On the eve of the day commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence that united people in 13 colonies, President Donald Trump tried to break us apart ("Trump takes patriotic case to Mt. Rushmore," front page, July 4).
Trump attacked American citizens protesting killings of African Americans by police and demanding justice, and he claimed "the American people ... will not allow our country and all of its values, history and culture to be taken from them."
Maybe our current president could have learned some of these "values, history and culture" from the four presidents looming over him at Mount Rushmore?
George Washington tells him not to invite foreign interference in elections: "Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence ... the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government." Instead, Trump says: "Russia, if you're listening ... "
Thomas Jefferson advises him that "honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." I guess that was in the presidential briefing book that he doesn't read and therefore also didn't see the reports on the pandemic and Russian bounties on American soldiers.
Theodore Roosevelt reminds him that "no man is above the law and no man is below it" but Trump rejects this value, stating, "I have the right to do whatever I want as president."
Abraham Lincoln? If Trump truly embraced the "values, history and culture" popularly ascribed to Lincoln as the Great Emancipator, then he would be joining the protesters in the streets. And as the Declaration of Independence we commemorate proclaims: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," not just those who like or are like the president.
Trump succinctly indicts himself with his own rhetoric, seeking to "transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance and turn our free society into a place of repression, domination and exclusion."
Brad Engdahl, Golden Valley
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The unprincipled state of American journalism was on full display when the Star Tribune and many other leading newspapers reported that Trump's Independence Day address at Mount Rushmore was dark and divisive. The Star Tribune's online version of the story argued that the president "dug deeper into America's divisions by accusing protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a 'merciless campaign to wipe out our history.' " Were we not living in an upside-down world, his speech would have been an unexceptional tribute to all that our nation has accomplished in its 244-year history. He invoked the heritage and dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. for a color-free country where character was the gold standard. He encouraged Americans to continue to advance the "march of freedom" that we have been on ever since we endured a Civil War that killed 700,000 Americans.
Trump was right when he made clear that two wildly different visions for America are battling for supremacy. It remains true that perhaps a majority of Americans retain reverence for the consensual government that our admittedly imperfect founders gave us. Those folks believe that America has done immense good in the world in terms of providing liberty and a higher quality of life for millions. A radical minority consider America inherently racist and imperialist. Their objective is the complete overthrow of the country we have known since 1776. Consider the agenda of Black Lives Matter, which advocates for the end of "the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement," according to the movement's website.
Trump had every right and obligation to summon us all to recall the enormous good that came from our Declaration of Independence. It is more than dispiriting that our major news outlet would do such injustice to the president's uplifting speech.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
Key's faults aren't why we sing
I've thought about our national anthem often. In fact, I've heard and sung the national anthem at sporting events and other places hundreds of times. Whenever I hear it, I think of Francis Scott Key watching the shelling of Fort McHenry near Baltimore by the British Navy. I think about his genius in writing over 200 years ago the rather complex verses that require careful study to understand what he's experiencing.
At those times, I don't think about Key as the slaveholding lawyer who profited greatly from this enterprise. That's because it has nothing that I can think of to do with the national anthem. If we were honoring Key for his slaveholding operation, that'd be a different story. But we're not. If we were to cast aside all people who were involved in slavery and all remembrances of slavery, injustice and harsh treatment toward others when we decide which buildings to rename, which statues to remove, which books we should ban, and so forth, we will need a new national anthem and a new flag, and we would live in a very different country.
Removing statues and renaming buildings, bridges, stadiums and the like does not change history. Nor is history erased. History was. History is. History needs to be preserved in the most appropriate way possible, taught and studied and learned from, as it is a statement of the growth of our country and the improvements we've made. History is also a statement of our failure to properly deal with it.
Loren W. Brabec, Braham, Minn.
Don't reward mobs like this
Thanks to the Star Tribune for printing the July 3 commentary, "Changing names doesn't change the gift." The author, Ross Douthat, provides an analysis needed to counter the knee-jerk cancel culture vs. clinging to history as interpreted 50 years ago.
Any monument or statue defaced or destroyed by so-called "protest" or mob violence should be fully restored with the work done and/or paid for by the vandals. Then a legitimate commission, authorized by elected officials, may consider the historical context and make rational decisions on removing a given monument balancing the overall contributions and sins of the person or organization being honored.
Mob violence should never be rewarded with success, as it is antithetical to our concept of democracy.
Barbara Keating, Mankato, Minn.
Where's the national uproar?
Black Lives Matter should change its name — not to All Lives Matter as some argue, because that slogan just minimizes the tragedy of what is happening to Black people on the streets of America. But a more appropriate title would be Some Black Lives Matter, because the BLM movement seems to be concerned only with violence and death when it involves police action. Why don't we hear from the organization when dozens of African Americans are shot over the July 4th weekend, including children? These horrible killings resulted from violence in Chicago and New York. Watching the parents of these murdered children is heartbreaking. But it seems no one cares — not the BLM organization, not the media, which for the most part ignored the killings, and not the scores of marchers and demonstrators who took to the streets to protest the George Floyd killing. Aren't the lives of these children as important as Floyd's?
Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley
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