President Donald Trump refused to say the Confederate flag is an offensive symbol during an interview on Sunday, where he touted the controversial banner as a sign of pride for the South.
The Republican president was asked by host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday if the flag, considered a symbol of slavery and oppression by most Americans, was offensive.
‘It depends on who you’re talking about, when you’re talking about,’ Trump responded.
‘When people proudly had their Confederate flags they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South. They like the South … I say it’s freedom of many things, but it’s freedom of speech,’ he added.
Trump has been an audible opponent of banning the Confederate flag, slamming it as an infringement of freedom of speech. He’s even threatened to veto a military bill if it allows for the renaming of forts christened after Confederate generals.
President Donald Trump refused to say the Confederate flag is an offensive symbol during an interview on Fox News Sunday saying ‘it represents the South’
‘You know the whole thing with cancel culture — we can’t cancel our whole history. We can’t forget that the North and the South fought,’ Trump said
A view of Confederate flag, which many Americans interpret as a sign of slavery and oppression, pictured above
Trump voiced his disapproval of cancel culture, reasoning that the Confederacy had a role in American history.
‘I’m not offended either by Black Lives Matter, that’s freedom of speech. You know the whole thing with cancel culture — we can’t cancel our whole history. We can’t forget that the North and the South fought,’ he added.
Host Wallace asked Trump about his stance against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), worth $740billion, which Trump has threatened to strike down even though it’s backed by Democrats and Republicans alike.
‘The National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA, you have threatened to veto it…because in the bill it would rename army bases named for Confederate generals. Now, this is a bill that funds military operations, it gives soldiers a pay raise, you’re going to veto that?’ Wallace asked.
‘They’ll get their pay raise. Hey look, don’t tell me this. I got soldiers the biggest pay raises in the history of our military…I’ve done more for the military than any president that’s ever had this office,’ Trump said raising his hands in protest.
Trump has threatened to veto a military bill if it allows for the renaming of forts christiened after Confederate generals. Trump said: ‘Because I think that Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, all these forts that have been named that way for a very long time. Fort Bragg is a big deal, we won two world wars…Are we going to name it after the Revered Al Sharpton?’
Fort Lee in Hopewell, Virginia which is named after controversial Confederate General Robert E. Lee pictured above
‘Because I think that Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, all these forts that have been named that way for a very long time. Fort Bragg is a big deal, we won two world wars. Go to that community where Fort Bragg is … say how do you like the idea of renaming Fort Bragg? And then what are we going to name it? Are we going to name it after the Revered Al Sharpton?’ Trump said.
‘We won two world wars, beautiful world wars that were vicious and horrible, and we won them out of all of these forts and now they want to throw all these names away. No, I’m against that,’ he added.
But not all politicians, including Republicans, back Trump’s stance.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell urged the president against striking down the bill, saying it’s a rare moment of cooperation between both sides of the political aisle.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren led an effort to add language to ‘remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honour or commemorate the Confederate States of America’ to the bill.
In the past Trump has denigrated organizations like NASCAR for banning the flag at matches, slamming it as an infringement of freedom of speech.
Last week the Pentagon announced it will ban displays of the Confederate flag on military installations. In the carefully articulated policy, it doesn’t mention the word ‘ban’ or the specific flag in a deliberate effort to avoid Trump’s fury.
The policy was signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday night and the memo lists the types of flags that may be displayed at military bases – and the Confederate flag is not among them.
‘We must always remain focused on what unifies us, our sworn oath to the Constitution and our shared duty to defend the nation,’ Esper’s memo states. ‘The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols.’
Despite the military’s stance Trump said: ‘I don’t care what the military says. I do – I’m supposed to make the decision.’
In the contentious interview with Fox News Trump disputed Wallace’s claim that the US has the seventh-highest mortality rate for coronavirus in the world.
Today the US reports over 3.7million cases of COVID-19 and over 140,000 deaths.
‘But when you talk about mortality rates, I think it’s the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world,’ he said, offering up White House statistics that differed from Wallace’s numbers cited from Johns Hopkins University.
He then brought out a chart on a piece of paper saying, ‘See, lowest mortality rate in the world.’
The chart by Johns Hopkins shows that Brazil and South Korea have lower mortality rates than the US but Trump still accused Wallace of being ‘fake news’ despite the data.
Trump insisted that he and Dr Anthony Fauci, the world’s leading expert on infectious diseases, have a ‘great relationship’ despite rumors of a rift, but claimed ‘he was wrong’ early in the pandemic by saying it would pass and that Trump’s ban on travel from China was a mistake.
‘He then admitted that I was right,’ Trump said.
Wallace said that Trump too has made mistakes in the handling of the virus, but the president doubled down that he’ll be ‘right’ in the end.
‘I guess everybody makes mistakes. I’ll be right eventually…It’s going to disappear and I’ll be right,’ he said.