WASHINGTON — Under fire for defending racist activist groups, President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Thursday that he was “sad” to see United States’ history torn apart by the removal of “our beautiful statues and monuments,” echoing a popular refrain of white supremacist groups that oppose the removal of Confederate monuments.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson —who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” Trump posted on Twitter.
Officials in several states have called for the removal of monuments that have become symbols of the Confederacy.
Later Thursday, Trump sent out a tweet praising the tactics of Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, who fought insurgents in the Philippines in the early 1900s.
“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” Trump wrote.
Most historians say the episodes cited by the president — including ordering bullets dipped in the blood of pigs, which Muslims are prohibited from eating — are unproven legends stemming from battles around 1911. The rebellion did not end until 1913, and the region was still chaotic for decades after Pershing’s time there — indicating that even if the tactics took place, they did not work.
The Twitter posts were the latest Trump remarks that critics contend validate white supremacist groups who led a bloody rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va. The proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park spurred the demonstrations.
Trump’s comments on the Confederate monuments Thursday appeared to shift attention away from his remarks that “both sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, and instead focus the debate on the historical argument to keep the statues in place.