As more and more statues of Confederate leaders come down across the United States, country music legend Charlie Daniels is speaking out about the movement — likening it to ISIS’ demolition of historical sites in the Middle East.
“That’s what ISIS is doing,” the 80-year-old Country Music Hall of Famer explained during an interview with cable network Newsmax TV on Wednesday. “There were pieces of history over there they didn’t like and they were taking them down.”
“Where does it go to? Where does it stop?” Daniels asked host Rita Cosby. “Is it going to be Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson or are we headed into Jefferson, Washington, who were both slave owners? How deep into history are we going to go? Everybody that we disagree with, [are] we going to have to wipe every semblance of them out? Is that what this’ll all be about? Is that what this is, is that where it’s going to go?”
His comments seem to echo those of president Donald Trump, who condemned the removal of memorials dedicated to Confederate leaders in the Civil War on Twitter Thursday.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” the 71-year-old former Celebrity Apprentice host tweeted. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
Trump continued, “Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”
Daniels — the Southern-rocker known for his no. 1 hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” — had similar concerns and argued that Americans didn’t need to agree with the politics of the figures involved.
“You don’t have to condone what happened in the Civil War. We all know what it was fought for. But they are statues of people that are a part of our history,” he said. “There are people who were part of our history who were not very savory characters. But Robert E. Lee, for instance, was one of the most honorable people in our history.”
“If you don’t like it, don’t look at it,” he added. “I walk past movie posters I don’t like. …There’s all kinds of symbolism in this country that I don’t like, but I’m not going to go tear them down. I just don’t look at them. They’re not standing there talking. These statues aren’t preaching or shouting out some kind of crazy epithets or something. They’re just sitting there. So just turn around and don’t look at them.”
Fans of Daniels will be familiar with his outspoken political views. “The media and opportunists act as if the two factions in Charlottesville represent the attitudes of the whole country,” he tweeted on Thursday of Saturday’s headline-making protests by white-supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia that left one dead. “Believe me, it doesn’t.”
After Thursday’s terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain — in which a van barreled into the city’s popular Las Ramblas tourist district, killing 13 people and injuring 100 more — Daniels tweeted, “Did a hell of a lot of good for Spain to cave in to the terrorists when they blew up that train a few years ago.”
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of Saturday’s tragedy, the city of Baltimore voted to remove a statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney — the author of the Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and helped precipitate the Civil War. Officials also quietly removed four confederate monuments throughout the Maryland city on Tuesday night, CBS Baltimore reported.