President Donald Trump announced his unequivocal support for preserving statues of Confederate generals and leaders, moving a step past his previous statements that the fate of the statues should be left to cities and states.
In full, his tweets read: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson—who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns, and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”
The national monuments of Trump’s April executive order, meanwhile, are areas of federally owned land set aside for their natural beauty or cultural significance. They are somewhat akin to national parks, except that a president can unilaterally designate a national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906. A national park can only be created by an act of Congress.
Since the late 1990s, some Republicans, especially in the West, have argued that national monuments created by the Clinton and Obama administrations were too large and exceeded the Antiquities Act’s authority. Bears Ears came under particular attack.