Tuesday morning saw President Trump condemn those who tried and failed to tear down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson and threaten legal action against those who would engage in similar acts of vandalism. For CNN's John Harwood on CNN Newsroom, these rather simple words weren't an obvious condemnation of vandalism. They were evidence that Trump was stoking a culture war and purposefully dividing the country for his own benefit.
According to Harwood, "he also talked about leaning into the culture war that he sees as his political comfort zone after police stopped protesters in Lafayette Park outside the White House last night from ripping down a statue of Andrew Jackson."
A clip was then played of Trump calling out the rabble-rousers. "We are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators and call them whatever you want. Some people don't like that language, but that's what they are. They are bad people. They don't love our country."
Trump was clearly talking about the crowds of people who think there is nothing wrong with simply showing up to a park and tearing down a statue. Maybe Harwood should imagine them spray-painting his residence.
However, Harwood was unable to call a vandal a vandal and instead chose to interpret Trump's remarks as if he was talking about all protesters, "Vandals, hoodlums, anarchists, bad people who don't love our country. That's how he's lumping the protests across the country against police abuses, and it's consistent with the president's pattern of dividing Americans for his political benefit."
Who's the one trying to lump in the "mostly peaceful" folks with the forces of chaos? And aren't the statue-pullers "dividing Americans"??
Of course, Trump is right. It's not just Andrew Jackson because when you have people tearing down statues of George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant while vandalizing monuments to Matthias Baldwin, the 54th Massachusetts, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, and so many others, then it is no longer about the Trail of Tears or Confederate traitors, it's about something else.