South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has vowed to protect the famous Mount Rushmore amid a campaign to tear down statues across the country that has quickly gone from attacking monuments of Confederate generals to those of former presidents.
“This is no longer about equality,” Noem told “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday. “This is a radical rewriting of our history and in South Dakota we will not support it.”
“Not under my watch,” the Republican governor tweeted Tuesday after conservative commentator Ben Shapiro joked that the chiseled faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln could be the next target for the “awakening of the historical revisionist priesthood. “
There is still no indication of any serious push against the towering monument and tourist attraction in South Dakota’s Black Hills, though Noem acknowledged Wednesday that there has been “some online activity where people have threatened” that Mount Rushmore could be targeted. of protests In addition, the figures represented have had their similarities elsewhere.
The groups began to destroy and disfigure statues in the wake of protests that erupted after George Floyd’s death in police custody. While those protests initially focused on racism and police brutality, it has escalated into a new phase.
“The more we focus on the failures of these men on our mountain, the less likely we are to recognize the virtues and lessons we can learn from their lives,” Noem said Wednesday.
“We will ensure that Mount Rushmore remains as majestic as it is today,” he added.
Host Ainsley Earhardt asked Noem how he plans to “stop him if he goes that far.”
“This is obviously a federal mountain, it is a national monument, it is something that we will partner with and use state resources to make sure we have security measures,” Noem said in response, adding that she “will not go into detail. “
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She went on to say that there are actions being worked on and acknowledged that “this threat to the mountain could remain in place for quite some time.”
“We are prepared to be there and diligent to protect it,” said Noem.
President Trump warned Tuesday that those involved in acts of vandalism could be jailed for up to 10 years.
“I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who destroys or destroys any federal monument, statue or other property in the United States with up to 10 years in prison, in accordance with the Veterans Monument Preservation Act or any other law that may be relevant, Trump tweeted, “This action takes effect immediately, but can also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused.”
“This whole conversation has changed,” Noem said Wednesday. “It has moved away from equality and is a radical movement that is rewriting our history, that will take away all the lessons we want to teach our children and grandchildren.”
She said George Washington “was unifying.”
“It brought this country together to lead us at a time when we needed the birth of the nation to begin,” Noem said.
He noted that Thomas Jefferson “was the author of the Declaration of Independence,” which noted that all men are created equal.
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“[Theodore] Roosevelt was the first man to dine with an African American in the White House, “he continued.
Noem acknowledged that “these men have flaws” and that “all leaders have flaws”, but added that “we are missing the opportunity we have in this discussion to talk about the virtues and what they brought to this country and the fact that this it is a foundation on which we are built and the heritage we should carry forward. ”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.