Trump wants to protect monuments — but not if they’re natural

Robinson Meyer writes: On Thursday morning, President Donald Trump announced his unequivocal support for preserving statues of Confederate generals and leaders, moving a step past his previous statements that the fate of the statues should be left to cities and states.

In full, his tweets read: “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!”

It was not the first time he had spoken about monuments—national or otherwise. In April, Trump ordered the Department of the Interior to review whether every national monument created since 1996 should be eliminated or shrunk from its current size. His order put protections for tens of millions of acres of public land in doubt.

These are not the same type of monuments, of course. The Confederate monuments that Trump describes are stone or bronze depictions of leaders who took up arms against the United States. They are scattered across the entire country but concentrated in the Southeast. (There are also assorted plaques.)

The national monuments of Trump’s April executive order, meanwhile, are areas of federally owned land set aside for their natural beauty or cultural significance. [Continue reading…]

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