The chief ranger at Mount Rushmore said Tuesday that the attacks on monuments across the country and the threats to Mount Rushmore itself have caught his attention, and the attention of all those with the National Park Service.
“It’s causing concern, let’s put in that way,” Chief Ranger Don Hart told LifeZette. “We don’t shrug off any threats.”
Last week, a senior editor for the online publication Vice, which is jointly owned by 21st Century Fox and by A&E, ran an article entitled “Let’s Blow up Mount Rushmore,” saying that the only way to help America fulfill her promise would probably involve “taking those men we’ve placed so high and bringing them back down to Earth where we can judge them for who they really were.”
The headline was later changed to "Let's Get Rid of Mount Rushmore" — but the proposal for violence had already been floated.
Hart said security concerns have definitely been in the forefront in recent days.
Asked whether the National Park Service has taken specific action to protect the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, he said, "I would just respond 'yes' to that."
Mount Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, depicts four U.S. presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson,Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln — carved in granite in the side of the mountain. It is thought to be the largest sculpture in the world.
About 70 people are employed at Mount Rushmore in the summers. All are employees of the National Park Service.
Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service officer and congressional candidate, referred to the writer of the Vice piece and others like it as "a**h**es" on the Left."
"These are bad people who absolutely hate this country," he told LifeZette.
Bongino says that in assessing the threat to Mount Rushmore or any other site, the important thing is to look at whether a person or a group actually has a history of following through with action.
"I'm telling you, given their history, they're probably not kidding," he said of the Mount Rushmore threat.
On Aug. 14, members of communist and socialist parties, along with people calling themselves "anti-fascists," toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier that had stood in front of the courthouse in Durham, North Carolina, for almost 100 years.
Hart says this isn't the first time Mount Rushmore has been threatened, alluding to threats to the monument in the 1960s and '70s, and some others over the years.
In the 1970s, Native American activists held an "anti-Birthday Party" atop Mount Rushmore, and in the years after 9/11, a House Committee on Government Reform report called security at Mount Rushmore "a major Park Service concern," despite the addition of security cameras, fences and lights.
"You know, sadly, if you're looking to protect it … if it was my personal property — Mount Rushmore — I would have security, you're darn right," says Bongino.
As shocking as the Vice headline was, some groundwork had helpfully been laid earlier in the year, by a piece published in The New York Times Magazine in March, entitled,"Why Does Mount Rushmore Exist?"
The Seinfeld-esque piece tells the story of a family's journey to the Black Hills of South Dakota in winter to see Mount Rushmore.
The kids are unimpressed, as are the parents — except by the scale of it.
"I felt a rush of emotion that was not patriotism but awe: awe at human weirdness, at our capacity to create, in the actual world, such an improbable and unnecessary artifact as this. Why had humans done this? Why did Mount Rushmore exist?" the writer, Sam Anderson, wrote.
The answer, of course, can be found in the history books.