Mount Rushmore: A Tribute to Slave Owners?

Mount Rushmore was carved into the mountains of South Dakota in 1927. It depicts the faces of four US presidents who helped to form the country and make it what it is today – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

For decades, the tribute has been visited by millions of people. A museum and interactive exhibits help to teach some of US history and explain the reason for these four presidents to be memorialized.

But wait, history isn’t allowed anymore. We’re not allowed to pay tribute to people who helped to shape our country, especially if they owned slaves.

In the 1700s and 1800s, slavery wasn’t illegal. For many, it was simply a way of life. Of course, we know that it’s wrong now. But, how is it that we can condemn people who are no longer around to defend their decisions or apologize for their choices?

The sculpture has been criticized for years by Native Americans because it was built on what used to be Indigenous Land.

Now, with the Black Lives Matter movement and statues of Confederate generals being toppled, there’s more call than ever for Mount Rushmore to close.

Getting rid of such a sculpture isn’t that easy. The face of each president stands 60 feet high. Sure, we can close down the museum and prevent people from visiting, but the faces will still be carved into the stone. To get rid of them would involve blowing up a mountain – and that’s unlikely to happen because of the catastrophic effects it would have to anything nearby.

Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, called the monument a “brand on our flesh” that needed to be removed.

The Native Americans have spoken.

Now, what about BLM protesters? Well, there’s a book that identifies Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and even Lincoln were racist. It’s hard to say such a thing.

While Jefferson was a well-known slave owner and there’s an autobiography of his to clarify that he was probably racist, it is hard to point the finger at the others.

It’s as if protesters simply want to rewrite history to suit their needs. If they say Lincoln is a racist, well, he must be. And those who disagree must be racist.

It seems as if the easiest thing to do is point to someone and call them a racist in order to end the conversation.

Kristi Noem, the Governor of South Dakota, has identified that there have been many threats against the monument. She made a statement titled, “Not on My Watch” to identify how she is ready to defend the monument.

She has a message for everyone to hear loud and clear: “In recent days, we have seen threats to memorials that honor some of America’s greatest leaders. Some vandals have gone so far as to attack statues of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, the very leaders who brought the Union through the Civil War and ushered in the end of slavery in our country. These are the same men who turned Jefferson’s ideal into reality. Now we’re seeing threats to Mount Rushmore. To those who would threaten America’s Shrine of Democracy, I have one simple message for you: Not on my watch.”

South Dakota has partnered with the federal government to protect the national monument. They will be increasing security measures to ensure that it remains.

As the South Dakota governor reminds, “the men honored on Mount Rushmore weren’t perfect; nobody is. They all had flaws. But they all had tremendous virtues as well, and they did incredible things for our country.”

This is perhaps what we need to remember about not only the men identified in Mouth Rushmore but in every other statue that has been destroyed. No one is perfect but they have contributed positively to help the country get to where it is today.

We cannot destroy history because we don’t like it – and Mount Rushmore needs to stand for many decades to come.