U.S. President Donald Trump is at his most presidential when he takes the high road and stands on high ground. He did just that at Mount Rushmore on July 3.
Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, who made the defining speech of his presidency in Cairo, Egypt on June 4, 2009, Trump made his defining speech at one of America’s greatest monuments on the country’s Independence Day.
With the “cancel culture” in full gear, Trump delivered one of his best speeches to date. With monuments to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson already toppled in Portland, Oregon, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. spray-painted and vandalized and the Theodore Roosevelt equestrian statue at the Museum of Natural History in New York assigned for removal, the president could not have picked a better time to raise the flag of America and show the way forward.
It was in stark contrast to the mayhem that had engulfed America since the tragic death of African American George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer on May 25. It was also an uplifting and energizing speech compared to Obama’s depressing and denigrating oratory in Cairo.
Obama chose Egypt for his quintessential presidential address to “seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”
Trump chose Mount Rushmore to “pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world: This monument will never be desecrated. These heroes will never be defaced; their legacy will never, ever be destroyed; their achievements will never be forgotten; and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”
Obama used his speech for the ages to berate Israel and praise the Muslim world. He said, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”
He went on to say, “It is time for these settlements to stop.”
Obama carried out his wish on Nov. 9, 2009, by imposing a 10-month “settlement freeze.” Then-Vice President Joe Biden chastised Israel during his May 10, 2010 visit there for approving 1,600 apartments in “East Jerusalem,” despite the fact that these units were three years in the making. Obama further carried out his Cairo speech when he purposefully did not veto United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which stated that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity.”
Obama’s speech brought about the “Arab Spring,” the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS, and the murder of 500,000 Syrians. It did not bring about peace in the Middle East, but rather set the Middle East on fire.
Trump, in stark contrast, used his once-in-a-lifetime speech to talk about how to “preserve our beloved American way of life.”
He went on to criticize “cancel culture,” saying, “In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted and punished. It is not going to happen to us. Make no mistake: This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery and progress.”
He later said, “Their goal is not a better America; their goal is the end of America.”
The New York Times’ headline for the speech was: “Trump Uses Mount Rushmore Speech to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message” and reported that he “delivered a dark and divisive speech.”
The Washington Post reported that he gave a “harsh denunciation of the racial justice movement.”
The next day, it ran an editorial headlined, “Trump plumbed new depths of depravity this Fourth of July.”
Neither statement could be further from the truth. National Review editor Rich Lowry nailed it when he entitled his column on the speech: “Trump’s triumph at Mount Rushmore.”
He wrote astutely, “Patriotic sentiments of the sort that have adorned American oratory for centuries were deemed hateful. A celebration of the Founders that once would have been the stuff of schoolbooks was considered controversial. A defense of the nation’s ideals was waved away.”
Mount Rushmore was Trump at his finest. He delivered exactly the type of speech America needed at a very critical time. It was a defining moment for the president and the nation.
Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.