President Trump warned in 2017 that statues of U.S. Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson might someday be removed — three years ahead of attacks on such statues this month.
Back then, “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver mocked the president for his grim prediction.
“So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down,” Trump said at an August 2017 news conference on the protests that year in Charlottsville, Va., that sparked from the plans to remove some Confederate statues.
“I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump said.
“I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
— President Trump, in 2017
“I’ll tell you where it stops,” Oliver replied during an episode of his weekly show. “Somewhere! Any time someone asks, where does it stop, the answer’s always … somewhere. You might let your kid have Twizzlers, but not inject black tar heroin. You don’t just go, ‘Well, after the Twizzlers, where does it stop?'”
John Oliver, left, saw comedy in a grim Trump prediction in 2017.
Black Lives Matter protesters earlier this month started pulling down Confederate statues. The trend soon led to attacks against statues of other historical figures, such as Christopher Columbus and former President Ulysses S. Grant.
Protesters have pointed to the fact that both former presidents were slave owners.
However, both Oliver and Trump were referring to statues being officially removed rather than vandalized by protesters.
But now, some officials across the country are considering or already planning to remove monuments to the nation’s first and third presidents.
A statue of George Washington, that was erected in the 1920s, is shown on the ground after it was taken down by protesters in Portland, Ore., June 18, 2020. (Associated Press)
In New York City, the new “Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation” will examine statues of historical figures in the city — including Washington and Jefferson — and consider removing them, The New York Post reported.
In a park in dowtown Decatur, Ga., a Jefferson statue that is privately owned will be officially removed, according to a protest organizer, Decaturish reported.
Dr. Douglas Bradburn, president and CEO of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the president’s historic home in Northern Virginia, said in a statement last week, “Without George Washington, there would be no United States of America; there would be no Constitution, which allows the freedom of speech, assembly, and protest, as well as the separation of church from state — and without Washington we would not have civilian-led military.”
He added, “If we fail to honor George Washington, because we understand him only as a slave owner, we will lose the story of the United States, for it will have no beginning and very little direction,” according to Just the News.