Washington, July 5 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has used his Independence Day speech to tout the country’s “progress” against the COVID-19 pandemic, despite a nationwide spike in cases and vowed to defeat the “radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters”.
“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying during his speech at the South Lawn on Saturday.
“We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms,” he said, referring to the removal of controversial monuments following the killing of black man George Floyd by police — an incident that has invoked a national outcry against racial injustice and police brutality in the country.
Trump also lambasted US media outlets, saying that they “falsely and consistently label their opponents as racists”.
“You not only slander me, you not only slander American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America.”
The president kicked off the holiday weekend by visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota state on Friday with the same focus — accusing “angry mobs” of waging “a merciless campaign” to wipe out US history while pledging to establish a “National Garden of American Heroes” that will feature statues of “the greatest Americans to ever live”.
As Trump centred himself on railing at “radical left” and the US media in his Fourth of July message, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden put his focus on calling for racial justice.
“There has always been a push and a pull between our founding ideals and the forces of inequality,” said Biden in an online video, adding that “we have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.”
A series of polls show Trump was slipping farther behind his Democratic challenger currently as the president has been under pressure to “reset” his re-election campaign.
The US marked its 244th Independence against the backdrop of a hike of pandemic, a downturn of economy and a nationwide outcry for racial justice.
Trump’s speech was part of the 2020 “Salute to America” event, which also included multiple flyovers by military aircraft and a 35-minute fireworks display over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night.
However, much of the country cancelled or scaled back traditional celebrations and events for the weekend as health experts warned Americans to avoid large crowds at a time when the country is already experiencing significant surges of infections.
Under attacksfor a shaky response to the pandemic, Trump insisted that the spike in cases is a result of expanded testing, a claim rejected by the White House’s own public health experts.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, our strategy is moving along well,” Trump said of the pandemic in his speech on Saturday.
On Saturday, nearly 45,000 new daily cases were reported in the country, according to a New York Times database, with at least three states setting daily records.
The US currently accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities with 2,838,678 and 129,672, respectively.
The traditional Fourth of July parade in Washington, D.C., as well as firework shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and some other cities, were cancelled due to the pandemic.
But protests against racial injustice were continuing across the country.
Protesters held rallies, marches and sit-ins on Saturday in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and more than a dozen other cities and towns, according to a USA Today report.
After Trump’s July Fourth address, some protesters burned an American flag outside the Lafayette Square near the White House in protest against racial injustice in the country, local media reported.
As the flag burned, protesters chanted “slavery, genocide and war” and “America was never great”.
In Baltimore, Maryland state, a group of protesters tore down a statue of the Italian-born explorer Christopher Columbus and threw it into the water on Saturday night.