Trump defends Christopher Columbus statues to Heritage Foundation

First President Trump hailed the carved symbols of Confederate racism as “beautiful,” and now he’s defending statues dedicated to Christopher Columbus — the man responsible for genocide of North America’s indigenous people.

“What’s next,” asked President Trump, speaking Tuesday night at the annual meeting for the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.

“Now they’re even trying to destroy statues of Christopher Columbus,” he told members of the right-wing think tank, apparently referring to a string of vandalisms targeting the Italian explorer.

He called for the preservation of history — rather than its destruction.

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Dallas removes Robert E. Lee statue
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Dallas removes Robert E. Lee statue
People watch the removal of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's statue in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Rex Curry
Police officers move people back from the area where Confederate general Robert E. Lee was removed in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Rex Curry
Workers remove the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Rex Curry
City of Dallas removes the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Rex Curry
TOPSHOT - Workers remove a statue of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Robert E. Lee Park in Dallas, Texas, on September 14, 2017. Confederate monuments of Civil War figures, who fought against the Union Army in an attempt to preserve slavery, have become central to the debate surrounding white supremacists and America's past. New momentum has built to remove such monuments after a violent white supremacist gathering in Virginia in support of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. / AFP PHOTO / Laura Buckman/AFP / Laura Buckman (Photo credit should read LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers remove a statue of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Robert E. Lee Park in Dallas, Texas, on September 14, 2017. Confederate monuments of Civil War figures, who fought against the Union Army in an attempt to preserve slavery, have become central to the debate surrounding white supremacists and America's past. New momentum has built to remove such monuments after a violent white supremacist gathering in Virginia in support of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. / AFP PHOTO / Laura Buckman/AFP / Laura Buckman (Photo credit should read LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dallas police stand guard as workers remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Robert E. Lee Park in Dallas, Texas, on September 14, 2017. Confederate monuments of Civil War figures, who fought against the Union Army in an attempt to preserve slavery, have become central to the debate surrounding white supremacists and America's past. New momentum has built to remove such monuments after a violent white supremacist gathering in Virginia in support of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. / AFP PHOTO / Laura Buckman/AFP / Laura Buckman (Photo credit should read LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dallas police stand guard as workers prepare to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Robert E. Lee Park in Dallas, Texas, on September 14, 2017. Confederate monuments of Civil War figures, who fought against the Union Army in an attempt to preserve slavery, have become central to the debate surrounding white supremacists and America's past. New momentum has built to remove such monuments after a violent white supremacist gathering in Virginia in support of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. / AFP PHOTO / Laura Buckman/AFP / Laura Buckman (Photo credit should read LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers prepare to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from Robert E. Lee Park in Dallas, Texas, on September 14, 2017. Confederate monuments of Civil War figures, who fought against the Union Army in an attempt to preserve slavery, have become central to the debate surrounding white supremacists and America's past. New momentum has built to remove such monuments after a violent white supremacist gathering in Virginia in support of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. / AFP PHOTO / Laura Buckman/AFP / Laura Buckman (Photo credit should read LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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“It has to be stopped,” Trump said. “You understand that our glorious heritage is the foundation of everything we hope to achieve.”

Vandals defaced a Columbus statue with a spraypaint tag calling for the removal of one bust in Queens, days after a similar tribute was knocked off its pedestal in Yonkers in August.

"Don't honor genocide. Take it down," the message demanded.

Protesters surrounded a 115-year-old statue of Columbus and called for its removal in Manhattan last week as the parade dedicated to him took place along Fifth Ave.

Trump’s remarks on Tuesday night follow a years-long campaign to nix the federal holiday dedicated to Columbus for its disrespect to Native Americans.

The President omitted mentions of Native American history in his Columbus Day proclamation.

Trump also repeated his call for “reverence and respect” for the American flag after spending weeks slamming athletes for bending the knee during “The Star Spangled Banner” for protesting racial injustices and police brutality.

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Klan members rally against removal of General Lee statue in Virginia
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Klan members rally against removal of General Lee statue in Virginia
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters shout at members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the Ku Klux Klan, standing near a tomato and and an orange that had been thrown at them by counter-protesters, hold a sign as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters shout at members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Protesters direct obscene gestures towards members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in support of Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the Ku Klux Klan openly wear firearms as they rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A counter-protester is detained as members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A woman who supports Confederate symbols and monuments is held by her husband (R) as she exchanges words with a counter-protester as they wait for members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in support of Confederate monuments, such as the statue of General Stonewall Jackson behind them, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters help a man affected by pepper gas as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police detain a counter-protester during the aftermath of a rally by members of the Ku Klux Klan in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - JULY 08: A Ku Klux Klan member is escorted out of Justice Park after a planned protest by the Klan on July 8, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The KKK is protesting the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee, and calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - JULY 08: Officers clash with counter protestors after the Ku Klux Klan staged a protest on July 8, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The KKK is protesting the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee, and calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)
A protester has his eyes washed after being tear gassed by police following a Ku Klux Klan rally, calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8, 2017. The afternoon rally in this quiet university town has been authorized by officials in Virginia and stirred heated debate in America, where critics say the far right has been energized by Donald Trump's election to the presidency. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Police are covered in tear gas used on counter-protesters following a Ku Klux Klan rally, calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8, 2017. The afternoon rally in this quiet university town has been authorized by officials in Virginia and stirred heated debate in America, where critics say the far right has been energized by Donald Trump's election to the presidency. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Ku Klux Klan looks on during a rally, calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8, 2017. The afternoon rally in this quiet university town has been authorized by officials in Virginia and stirred heated debate in America, where critics say the far right has been energized by Donald Trump's election to the presidency. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Ku Klux Klan carries a pistol during a rally, calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8, 2017. The afternoon rally in this quiet university town has been authorized by officials in Virginia and stirred heated debate in America, where critics say the far right has been energized by Donald Trump's election to the presidency. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Ku Klux Klan hold a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8, 2017 to protest the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee, who oversaw Confederate forces in the US Civil War. The afternoon rally in this quiet university town has been authorized by officials in Virginia and stirred heated debate in America, where critics say the far right has been energized by Donald Trump's election to the presidency. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Ku Klux Klan looks on during a rally, calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8, 2017. The afternoon rally in this quiet university town has been authorized by officials in Virginia and stirred heated debate in America, where critics say the far right has been energized by Donald Trump's election to the presidency. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Ku Klux Klan, with the word 'Love' tattooed on his fingers, holds a flag during a rally, calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8, 2017. The afternoon rally in this quiet university town has been authorized by officials in Virginia and stirred heated debate in America, where critics say the far right has been energized by Donald Trump's election to the presidency. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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