Senator Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) said that “we should listen to the argument for removing George Washington statues” in an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.
Statues of slave-owning historical figures such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have become the latest target of the nationwide racial reckoning sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody this summer.
When asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if she supported taking down monuments of leaders who were slave owners, as she has expressed support of changing military bases named after Confederate leaders, Duckworth instead initially took aim at President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech on Friday.
The senator, who the Washington Post reported Sunday is a serious contender in Joe Biden’s search for a running mate in the 2020 presidential election, called Trump’s priorities “all wrong.”
“He should be talking about what we’re going to do to overcome this pandemic,” she said. “What are we going to do to push Russia back? Instead, he had no time for that. He spent all his time talking about dead traitors.”
After further pressing by CNN’s Bash, Duckworth said she thinks we should have a national dialogue over the historical monuments at some point and “listen to everybody.”
“I think we should listen to the argument there, but remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty,” she said.
Trump has defended such monuments, and did so again in his speech Friday, saying, “By tearing down Washington and Jefferson, these radicals would tear down the very heritage for which men gave their lives to win the Civil War, they would erase the memory that inspired those soldiers to go to their deaths,” he said.
“They would tear down the principles that propelled the abolition of slavery and ultimately around the world ending an evil institution that had plagued humanity for thousands and thousands of years.”