Trump’s July 4 Speech Was Not ‘Dark’ Or ‘Divisive,’ It Was American
Donald Trump did not launch the latest culture war: The left-leaning press, political foes, Marxist-believing activists, and corporate and educational institutions did. When President Trump stood before a patriotic crowd on Friday night, under the watchful eyes of our country’s greatest presidents, his pronouncement that the silent majority will not retreat or surrender our founding principles was not divisive. It was American.
On the eve of Independence Day, our 45th president proclaimed the truths on which our country was founded. He reminded listeners that “our Founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity” by enshrining the “divine truth that changed the world forever when they said: ‘…all men are created equal.’”
Then, to the horror of the leftists who seek to destroy this country, Trump continued: “Our founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights — given [to] us by our Creator in Heaven. And that which God has given us, we will allow no one, ever, to take away – ever.”
His 40-minute speech replayed this pivot many times. First came a celebratory truism overwhelmingly applauded by Americans. Then came Trump’s juxtaposition of those values with the extremist left’s latest beliefs and actions, which the president coupled with a resolute vow to defeat.
“Today, we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt,” Trump began. The cheers followed. In another year and under another president, the entire nation would have rallied along.
But 2020 has seen cancel culture converted into a cancel the country movement. Some have declared founders Washington and Jefferson outcasts because they were slaveholders. Next, Roosevelt became a target for supposedly “symboliz[ing] a legacy of colonial expansion and racial discrimination.”
Even Abraham Lincoln has not survived the onslaught, with students at the University of Wisconsin seeking to remove the commander-in-chief of the Union army for signing laws that “displaced a lot of Native Americans” and that gave freed slaves “no reparations.” Calls for the removal of Mount Rushmore followed.
This cacophony comes from a sliver of society, with their voices amplified by a media selling an election year controversy to cripple Trump. Yet the press possesses the power to turn a narrative into a reality by creating a momentum that turns the trashing of monuments into a destruction of the foundations of our country.
Trump knows all of this, and that for nation to survive, the anti-American rhetoric must be defeated. So, at Friday’s South Dakota gathering, Trump proclaimed that “as your president,” I pledge “this monument will never be desecrated — (applause) — 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.”
Beyond the monument and the statues, much more is at stake, and Trump seems to sense that more than most Americans do.
“Make no mistake: this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” Trump explained. He put to words the reality Americans are watching with a surreal feeling of helplessness, acknowledging that “our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”
Trump then exposed the totalitarianism of “cancel culture,” which “drive[s] people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees.” “In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance,” the president continued. “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.”
But Americans are not “weak and soft and submissive,” Trump countered. “No, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them.” “This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty, must be stopped, and it will be stopped very quickly. We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children, end this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life. It’s not going to happen to us.”
The president then recounted the real history of our nation’s forefathers, and not the “radical view of American history,” in which “every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted, and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged and the record is disfigured beyond all recognition.” He told America that it is good, just, and right to “state truth in full, without apology: We declare that the United States of America is the most just and exceptional nation ever to exist on Earth.”
He spoke of our country as one where “the American family is the bedrock of American life,” where “governments exist to protect the safety and happiness of their own people,” and yes, that means securing its borders. He spoke of our belief in “equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion, and creed. Every child, of every color — born and unborn — is made in the holy image of God.”
Trump spoke of a country dedicated to “free and open debate,” and “not speech codes and cancel culture.” Where we “embrace tolerance, not prejudice,” and where “we support the courageous men and women of law enforcement.” And where our Constitution guarantees us “the right to keep and bear arms.”
Our president also spoke of a country that “believe[s] that our children should be taught to love their country, honor our history, and respect our great American flag,” where “we stand tall, we stand proud, and we only kneel to Almighty God.”
Trump’s speech was not divisive, it was defensive. Atop the bully pulpit, the commander-in-chief defended our country and our values; our history and our heroes; our families and our rights. His speech did not seek to further fracture our nation, but to cement our republic to the solid foundation poured forth with blood nearly 250 years ago.
His speech was a tribute to America and to all Americans who love this great country.
Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame.
The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.