A park populated by statues of the “hero american”. The idea, launched by Donald Trump on the occasion of the celebrations for the “4th of July” in an America deeply divided, does not seem intended to placate the passions.
On the bottom as on the form, the announcement of this initiative on funding and the future uncertain (the objective displayed is the opening to the public in 2026) surprised.
To four months of the presidential election, it reinforces a little more the image of a president who has renounced to assume the clothes of people together, who play block against block.
Announced without consultation, the move comes at a time when, across the country, protesters have been demanding the déboulonnage of some of the statues, in particular those of the general southerners, seeing the celebration of a past racist.
Dodging the debate, reducing the protest to violent acts, the billionaire republican arises for several weeks as the defender of “the integrity” of the country in the face of the “marxists, anarchists, agitators and looters”.
Julian Zelizer, professor of history at Princeton university, the announcement of this project is first and foremost a political approach to Donald Trump.
“It tries to use a certain version of american history to stage its attacks on the” radical left+ and to reassure conservatives who may be frustrated by the failure of his policy on the pandemic (the COVID-19)”, he explains to AFP.
The idea of this “Garden of national hero to americans”, where are collected the statues of “realistic” and not “abstract”, was launched on Friday evening during his speech before the Mont Ruhsmore which celebrates four of its distant predecessors.
This “broad park” would house the statues of the “greatest Americans who ever lived”.
But how to draw up the list of these “giants of the past”, in the words of Donald Trump? Who should participate in its development?
In a first list, referred to in the presidential decree, we find pell-mell, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Davy Crockett, adventurer, became the hero of Disney, the evangelical preacher Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, or even Antonin Scalia, a judge of the judge of supreme Court, and pillar of the conservative right.
“Some of his choice on the people to be honoured are a signal sent to the right, like justice Scalia, for example. Some absences, such as that of Franklin Roosevelt, are part of the same logic,” highlights Julian Zelizer.
James Grossman, director of the American Historical Association, as quoted by the “Washington Post”, sees in him a mixture of choices “odd, displaced, even provocative”.
The decree also provides for the possibility of granting a place to the individuals who were not Americans but have significantly contributed to “the discovery, development or independence” of what would become the United States.
Explorer genoese Christopher Columbus, the Spanish missionary Junipero Serra, or even The Marquis de la Fayette, hero of the american War of Independence, are cited.
Several statues of Christopher Columbus have been déboulonnées or vandalized in recent weeks across the United States. The municipality of San Francisco has removed a statue of the browser of its local parliament.
In his speech of 4 July, in the gardens of the White House, Donald Trump has taken care to mention it explicitly.
“We will fight together for the american dream, and we will defend, will protect, and preserve the american way of life that began in 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered America”, he started, before defending once again his idea of a “park of heroes”.
The us political class has remained as a whole is silent in the face of this proposal.
Notable Exception: Eugene Scalia, minister of Labour in the government Trump. Saying that it was very touched at the idea that a statue of her father figure in this park, he rented the presidential initiative.
“We need heroes”, he explained on Fox News. “We need to admire our ancestors, and to recognize what is great and good in our past. And it is this that makes the president”.