Donald Trump Demonstrates Educational Value of Statues by Misidentifying Sculpture in His Own Office
There’s basically only one argument people have in favor of leaving confederate and otherwise racist statues in place, and that’s that they’re necessary for remembering our “history.” Removing the statues, those people argue, would erase that history, as if we’d all forget the Civil War happened if we took the monuments to racism and those who fought in favor of it out of public spaces.
In reality, no one learns history from statues. Donald Trump proved this in an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade this weekend, during which he misidentified a statue in the Oval Office, one he must look at nearly every day.
“Every president chooses what to put around them,” Kilmeade said, looking at the art in the Oval Office. “You chose Lincoln as a bust and Lincoln as a picture. You chose Andrew Jackson, and is that Teddy Roosevelt?”
“Yes,” Trump said about a statue that is not of Teddy Roosevelt. The statue they were looking at was of a “Broncho Buster,” a general unnamed cowboy breaking a horse, which you can see in the background here:
The statue is one of several identical casts, one of which was gifted to Roosevelt, as the Broncho Buster was reminiscent of or possibly inspired by his “Rough Riders.” The Met’s website says the Broncho Buster was important to him as it “embodied Roosevelt’s vision of the westerner,” but it is not a depiction of Roosevelt himself.
That’s something Trump would know if statues actually taught us history, which they don’t.
Sometimes I wish we knew what happened in Germany in the 1940’s but they tore down all the statues so it is impossible.
— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) June 22, 2020
The entire purpose of the interview in which Trump misidentifies a statue in his own office was to give him a platform to talk about the importance of statues, going so far as to say that Black people need to be exposed to racist monuments in order to learn their history.
“Since you have done a lot for the African-American community,” Kilmeade says, somehow, without a hint of iron, “what is your message to them who say, ‘My ancestors were enslaved because of their—'”
Trump didn’t even let him finish his embarrassing softball question before answering, “My message is that we have a great country. We have the greatest country on Earth. We have a heritage. We have a history and we should learn from the history, and if you don’t understand your history, you will go back to it again. You will go right back to it. You have to learn. Think of it: You take away that whole era, and you’re going to go back to it sometime. People won’t know about it. They’re going to forget about it. It’s okay.
That’s what he would tell the descendants of slaves who don’t want Confederate statues in their local parks: “You have to learn”—as if the reason they want to tear the statues down is that they don’t already know what they represent. That’s the whole point.
I guarantee people are learning more about history reading about why statues are being torn down than they ever learned by looking at those statues.
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) June 25, 2020
(via Gizmodo, image: screencap)
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