Republican senators on June 23 harshly criticized groups who toppled or defaced statues of former Presidents Ulysses Grant, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.
“A crazy fringe is treating their monuments like vanity statues of tinhorn tyrants. Our Founding Fathers are being roped to the ground like they were Saddam Hussein,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor in Washington.
“There could be no clearer sign that these far-left radicals have severed any connection to the righteous cause of racial justice. They’ve literally tried to succeed where Robert E. Lee failed and bring General Grant to the ground.”
A statue of Grant was among those toppled in San Francisco late June 19.
McConnell described towering figures in American history like Grant, who forced the surrender of the Confederacy, as “imperfect heroes,” while the United States is an “imperfect union” that’s “still the great nation in world history.”
While vandals pull down statues of Grant and his peers, a statue of Vladimir Lenin, the former communist leader of the Soviet Union, remains standing, untouched, in Seattle, a city run by Democrats, the senator noted.
“Apparently people claim with a straight face that this communist statue has survived because it is located—wait for it—on private property. So the founding father of the mass-murdering Soviet Union watches over Seattle streets, but our own Founding Fathers are dragged in the dirt,” he said.
America’s past is complex, McConnell said, calling the claim that bigotry is its deepest founding principle, absurd.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), one of three black lawmakers in the Senate, said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” on June 23 that he opposes “tearing down history for the sake of anarchy.”
He described the people involved as “not a part of any protest.”
“They’re simply agitators and simply trying to find their way to create anarchy, chaos, and lawlessness,” he said.
Communities that are the most vulnerable, in a chaotic world, suffer the most, Scott said.
Efforts to remove statues started with those portraying soldiers or others who served in the Confederacy but have quickly moved on to others who had no link with the South.
Scott said America can have a debate over how to rename military bases named after Confederate officers but shouldn’t “purge all of history because it was ugly or negative.”
He suggested keeping the name of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to preserve the “reality of how vicious people could be.” The senator supports President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on people removing or defacing statues and monuments.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and Trump have differed on the renaming of the bases, with Biden supporting the efforts and Trump opposing them.
Democratic lawmakers have largely supported or led efforts to remove Confederate statues and haven’t weighed in on the removal of other statues.
Trump told a rally in Oklahoma on June 20 that Biden “remains silent in his basement in the face of this brutal assault on our nation and the values of our nation.”
“Joe Biden has surrendered to his party and to the left-wing mob,” he said.
During widespread riots in May, Biden, who hasn’t addressed the removal of statues, said in a statement that protesting police brutality “is right and necessary,” but added, “Burning down communities and needless destruction is not.”
“Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not,” Biden said.