trump.
“The approach focuses exclusively on our forefathers’ flaws, but it fails to capitalize on the opportunity to learn from their virtues,” she added. “Make no mistake, this is being done deliberately to discredit America’s founding principles by discrediting the individuals who formed them, so that America can be remade into a different political image.”
Lawmakers across the country are grappling with calls to take down Confederate iconography amid widespread protests over systemic racism and police brutality, The Hill adds.
Much of the focus has been on statues of and military bases named after Confederate figures, though some activists have also called for statues of other Americans who owned slaves, including former president Jefferson, to come down.
Republicans have seized on the campaign, saying the activists are trying to “erase” the country’s history.
“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” Trump later said. “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.”