Trump hails ‘righteous cause of American self-government’ | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Trump hails ‘righteous cause of American self-government’

Associated Press
1476854_web1_1476854-ef0556192fee4a73b59c99d8e0f4707d
AP
President Donald Trump speaks at an event marking the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly, Tuesday, July 29, 2019, in Jamestown, Va.
1476854_web1_1476854-5cefd11c6c43452b9b1b60e6f42f398f
AP
Virginia Delegate Ibraheem S. Samirah, D-Fairfax, is escorted out of the venue after interrupting the speech of President Donald Trump during a commemorative meeting of the Virginia General Assembly at Jamestown Settlement on the 400th anniversary of the meeting of the original House of Burgess in Jamestown, Va., Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
1476854_web1_1476854-dbe8ebc941b74a85b47c1c56fbcfde8e
AP
President Donald Trump, front, shakes the hand of Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax as prepares to address a commemorative meeting of the Virginia General Assembly at Jamestown Settlement on the 400th anniversary of the meeting of the original House of Burgess in Jamestown, Va., Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
1476854_web1_1476854-2148d0b0eab341a28cce41939be7e911
AP
President Donald Trump tours the old Jamestown Settlement with Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation executive director Philip Emerson, Tuesday, July 29, 2019, in Jamestown, Va.
1476854_web1_1476854-f8b1d40ec77c464686374d62979f73c1
AP
President Donald Trump tours the old Jamestown Settlement accompanied by Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation executive director Philip Emerson, right, Tuesday, July 29, 2019, in Jamestown, Va.

JAMESTOWN, Va. — President Donald Trump marked the 400th anniversary of the rise of American democracy on Tuesday by celebrating “four incredible centuries of history, heritage and commitment to the righteous cause of American self-government.” His speech in historic Jamestown played out against a backdrop of tension over his recent disparaging remarks about minority members of Congress and was boycotted by black Virginia state legislators.

In his remarks, Trump noted that 1619 also was the year the first enslaved Africans arrived in the colonies, saying, “We remember every sacred soul who suffered the horrors of slavery and the anguish of bondage.”

Trump said that the United States has had many achievements in its history, but “none exceeds the triumph that we are here to celebrate today.”

“Self-government in Virginia did not just give us a state we love — in a very true sense it gave us the country we love, the United States of America,” he said.

His speech was interrupted by a protester who stood up and held signs that read “deport hate” and “reunite my family.” A third message said “go back to your corrupted home.” The protester, Ibraheem Samirah, a Democratic member of the Virginia House, was led out of the speech site as some members of the crowd chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump.”

Samirah said in a statement that he was confident his constituents would rather him protest than “passively accept” Trump’s presence. Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox called the protest “inconsistent with common decency and a violation of the rules of the House.”

Ahead of his speech, Trump said the black legislators who announced a boycott of the event were going “against their own people.”

Trump claimed African Americans “love the job” he’s doing and are “happy as hell” with his recent comments criticizing a majority black district in the Baltimore area and its congressman.

In fact, African Americans continue to be overwhelmingly negative in their assessments of the president’s performance. According to Gallup polling, approval among black Americans has hovered around 1 in 10 over the course of Trump’s presidency, with 8% approving in June.

A last-minute announcement that the president would participate in the Jamestown commemoration of the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere injected tension into an event years in the making. Demonstrators gathered Tuesday morning near the site where Trump was to speak.

“The commemoration of the birth of this nation and its democracy will be tarnished unduly with the participation of the President, who continues to make degrading comments toward minority leaders, promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities, and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric,” the black caucus said in a statement Monday.

The boycott follows Trump’s weekend comments referring to U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ majority black Baltimore-area district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” A caucus statement didn’t specifically mention Cummings but said Trump’s “repeated attacks on Black legislators and comments about Black communities makes him ill-suited to honor and commemorate such a monumental period in history.”

Black Caucus chairman Del. Lamont Bagby told The Associated Press that the group reached a unanimous decision to boycott the event more than a week ago but that the president has “continued his attacks” since then, including with his remarks about Cummings’ district.

On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted: “Heading to Jamestown, Virginia. Word is the Democrats will make it as uncomfortable as possible, but that’s ok because today is not about them!”

Trump used the speech to make an optimistic case for America’s future, saying “America always gets the job done.”

“That is why after 400 years of glorious American democracy, we have returned here to this place to declare to all the world that the United States of America and the great Commonwealth of Virginia are just getting started,” he said.

Caucus members also pledged to boycott the rest of a weeklong series of anniversary events and have instead planned alternative commemorations Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia’s capital.

At an early-morning ceremony, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also used the event to reach out to African Americans. He noted that while the ideals of freedom and representative government flourished in Jamestown four centuries ago, a ship carrying African people who would be sold into slavery arrived in Virginia just weeks after that first assembly.

“So today, as we hold these commemorations of the first representative assembly in the free world, we have to remember who it included, and who it did not,” Northam said. “That’s the paradox of Virginia, of America, and of our representative democracy.”

Today’s Virginia General Assembly, considered the oldest continuously operating legislative body in North America, grew out of the assembly that first gathered in 1619.

The anniversary comes at a time of heightened election-year partisanship in Virginia in the aftermath of political scandals that engulfed the state’s top three elected officials, all Democrats.

A blackface photo scandal nearly destroyed Northam’s career. Then, as it looked like Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax might ascend to the governorship, two women accused him of sexual assault. Fairfax, who attended Tuesday’s event where Trump spoke, has vehemently denied those allegations. Attorney General Mark Herring has separately faced calls to resign after acknowledging he dressed in blackface decades ago. All three men remain in office.

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.