Historians dismiss Trump's 'heroes' park picks: 'They threw a bunch of stuff on the wall and went with whatever stuck'
President Donald Trump listens during a phone conversation with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto on trade in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on August 27, 2018. (AFP / Mandel Ngan)

Queried by the Washington Post over the some of the historical figures Donald Trump's White House suggested for a proposed "National Garden of American Heroes," several historians scratched their heads at a few of the names with one admitting, "The choices vary from odd to probably inappropriate to provocative."


Likely resulting from the Trump's recent obsession with protesters pulling down statues -- mainly of Confederate soldiers -- the president pitched the idea of a park with a collection of statues and then offered up a list that had more than a few surprising choices.

Tops among the more controversial choices was the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as the only former justice to be honored.

As for the rest of the list, depending upon the historian, it looks like a mixed bag.

According to Karen Cox, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, "It’s just so random. It’s like they threw a bunch of stuff on the wall and just went with whatever stuck. Nothing about this suggests it’s thoughtful.”

Adam Domby, a historian at the College of Charleston, suggested, "This list they put together, it raises so many odd historical questions. Why did they choose Gen. [George S.] Patton but not [Dwight D.] Eisenhower — because of the movie ‘Patton’? They include some African Americans, but only ones that might be considered ‘safe’ or ‘comfortable’ like Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr. Where’s W.E.B. Dubois? Where’s Malcolm X?”

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Douglas Blackmon added, "There are no Asian American heroes. Like Sadao Munemori who attacked two machine gun emplacements in Italy, then gave his life diving on a grenade to save his unit. He’s not a hero? Wrong color?”

According to Sean Wilentz, of Princeton, the overall idea is good but it needs a lot of work.

“The tragedy is an undertaking like this could actually be a good idea if serious,” Wilentz explained. “You could engage artists who are hurting for work right now. You could be innovative and really rethink the idea of what it means to memorialize things and how we do that. You could even break out of the whole classical/neoclassical forms we’ve been stuck in when it come statues. But I don’t think that’s what Trump has in mind.”

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