Conservatives Ben Shapiro and Meghan McCain have tweeted about the presidential monument, which memorializes known enslavers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson

By Claudia Harmata
June 24, 2020 01:30 PM
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Scott Olson/Getty; Inset: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Amid protests over racial injustice and police brutality around the nation, statues that celebrate America's historical figures associated with slavery have come under fire and are being torn down.

Even though there is not yet a large demand for Mount Rushmore to be changed, the national memorial has become a subject of discussion on Twitter.

Mount Rushmore depicts U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in huge granite in South Dakota's Black Hills. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known enslavers.

On Tuesday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted her support for the monument, saying that it wouldn't be taken down "on my watch."

The Republican's tweet was prompted by one from conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, who had sarcastically written on Twitter, "So, when is our woke historical revisionist priesthood going to insist on blowing up Mount Rushmore?"

A spokesman for the governor's office — which did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment — told Newsweek that Noem's firm stance comes after "widespread chatter on social media about defacing or destroying Mount Rushmore."

Conservative View cohost Meghan McCain also tweeted about Mount Rushmore, writing on Monday, "We're like one week removed from entire cable news panels debating whether or not we should blow up Mount Rushmore."

"You mean the Mount Rushmore that’s on unceded Lakota territory that still belongs to them by US Treaty as held up by Supreme Court ruling in 1980?" replied Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt writer Azie Mira Dungey.

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The move to remove these types of monuments comes amid the growing fight against systemic racism in response to the death of 46-year-old George Floyd.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the removal of the statues and monuments, and after protesters attempted to remove one of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House, he urged the arrest of "arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison," citing a 2003 law.

Aside from celebrating two known enslavers, Mount Rushmore also has a controversial history in relation to Native American tribes in the U.S. who were given complete ownership of the Black Hills in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, USA Today reported.

However, miners seeking gold came to the area led by Gen. George Custer in 1874 and incited the Great Sioux War of 1876 between the tribes and the U.S.

The Indian Appropriations Act of 1876 cut off all rations and resources to the Native Americas until they felt no other option but to surrender, and ceded the Black Hills to the federal government. The Agreement of 1877 officially annexed Sioux land and permanently established Indian reservations.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 ruled 8-1 that the federal government violated the Fifth Amendment by seizing the Black Hills, the tribes declined compensation in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, in hopes of the land someday being returned, according to USA Today. Efforts to achieve that have failed in recent decades.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.