During his Independence Day address at the White House Saturday, US President Donald Trump launched yet another scathing attack against anti-racism protestors across the country and pledged to overthrow the “radical left”. “Our country is in great shape,” Trump told an audience of soldiers and front-line workers gathered at the White House for its 4th of July ‘Salute to America’ event.
Despite warnings from public health authorities urging Americans to avoid large gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds thronged Washington DC’s National Mall, near the White House, to witness a military flyover and massive fireworks displays at the event.
The 4th of July festivities kicked off at the White House with a flypast by the US Air Force, followed by a round of fireworks. While the crowds were relatively smaller when the event began early on Saturday evening, they started to steadily grow denser as the 9 PM final fireworks display inched closer, local media reported.
Meanwhile, ahead of Trump’s speech, peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrators held marches and sit-ins across Washington DC to protest against police brutality and the systemic oppression of African Americans in the United States.
Trump praises “American Heroes”, pledges to defeat the ‘radical left’
At the onset of his nearly 30-minute speech, Trump extended his gratitude to the country’s armed forces for their service to the nation. He went on to exalt the 56 signatories of the US’ Declaration of Independence — an official statement adopted on July 4, 1776, which declared freedom of the 13 American colonies from Great Britain.
“Thanks to the courage of those patriots on July 4th, 1776, the American Republic stands today as the greatest, most exceptional, and most virtuous nation in the history of the world,” Trump said.
Echoing the sentiments he expressed the previous evening in a speech he delivered at Mount Rushmore, the President referred to anti-racism protestors as an “angry mob” and criticised them for desecrating statues of confederate leaders — who he referred to in his speech as “American heroes”.
The US President alleged that the country was currently in the process of “defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.”
Trump’s comments come after the US witnessed widespread protests against racism and police brutality following the custodial killing of African American George Floyd in May. Demonstrators across the country began vandalising and taking down statues of slaveholders and known racists, which were located in public places throughout the US.
Paying tribute to “American heroes”, he said, “[they] defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles, and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the earth.”
Later in his speech, he announced that he had signed an executive honour to build ‘the national Garden of American Heroes’, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the “greatest Americans who have ever lived”.
US’ handling of Covid and Trump’s allegations against China
Pointedly referring to the disease as “the virus that came from China”, Trump blamed the Chinese for the spread of the pandemic across the world. “China’s secrecy, deceptions, and cover-up allowed it to spread all over the world, 189 countries, and China must be held fully accountable,” he said.
Despite the United States recording the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, Trump praised the country’s handling of the ongoing pandemic and claimed that it will be ready with a therapeutic and/or vaccine “long before the end of the year”.
“With respect to remedies, we are now doing unbelievably well and are in deep testing on vaccines, treatments, and therapeutics,” he said. “We are unleashing our nation’s scientific brilliance and will likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year.”
Trump claimed, without evidence, that as many as 99% of coronavirus cases in the US are “totally harmless”. He boasted that the country had tested over 40 million people, and had manufactured thousands of ventilators to support Covid patients in hospitals.
“We’ve made ventilators where there were none by the tens of thousands, to the point that we have far more than we need, and we are now distributing them to many foreign countries as a gesture of goodwill,” Trump said.
Call for a ‘United America’
Despite repeatedly criticising anti-racism protestors in the initial minutes of his address, Trump went on to call for racial unity and urged Americans to aspire for a ‘United America’.
“We will not allow anyone to divide our citizens by race or background. We will not allow them to foment hate, discord, and distrust. We will hold fast and true to the sacred loyalties that link us all as neighbours, as Americans, and as patriots,” Trump declared.
He stated that the goal is not to destroy the structure of the United States, but rather to build a future where every family is safe, every community has equal opportunity, and every citizen enjoys “great and everlasting dignity”.
Trump criticises the media
The US President’s speech also included a jibe at the media — he accused journalists of lying by falsely labelling “their opponents as racists”. He blamed the media for slandering him, the American people and “generations of heroes who gave their lives for America” when they condemn patriotic citizens.
The more you lie and demean and collude, the more credibility you lose,” Trump said. “We want to bring the country together and a free and open media will make this task a very easy one.”
“They didn’t fight for those things. They fought for the exact opposite. We will not let the legacy of these heroes be tarnished by you. The more you lie, the more you slander, the more you try to demean and divide, the more we will work hard to tell the truth, and we will win,” he added.
Meanwhile, across the United States 4th of July celebrations were called off due to the record spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running against Trump in the upcoming Presidential elections, too, urged citizens to stay at home and celebrate. “This Fourth of July, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask,” he tweeted.
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