Far from Washington for one evening, Donald Trump boasted on Friday of an “exceptional” America and denounced the “violent disorder” caused by anti-racist demonstrations, in the majestic setting of Mount Rushmore, without dwelling on the alarming figures of the Covid -19 in a worried country.
Very criticized for his management of the pandemic, the American president offered himself, on the eve of the national holiday of July 4, an evening of fireworks and a speech with a very harsh tone in conquered territory.
The stormy billionaire spoke under the gaze of four of his distant predecessors, cut in granite, which he praised for a long time: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Under a cloudless sky and in front of a crowd chanting “Four more years”, in which masks were rare, he posed, four months before the presidential election, in defender of the “integrity” of his country .
“We will tell the truth as it is, without apologies: the United States of America is the most just and exceptional country ever to have existed on Earth”, and “the Americans are strong and proud” , he launched.
In the midst of a debate on the symbols of the country’s history, and while statues of Confederate generals were brought down by anti-racist demonstrators, he denounced “a campaign aimed at erasing our history, defaming our heroes, suppressing our values and indoctrinate our children. “
“The violent disorder that we have seen on our streets and in our cities (…) is the result of years of extreme indoctrination and partiality in education, journalism and other cultural institutions,” he said. -he adds.
The filmed death of George Floyd, a black man asphyxiated by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, sparked a wave of protests, sometimes interspersed with violence, unheard of since the great civil rights marches of the 1960s.
The billionaire has only briefly mentioned the resurgence of cases of Covid-19 in the south and west which “puts the whole country in danger” in the words of Anthony Fauci, director of the American Institute of Infectious Diseases .
In a bad position in the polls, Donald Trump has been sticking to one message for several days: the coronavirus crisis is “managed”, the American economy is starting again “stronger and faster” than expected and the year 2021 will be “historical”.
Yet, in stark contrast to Europe, contamination records are broken daily in the United States.
Johns Hopkins University, which refers, announced that the United States had registered 57,683 new infections due to the coronavirus on Friday in 24 hours.
Donald Trump Junior’s girlfriend, the president’s eldest son, has tested positive for herself, the New York Times reported on Friday. Kimberly Guilfoyle, 51, was present at Mount Rushmore, but did not travel on the presidential plane.
Many states have had to pause the deconfinement, or even backtrack, hastily closing bars and beaches.
At the start of this long holiday weekend, former Democratic President Barack Obama called for a start. “Defeating this virus will require everyone’s mobilization. Wear a mask. Wash your hands,” he tweeted. “And listen to the experts, not those who are trying to divide us.”
“No social distancing”
The White House tenant, who was accompanied by his wife Melania Trump, knew he could count on a warm welcome in South Dakota, a sparsely populated state which he won in 2016 with more than 60% of the vote. And Republican Governor Kristi Noem had indicated in advance that she did not intend to spoil the party. “We have told those who are worried that they can stay at home,” she said.
“For those who want to join us, we will distribute free masks, if they decide to wear one. But there will be no social distancing.”
Representatives of Sioux tribes demonstrated to protest against the organization of this evening in the Black Hills mountains – where the heads were carved from 1927 to 1941 – which they consider sacred.
Donald Trump has long talked to him about his fascination with Mount Rushmore. In 2017, he even joked that his face might be added to it one day.
Beyond all political considerations, however, it is unlikely to happen. “The rock around the faces (of the presidents) does not allow additional sculpture,” said AFP Dana Soehn, spokesperson for this National Park. She also recalls that the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, wanted to represent the ideals of the first 150 years of American history – birth, growth, development, preservation – and that his work was therefore completed.