In the midst of protests, riots, and attempts to tear down our nation’s monuments, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, recently took time to visit monuments across the country, stopping at Independence Hall, Fort McHenry, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the U.S. Capitol. He joins The Daily Signal Podcast to talk about why he chose to do this during one of the most turbulent times in recent American history.
Roy also discusses how he thinks America should think and respond to attacks against the country’s history and her Founding Fathers. Read the lightly edited transcript, pasted below, or listen on the podcast:
We also cover these stories:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci isn’t confident in our nation’s ability to handle the coronavirus.
- New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut added three more states to their mandatory quarantine list.
- The president of Brazil has come down with the coronavirus.
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Rachel del Guidice: I’m joined today on The Daily Signal Podcast by Congressmen Chip Roy of Texas. Congressman Roy, it’s great to have you on The Daily Signal Podcast.
Rep. Chip Roy: The pleasure is mine. I’m glad to join you all.
Del Guidice: Well, it’s great to have you with us. So last week, as the country has been reeling from protests and riots and attempts to tear down our nation’s monuments, you visited a number of them, including Independence Hall in Philly, Fort McHenry in Baltimore, and then we were back in D.C. to visit the Jefferson Memorial and some of the other monuments in our nation’s capital. Why did you go to these places, congressman, amidst such unrest?
Roy: Well, a lot of folks have been focusing, rightly, on the statues that are getting toppled, getting tossed into the rivers, or getting pulled down. Obviously, Andrew Jackson outside of the White House became a focal point a couple of weeks ago. And we’ve been rightly focused on that as a nation.
What I thought is more important is the ideas that are represented, not the perfection of any of the individuals that are memorialized or put forward as a monument, but rather the ideas of this great nation and what they represent. And I think it was really important for us to focus on that.
So on Thursday of last week, I drove up to Philadelphia from Washington and went with a few of my staffers who had never been to Independence Hall before.
Frankly, we were able to poke our head in and go inside, which was fantastic to be there on July 2 on the exact anniversary to the day, 244 years since they voted to separate from the crown and to declare independence.
And I wanted to present to folks the importance of these historical moments for the rights of man, for the ideals they represent, the equality, … life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the things that set the stage for the greatness of this country.
Some people think the ultimate emancipation and then freedom for those who had been enslaved and then fighting through the Jim Crow period think that those things happened in spite of the declaration, and they’re wrong. Those things happen as a direct result of the declaration, a direct result of the Constitution that we crafted in the spirit of that declaration and all that went into that.
And I think that we have got to stand up as a people and remind this generation and the next generation of the greatness of this country, unapologetically, unflinchingly. And that was the purpose behind doing that.
So, we had a nice tour. We went to Independence Hall. We went to Fort McHenry in Baltimore on the way back, where “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written and where it flew. And then came back to D.C. and visited a number of our memorials and monuments—Roosevelt, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial—and talked about those things.
Del Guidice: You mentioned a lot of the monuments you visited. Do you have a favorite memorial or monument or one that’s really made an impression on you, especially in this time that we’re in currently?
Roy: Well, I mean, going to Independence Hall, to be there, to be physically in the room, to be where those gentlemen met to, frankly, sign their death warrant, to commit treason against the crown and knowing that they did that.
And King George told them that, right? I mean, King George wrote back and said, “Good luck, you guys are committing treason.” And they did that knowing the consequences. And keep in mind, we’re in the middle of smallpox, you had to travel by horse and carriage.
You want to talk about difficulty, you want to talk about risk, let’s talk about what the Founders did in order to break off from the crown and give us that. And so now that means a lot to me.
And then I would also say the Jefferson Memorial. I’m a graduate of the University of Virginia. I think that as John Adams liked to note about Thomas Jefferson’s pen, he had a pen that puts most of us in awe in terms of how he’s able to assemble words. And obviously, we see that in the declaration that was clearly significantly written by him.
I pointed out in my video at the Jefferson Memorial that Thomas Jefferson, despite being president of United States, secretary of state, vice president of the United States, governor of Virginia, all of these glorious titles, wanted to be remembered on his tombstone for simply one general idea, three things, right?
And that was being the author of the Declaration of Independence, author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia. And this is because he wanted to pursue reason.
He wanted to ensure that we were standing up for the rights of man. And these were ideas that far exceed any of the titles that he had in any of the positions that he had. And that to me is what this is all about, right?
I mean, Jefferson, of all people, would want us to have a spirited debate right now. Have serious conversations about things like qualified immunity and how people are treated and due process and these things.
We absolutely should have those conversations, but we should do those within the context of the rule of law. And we should do those things in full admiration of the system that we’ve created to work for mankind in this country and around the world.
Del Guidice: Before we get more into the visits that you made on this monument tour, can you talk a little bit about what your reaction and reflections have been to all the mob violence we’ve seen since the death of George Floyd?
Roy: All of us were outraged by what we saw occur in Minneapolis. I’m outraged by any law enforcement officer that would carry themselves in that way. But I’m also outraged by mobs that are killing people, mobs that are destroying property, livelihoods, businesses.
Let’s be very clear, a lot of black people are being killed and a lot of black businesses are getting destroyed in the name of quote, unquote “Black Lives Matter.”
And it’s not a phrase. All Americans agree with the phrase, about lives mattering, black, white, Hispanic, anybody. But this is about an organization that at its core is challenging and wanting to overturn the very institutions and the core and the foundation that made this country great. And we’re seeing this unfold.
We saw the death of an 8-year-old black girl in Atlanta just this past weekend. We saw a 19-year-old black man get killed in the supposed autonomous zone, whatever you call these things, where it’s lawless, and watched a father distraught over the loss of his son.
I can go through example, after example. We saw a man killed in broad daylight in New York City, washing his car. He’s a father and he’s gone. We saw a 3-year-old black baby killed in Chicago two weeks ago when we had 104 shootings and 14 murders.
This is the kind of thing that happens when you throw law and order over the wall. When we talk about that thin blue line, when we talk about that barrier between us and lawlessness, we’re seeing that unfold.
And while we should stand up vigorously in public debate and do what we can for equality, justice, due process, like I said, let’s have a debate about all of these things, let’s have a debate about the power of unions, let’s have a debate about qualified immunity and how it should work or shouldn’t work.
I believe we should have qualified immunity for law enforcement, but I don’t believe that that qualified immunity should shut the door to an American citizen seeking redress for grievances, for believing their right was violated. Great, let’s have that debate, but we’re not having that debate. We’re having mob rule. We’re having people get killed. Lives are destroyed, businesses getting burned, and that is not the way things should work.
My grandfather was a chief of police of a small Texas town. I was a former federal prosecutor, I believe in enforcing law. We absolutely should. And the rule of law is the thing that sets our country apart, that we are ruled by laws, not men. And we have to adhere to the rule of law if we want to sustain that.
Del Guidice: When you visited Independence Hall, you tweeted that we need to celebrate this great country and unapologetically stand up for this great country. What is your message to those who want to just tear these landmarks down?
Roy: That when Jefferson concluded the declaration and wrote that with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, that we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. That he wasn’t just talking about those 56 men sitting there in Independence Hall. He was talking about all of us.
We do that every day as Americans, we pledge to each other, right? We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunate, our sacred honor. That is what the declaration was, is, and will be. And it is who we are as Americans. It is our birthright and we stand up for that. Or as [President Ronald] Reagan said, “That freedom is just one generation away from extinction.”
We have an obligation to stand up and fight for the principles, the ideals that founded our country, and that we’ve continued to develop and strive to achieve, but yet we never will achieve them because you guys, myself, all of us, we’re all flawed. We all know that.
I’m a Christian. I’m taught that we are flawed and we fall short of the glory of God. And that means we’re going to sin and we’re going to make mistakes, and we’re going to do bad things. But the key is staying focused on the ideals of what man can achieve when we’re free. What we can achieve when we have equal justice.
When we look at the fact that all men are created equal, when we remember that and we act under that, then we continue to have the greatest country on Earth.
But right now, what we’re seeing in cancel culture, what we’re seeing in mob rule, what we’re seeing in attacking our very foundation institutions, is we’re seeing the opposite of those things. We’re tearing down that fabric that has made our country great.
So to me, we look at our founding as setting out the ideal that we’re continuing to strive to achieve and we work to perfect this union, and that’s the message for the next generation, right? We’re not a nation of quitters. We’re not a nation that tears things up. We’re a nation that moves forward and achieves greatness by building on what the generation before us achieved.
Del Guidice: As you were on this tour, making these stops at our various monuments, what kinds of things did you see, congressman? Were people around, visiting as well? Did you see any protests? What were you happening upon as you made these stops?
Roy: Frankly, it was relatively quiet in significant part because of the situation with the virus. Normally Independence Hall would be abuzz with activity on July 2. They would have activities and festivities, and they would have a long line of tourists going into the Independence Hall, but it was closed down. So there was no festivities.
And of course, people are largely being told to avoid public places and so forth. So there was nobody there, there was a handful of people that were visitors in town that would wander by.
The same thing is true at Fort McHenry. The visitor center was closed, but you could walk up there. And there were a handful of folks there that were walking around. Same thing at all the various memorials in D.C. Again, everybody is pretty quiet right now.
Lincoln Memorial was abuzz with normal people walking around the Mall and Jefferson Memorial is under construction. So it’s pretty quiet. Actually, it was kind of loud, funny, because it was under construction. But right now people are kind of pulled back from those things.
But what I saw, it was actually kind of a unique time to be able to go around to those things with my staff, because it was so quiet. It allowed for a greater level of reflection rather than sort of the normal buzz of tourist activity, right? It was less tourism and it was more of us …
The Park Service is very generous, and because I’m a member of Congress, they allowed us to go into the building. So we got to be in there just three or four of us and be in the hall on July 2. It’s something I will never forget, the opportunity to do that. And then go over to the buildings where the first five Congresses met between 1790 and 1800. So it was a great honor to be able to do it.
Del Guidice: When you visited the Jefferson Memorial, you talked about on Twitter how it’s time we stop hiding behind elections and polls and do the right thing because it is the right thing. You also mentioned how Jefferson wasn’t afraid to tell a king in writing to pound sand.
So how would you encourage your colleagues in Congress to find their voices, especially during this time?
Roy: Well, what I meant by that is while we’re sitting around and people are trying to tear down these monuments and these historic artifacts—again, I’m not getting as caught up in that. I’m offended by that. And we ought to stop it. It’s lawless. This is happening on federal property, state property. And we ought to stop that.
What I’m most concerned about is ripping down and tearing down our ideals in the name of a movement, which is not about justice or equality, but it’s about power. And it’s about, frankly, by their own admission, advancing a Marxist ideology, whether you’re talking about Antifa or whether you’re talking about the Black Lives Matter organization.
I’m not talking about people who want to stand up and say that black lives matter. I’m talking about the Black Lives Matter organization and groups that are effectively engaged in organized crime. And that’s what we’re talking about.
I’m a former federal prosecutor, I’ve been looking at this. It is hard to look at what’s going on and not see it as full-fledged organized crime. And I’ve encouraged the Department of Justice to look at that and to go into it and go find the perpetrators of this crime and to prosecute them because that’s what we should do.
And it is high time for Republicans, in particular conservatives, to stand up in defense of the things we believe in and stand up in defense of the rule of law and stand up in defense of the men and women and our police and law enforcement who are standing up trying to defend us and keep the peace and keep us safe. And stand behind them and alongside them.
Yes, calling them out when they’re wrong and standing up for the rule of law and standing up in defense of civil liberties, but not to cower, not to shy away, not to huddle up in the corner, wringing your hands, saying that you’re not going to want to take on the Black Lives Matter organization or effort that is, frankly, putting forward a lawlessness that is endangering lives.
We should call out the welfare state that has endangered and destroyed the black family. We should call out the very socialist Marxist ideology that has driven the left in this country to seek power for government over the mind of man.
We ought to make that clear that that is detrimental to black families, detrimental to Hispanic families. That the American dream is alive and well when you get government out of the way and you allow people to be able to excel and to prosper at their own hands and through their own work and their own personal responsibility, their own self-reliance. And that the core job and duty of government is to secure the blessings of liberty. It is why the Constitution was founded to do just that, is secure the blessings of liberty.
So that is what we should stand up for openly and without shame and unapologetically.
Del Guidice: At George Washington University you talked about how disappointing the actions of the past weeks have been due to the mobs and violence that we’ve talked about. So how would you encourage those in your home state of Texas, as well as citizens across the country, to stand up for America?
Roy: I think it’s critically important that all Texans, all Americans make their voice heard about what they seek, and they seek the rule of law and they seek a future for their kids and grandkids that is built upon the rule of law and a firm respect and reliance on our founding principles and notions that this country’s stood for and bled for.
I, frankly, think it’s critically important that we look at this as an opportunity to rethink our educational system because it has failed us. Our educational system over the last generation or two or three has been so far removed from educating our future generations about the greatness of this country and what it stands for and what it means. We need to rethink that.
And I hope during this virus that a lot of parents are starting to rethink education and rethink about what they need to do to be able to make sure that their kids and all of our kids understand and respect this great country and will stand up in defense of her.
I just think people can’t sit idly by. If you want to ensure that your communities are safe, you can’t wait for Washington, D.C., or Austin, Texas, and the state government to take care of it. We’re Americans. We take care of ourselves.
When there was a bomber running around Austin, Texas, a couple of years back, a bomb went off about a mile from my kid’s school. And the dads showed up in mass to our school the next morning. Why? Because we wanted to stand up and send a message that we’re going to be taking care of our kids at our school and paying attention to the community around us. That is our obligation.
When my great-great-grandfather moved to Texas, and it was here in the 1850s, he saddled up to be a Texas Ranger in the 1870s. Why? Because the Comanche raids, 100% because of Comanche raids. I’m not going to apologize for that. I’m glad he did it. That was a part of settling the West. It was a part of dealing with securing your communities.
And I’m not going to apologize because somebody may have mistreated some Comanche Indians in one situation, but we’re defending their families in another situation.
That’s the reality of what our history is. And it is part of who we are as a country, and I’m not going to apologize for it. We learn from it, we learn how to improve and learn how to treat each other with respect.
But I hear all this stuff about South Dakota and the Indians and Lakota tribe. And then you talk about Sioux Indians. Let’s talk about the warfare between Indian tribes. Let’s talk about the very violent actions that were carried out between and among warring tribes. Because we’re mankind and we’ve fallen and that’s what we do.
But this country has stood for something bigger and better than that in terms of our republic and the rule of law and our democracy. And we ought to do it proudly and openly.
Del Guidice: Well, Congressman Roy, thank you so much for joining us here today on The Daily Signal Podcast. It’s been great to have you on.
Roy: I appreciate it. Thank you all for what you do and God bless America.