Hours after a terrorist attack in Spain, US President Donald Trump recalled a debunked event in which Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, Governor of the Moro Province supposedly killed Muslim rebels in the Philippines by shooting them with bullets dipped in the blood of pigs, which Muslims are forbidden to eat. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Barcelona, where the driver of a van crashed into a busy tourist boulevard, killing 13.
“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught,” Mr. Trump tweeted, spreading a mythical story even as he again accused the news media of being “Fake News” in another tweet. “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
As when he trafficked in the same unproven legend during the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump ignored the conclusions of historians, who repeatedly have said it did not happen. Additionally, his claim that Pershing ended terrorism in the Philippines for 35 years is refuted by the violence that continued for decades after the rebellion that ended in 1913.
This is despite ongoing rebukes over his defense of white supremacists, President Trump defiantly returned to his campaign’s nativist themes on Thursday. He lamented an assault on American “culture,” revived a bogus, century-old story about killing Muslim extremists and attacked Republicans with a renewed vigor.
There was new evidence on Thursday that the political situation created by the president’s Charlottesville remarks was having an effect on Mr. Trump’s business. The Cleveland Clinic announced it was pulling out of a 2018 fund-raiser at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., and the head of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce urged businesses not to host events there.
The American Cancer Society, which had planned to hold its 2018 gala at Mar-a-Lago, announced it, too, would change the venue, citing its “values and commitment to diversity.”
The White House announced that Mr. Trump had decided to cancel plans to assemble a President’s Advisory Council on Infrastructure. The decision to abandon the business group came a day after a revolt among industry leaders on two other advisory panels forced the president to disband them.
And Carmen de Lavallade, 86, a dancer and choreographer who will be honored by the Kennedy Center in December, announced on Thursday that she will forgo the related reception at the White House.
“In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House,” Ms. de Lavallade, 86, said in a statement.
Photo: 13 Killed In Barcelona, Spain terror attack. ISIS claim responsibility
Mr. Trump’s remarks about the Civil War statues were also an echo of his campaign, and are not unlike sentiments in the South that the monuments and Confederate history reflect “heritage not hate” — a phrase commonly used by hate groups like the KKK.
“The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” he tweeted.
Lee was a slave-owning Confederate General (who was reportedly quite cruel to his slaves). He resigned from the Union army in order to fight for Virginia, his home state, and his likeness is seen as a symbol of Confederate pride. He’s been quoted as saying that slavery is a great “moral & political evil” as a defense, and many argue that he was a states’ rights advocate, but Lee’s position, and that quote, is often taken out of context.
The full quote by Robert E Lee reads:
“The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence”.
In other words: he thought that, while slavery was morally reprehensible for white Christians, it was beneficial, and even divined by God himself to “help” these slaves. That is literally the definition of white supremacy.
Many of these statues were erected in the 20th century, right around the start of Jim Crow. They were symbols meant to intimidate black people and remind them of their rightful place. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) put together a handy visual to show when the lion’s share of these statues were erected. The Charlottesville Lee statue, for example, was erected in 1924. There are Confederate monuments as far west as Seattle, which has a 1926 monument erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy. Washington wouldn’t become a state until 1889 — over 20 years after the Civil War ended.
When the construction of Confederate monuments began. It wasn’t a celebration of “heritage.” It was terrorism. Most monuments were erected between 1895 and World War I, coinciding with Jim Crow. Some were erected as late as the civil rights era.
They were part of a campaign to paint the Southern cause in the Civil War as just and slavery as a benevolent institution, and their installation came against a backdrop of Jim Crow violence and oppression of African Americans. The monuments were put up as explicit symbols of white supremacy.
So, of course white supremacists want to protect these statues. When white supremacists gather to protest the removal of these statues, they’re protesting the removal of symbols of overt white supremacy.
So when people call for the removal of these monuments, they’re not trying to erase history or run away from it. They’re trying to dismantle objects meant to terrorize.
The terror behind these monuments is one of the reasons why protesters toppled a Confederate monument outside of a courthouse in Durham, North Carolina. It’s why Baltimore quietly removed four Confederate statues in the dead of night.
It’s why, when black Americans say that these statues are symbols of oppression, we should listen. We have a long way to go, but toppling these terrifying symbols of white supremacy is a start.