During an interview with Fox News that was aired on Sunday, Donald Trump told members of the African-American community to learn US history in opposition to statues of problematic figures being removed.
Speaking to Fox and Friends anchor Brian Kilmeade, Trump was asked for his thoughts on the anti-racism protesters that have been attempting to remove statues around the United States of Confederate generals and other individuals such as Christopher Colombus and Theodore Roosevelt, which promote a history of slavery or white people being perceived as the superior race.
On the subject, Trump claimed that the people tearing down the statues, which he referred to as 'beautiful pieces of art' didn't know why they were attempting to remove the monuments adding that he was aware of groups who wanted to remove statues of former president's such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, despite all owning slaves. He also said that people were trying to remove monuments honouring Abraham Lincoln who is the president who abolished slavery.
Kilmeade then asked Trump:
Since you have done a lot for the African-American community, what is your message to them when their ancestors were enslaved because of [these leaders who are commemorated on these monuments]?
What should have been a relatively easy answer and an apology from Trump for the history of injustice and inequality forced upon Black Americans, turned into a complete mess of an answer, turned into Trump telling Black people to learn US history or risk "going back to it again."
My message is that we have a great country, we have the greatest country on Earth. We have a heritage, we have a history and we should learn from the history, and if you don’t understand your history, you will go back to it again. You will go right back to it. You have to learn. Think of it, you take away that whole era and you’re going to go back to it sometime. People won’t know about it. They’re going to forget about it. It’s okay.
Now what I do like, I like the idea of building new statues to people, to great people. People that have done something. And I think that’s okay.
But you don’t want to take away our heritage and history and the beauty, in many cases, the beauty, the artistic beauty. Some of the sculptures and some of this work is some of the great — you can go to France, you can go anywhere in the world and you will never see more magnificent work. And that’s a factor. It’s not the biggest factor but it’s a factor.
As with most things that Trump says it's not entirely obvious what he means but he does seem to be encouraging Black people to learn US history and heritage, but we can't be sure what he means when he says "you will go back to it again'", which seems very suspect indeed.
Kilmeade wisely changed the subject after hearing this answer, which was probably for the best...