I had very good reasons for missing Comrade Trump’s 3rd of July speech at Mt. Rushmore. First, it was a Friday evening, and I needed to watch an episode of a 2018 British cop show that streams on Acorn. Second, it was Trump giving a speech — which meant it would either be an ad-libbed hateful rant full of free-floating racism or a dreary monotonous recitation of buzzwords interrupted too frequently with adverbs and adjectives. And third, I’d rather watch an episode of a two-year-old British cop show translated into classical Náhuatl than listen to Trump give a speech.
But I read it this morning. And let me just say this: Lawdy.
The speech reads like it was written by H.P. Lovecraft, if Lovecraft had a limited vocabulary and was writing for Twitter. It was awkward at best, full of woefully clumsy and ridiculous dark images of modern American. It was profoundly paranoid.
“Our children are taught in school to hate their own country. And to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but they were villains. The radical view of American history is a web of lies. All perspective is removed. Every virtue is obscured. Every motive is twisted. Every fact is distorted and every flaw magnified until the history is purged.”
History, totally purged. You know, they warned us this would happen if we took pale Jeebus out of the schools and substituted many-tentacled Cthulhu.
The entire speech was deeply weird. Trump seemed to confuse the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Or maybe he thought they were the same war, it’s hard to say. He apparently thinks protesters are trying to bring down statues of Revolutionary War figures who sang a song written a century or so after they died.
“In toppling the heroes of 1776, they seek to dissolve the bonds of love and loyalty that we feel for our country and that we feel for each other. Their goal is not a better America. Their goal is to end America…. By tearing down Washington and Jefferson, these radicals would tear down the very heritage for which men gave their lives to win the Civil War. They would erase the memory that inspired those soldiers to go to their deaths, singing these words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic: ‘As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free while God is marching on.'”
Trump ended the evening by telling us that “American freedom exists for American greatness” and that our legacy has something to do with champions and monuments. Then, of course, there were fireworks.
This entire event was perfectly in keeping with the Trump brand. It was a hateful, divisive, political speech full of lies. It was given in a location considered sacred by the native population (who objected to the event). It was given during the worst pandemic in a century (which was exacerbated by Trump’s failure to take it seriously), with no real attempt to reduce transmission of Covid-19 by using face masks, and no real chance of any social distancing (in part because the 7500 audience seats were zip-tied together to reduce the likelihood of them becoming obstacles in case an emergency escape was necessary during, say, a wildfire). And it concluded with a fireworks display (the first in more than a decade because a long term infestation of pine beetles has turned the local Ponderosa pine population into something resembling kindling) during a period of moderate drought.
The whole thing would be comical if it weren’t real.