President Donald Trump said Monday that the nation must restore “patriotic education” in schools as a way to calm unrest in cities and counter “lies” about racism in the United States.
Trump blamed violent protests in Portland, Ore., and other cities in recent months on “left-wing indoctrination” in schools and universities, while accusing his Democratic presidential challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, of giving “moral aid and comfort” to vandals.
“Many young Americans have been fed lies about America being a wicked nation plagued by racism,” Trump said during a news conference. “Indeed, Joe Biden and his party spent their entire convention spreading this hateful and destructive message while refusing to say one word about the violence.”
Trump’s solution: Children must be taught that America is “an exceptional, free and just nation, worth defending, preserving and protecting,” he said.
Democrats are unable, he said, to control a “radical left, crazy movement.”
“The only path to unity is to rebuild a shared national identity focused on common American values and virtues of which we have plenty,” he said. “This includes restoring patriotic education in our nation’s schools, where they are trying to change everything that we have learned.”
Key context: “Teach American Exceptionalism” is one of two education goals listed on Trump’s second-term “Fighting for You!” agenda released ahead of the president’s acceptance of his party’s nomination during the Republican National Convention last week.
Decisions about curriculum are made at the state and local level, and Trump’s second-term agenda does not detail his path for achieving that education focus.
Shortly before becoming a candidate in 2015, Trump decried the idea of American exceptionalism. But the GOP 2016 platform, which will remain in place for 2020, describes the concept as “the notion that our ideas and principles as a nation give us a unique place of moral leadership in the world.”
Biden’s response: “I urge the President to join me in saying that while peaceful protest is a right — a necessity — violence is wrong, period,” Biden said in a statement responding to Trump’s remarks. “No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period. If Donald Trump can’t say that, then he is unfit to be President, and his preference for more violence — not less — is clear.”