Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade has been blasted for appearing to equate 9/11 memorials with Confederate statues.
On the 16th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, Mr Kilmeade asked Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump’s secretary of the interior, if he’s worried that people 100 years from now are going to take down a 9/11 memorial “like they are trying remake our memorials today”.
Mr Kilmeade’s question was in response to Mr Zinke calling the Flight 93 memorial in rural Pennsylvania “magnificently done”.
The national memorial, located at the site of the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked in the attacks, is “an example of public-private partnerships, communities, and our National Parks System working together to commemorate, I would think, American heroes,” Mr Zinke said.
The question from Mr Kilmeade, a co-host of Fox & Friends, came as many cities across the South engage in heated debates over Confederate symbols. Critics of the symbols say the monuments are offensive relics of the region's racist past, while supporters assert they are part of history that should be preserved.
Violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month after white supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered to protest the planned removal of a statue of the Confederate General Robert E Lee.
Following the bloody protests, the mayor of Richmond, Virginia, said the city’s towering Confederate monuments shouldn't be taken down, but instead be supplemented with historical context about why they were built.
“Whether we like it or not, they are part of our history of this city, and removal would never wash away that stain,” Mayor Levar Stoney said in August, also calling the monuments “very offensive” to him.
Mr Trump took a slightly different stance: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” the President said in a series of tweets. “You can't change history, but you can learn from it.”
Fox's Brian Kilmeade equates confederate statues with 9/11 memorials, asks if people will try to take them down https://t.co/ugv0BnQlgV— Media Matters (@mmfa) September 11, 2017
Mr Trump had been slammed earlier for equating the removal of Mr Lee’s statue to one of George Washington, and for suggesting that taking down Confederate statues could lead to the removal of memorials to the US's founding fathers.
On Monday, in response to Mr Kilmeade asking if 9/11 memorials would come down next, Mr Zinke said: “I’m one who believes, you know, that we should learn from history. And I think our monuments are a part of our country’s history.”
“I think reflecting on our history, both good and bad, is a powerful statement and part of our DNA,” he later added. “I’m an advocate, again, of learning from our monuments, understanding the period they were made. But also we live in a great country and monuments are not Republican, Democrat, or independent. Monuments are a tribute to all of us.”