Jeh Johnson: Removal of Confederate Statues a Matter of 'Homeland Security'

August 20, 2017

Former Obama administration official Jeh Johnson said the removal of Confederate statues was a matter of "public safety and homeland security" on Sunday.

In the aftermath of deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., when a man with white nationalist ties was arrested for ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters last week and killing a woman, Confederate monuments across the country have been taken down. The furor in Charlottesville began with a protest by white supremacists against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Johnson served as Secretary of Homeland Security under Obama, and he said on ABC's "This Week" that the monuments to Confederates were helping to rally white nationalists.

"What alarms so many of us from a security perspective is that so many of the statues, the Confederate monuments, are now, modern-day, becoming symbols and rallying points for white nationalism, for neo-Nazis, for the KKK, and this is most alarming," Johnson said. "We fought a world war against Naziism. The KKK reigned terror on African Americans for generations."

"I salute those in cities and states who are taking down a lot of these monuments for reasons of public safety and security," he added. "And that's not a a matter of political correctness. That's a matter of public safety and homeland security and doing what's right."

Host Martha Raddatz said she felt the Trump administration would call that a "slippery slope," referring to local Washington locations like Washington-Lee High School and Jefferson Davis Highway.

"Where should that stop?" Raddatz asked.

Johnson said those kinds of decisions should be made at the local level.

President Donald Trump slammed the removal of such monuments as "foolish" and for ripping apart the "history and culture of our great country."