President Trump delivered one of the best speeches of his Presidency Friday evening at Mount Rushmore, and for evidence consider the echo-chamber headlines above. The chorus of independent media voices understands that Mr. Trump is trying to rally the country in defense of traditional American principles that are now under radical and unprecedented assault.
Dark? In most respects Mr. Trump’s speech was a familiar Fourth of July ode to liberty and U.S. achievement that any President might have delivered in front of an American landmark. “No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America. And no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation,” he said.
Contrary to the media reporting, the America Mr. Trump described is one of genuine racial equality and diversity. He highlighted the central ideal of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” As he rightly put it, “these immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom” that included the abolition of slavery more than a half century later.
Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. also believed this to be true, and Mr. Trump cited them both, as he did other American notables black and white, historic and more recent. There was not a hint of racial division in his words except for those who want to distort their meaning for their own political purposes. In any other time this paean to American exceptionalism would have been unexceptional.
But this year even Mr. Trump’s speech backdrop, Mount Rushmore with its four presidential faces, is politically charged. Each of those Presidents—Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt—is under assault for ancient sins against modern values, as progressives seek to expunge their statues and even their names from American life. Mr. Trump’s great offense against the culturally ascendant progressives was to defend these presidential legacies.