“Many young Americans have been fed lies about America being a wicked nation plagued by racism,” he said. “Indeed, Joe Biden and his party spent their entire convention spreading this hateful and destructive message while refusing to say one word about the violence.”
The president said violent protests in Portland, Ore., and other cities have largely been due to "left-wing indoctrination" in schools and universities -- a "crazy movement" he alleged Democrats have been unable to control.
“The only path to unity is to rebuild a shared national identity focused on common American values and virtues of which we have plenty,” Trump said. “This includes restoring patriotic education in our nation's schools, where they are trying to change everything that we have learned.”
The president said the solution is to teach children that America is an "exceptional, free and just nation, worth defending, preserving and protecting."
The president's comments are in line with his second-term "Fighting for You!" reelection agenda, which was released prior to the Republican National Convention (RNC) last week.
"Teach American Exceptionalism” is one of the two education tenets listed on the plan. The second is to "Provide School Choice to Every Child in America."
The president had decried the idea of American exceptionalism shortly before becoming a presidential candidate in 2015.
“I don’t like the term,” he said in an April 2015 video posted a year later by Mother Jones. ”I’ll be honest with you. People say, 'Oh he’s not patriotic.' Look, if I’m a Russian, or I’m a German, or I’m a person we do business with, why, you know, I don’t think it’s a very nice term. ‘We’re exceptional; you’re not.’”
“Because essentially we’re saying ‘We’re more outstanding than you,’” he added during the April 2015 event hosted by the Texas Patriots PAC. "'By the way, you’ve been eating our lunch for the last 20 years, but we’re more exceptional than you.’ I don’t like the term. I never liked it. When I see these politicians get up [and say], 'the American exceptionalism' -- we’re dying. We owe $18 trillion in debt. I’d like to make us exceptional. And I’d like to talk later instead of now.”
However, the president's "America First" foreign policy remains unfettered.
Democratic challenger and former vice president Joe Biden had a different response to escalating conflicts between protesters and law enforcement agents.
"I urge the president to join me in saying that while peaceful protest is a right -- a necessity -- violence is wrong, period," he said in a statement responding to Trump's remarks about the violence.
"No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period," Biden asserted. "If Donald Trump can't say that, then he is unfit to be President, and his preference for more violence -- not less -- is clear.”
"The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now he's trying to scare America," Biden said earlier Monday during remarks at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
"[Trump] can't stop the violence because for years he has fomented it," Biden said. "He may believe mouthing the words 'law and order' makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is."
While Biden did not directly address crime spikes in places like New York City and Miami during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) -- spikes the president has largely blamed on Democratic leadership, although Vox has reported the worrying jumps have been bipartisan -- he did discuss American history.
Parts of U.S. history itself have been key polarizing issues on 2020's political front lines. More than a hundred Confederate statues have been removed or vandalized after the Black Lives Matter movement picked up steam following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
"You know, American history tells us that it’s been in our darkest moments that we’ve made our greatest progress; that we’ve found the light," Biden pointed out in his speech.
"For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear. And light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment. This is our mission," he added. "May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here, tonight, as love and hope and light join in the battle for the soul of the nation."