themarked Independence Day overnight with a speech as grim and divisive as any he has given since taking office.
He was visiting the historic monument at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, where the profiles of four American presidents are carved into the rock wall.
It was Donald Trump who fueled the tension, hoping to rally his main supporters and seeking to provoke his adversaries.
To do this, on the eve of the most unifying day on the American calendar – well, this is a step calculated by a leader who faces a political defeat in November.
Trump therefore returned to his traditional incendiary game book – and this time adding a little extra venom to the cultural war, using the label of “fascism” to attack his enemies.
It reminded me of his inaugural speech when he warned of the American carnage.This time he said that America “was witnessing a merciless campaign to erase our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children”.
He launched a furious attack on themovement that seeks racial justice and wants a judgment on slavery and systemic discrimination.“Angry crowds are trying to demolish the statues of our founders,” warned Trump, “disfiguring our most sacred monuments and unleashing a wave of violent crime in our cities.”
He accused Democrats of embracing “far-left fascism” in education, journalism and culture.
There was almost no mention of the increase in ongoing virus cases in many American states. There are currently 50,000 new cases a day – an alarming deterioration of the situation.
July 4 is normally a day for Americans to celebrate this country, its unity, its freedoms and its prosperity.
This year is different. Americans fear that the pandemic will now take hold across the country.
And there is an expanded political schism by the president himself.
No wonder Independence Day witnessed a strange mix of traditional celebrations, major protests – and widespread anxiety.