July 4 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump condemned the toppling of Confederate statues and announced an executive order to establish a statuary garden during his appearance at Mount Rushmore on the eve of the Fourth of July.
The rally and fireworks event held at Mount Rushmore on Friday drew several thousand people in South Dakota who were not required to social distance or wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump used the occasion to call for establishment of a statuary garden to honor American heroes and decry the toppling of Confederate statues and others deemed racist amid Black Lives Matter protests after the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
"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 said. "They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive, but no, the American people are strong and proud and they will not allow our country and all its values, history and culture to be taken from them.
"To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol and memory of our national heritage," he continued. "That's why I'm deploying federal law enforcement to protect our monuments, arrest the rioters and prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law."
Trump praised George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, whose likenesses were carved in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial behind him and denounced not just the rioters, but the "cancel culture," which has led to intolerance for racism, as "totalitarian."
"One of their political weapons is cancel culture, driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees," Trump said. "This is the very definition of totalitarianism. And it is completely alien to our culture and to our values and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America. 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."
Trump also railed against what he described as "far-left fascism."
"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, persecuted and punished," Trump said.
"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."
The first fireworks display in more than a decade capped off the event despite wildfire fears.