The “Treason” ad comes as protests against the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, have spread to at least 140 cities across the United States.
The conservative group behind the viral Mourning in America ad released its latest ad on Sunday targeting President Donald Trump.
In a 60-second ad, the Lincoln Project set its sights not only on Trump, but the confederate flag and those who support it—individuals Trump has called “very fine people,” and who frequently attend his rallies.
“The men who followed this flag 150 years ago knew what it meant,” the narrator begins. “Treason against their country. The death of the United States.”
The “Treason” ad comes as protests against the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, have spread to at least 140 cities across the United States. Americans of all ages, races, and backgrounds have taken to the streets to demand justice for his killing and an end to police brutality against Black Americans, which has gone unpunished for decades. Activists say this violence represents the legacy of slavery.
Slavery, of course, was carried out under the guise of the confederate flag, and the Lincoln Project made a direct connection between the ongoing protests and the violence perpetrated upon Black Americans before, during, and after the Civil War.
“The Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery and disunion. Its history is one of sowing division and oppression. Those who fly it proudly are celebrating the legacy of American slavery, the wrongful, and violent insurrection that followed, and the oppressive Jim Crow regime that came into power in many states,” Reed Galen, co-founder of The Lincoln Project said in a statement. “No patriotic American should brandish or proudly celebrate the iconography of a rebellion that resulted in tremendous devastation, the loss of more than 620,000 American lives, and the continued subjugation of Black America.”
Trump, who lashed out at the Lincoln Project following their “Mourning in America” ad, has yet to comment on their latest effort. Instead, he spent Monday evening authorizing police and military personnel in Washington, D.C. to fire flashbang shells, tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of peaceful protesters, so that he could get a photo op outside St. Jonathan’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
Trump’s actions—authorizing an attack on peaceful Americans so he could be seen holding a bible—were condemned by Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington D.C., which has oversight of the church.
“It almost looked like a prop,” Budde told NPR. “That is the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It speaks messages of love, of God, love of neighbor. I was outraged that he felt that he had the license to do that, and that he would abuse our sacred symbols and our sacred space in that way.”
With a few exceptions, elected Republicans were silent on Trump’s stunt. A dozen Republican senators either declined to comment on Trump’s actions, said they hadn’t seen it, minced words, or made up other excuses for not commenting. Among those lawmakers were Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who said he “didn’t really see it,” Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who said “I didn’t watch it closely enough to know,” and Sens. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Rob Portman of Ohio, who told NBC reporter Katie Tur they were late for lunch.
Members of the Lincoln Project, however, blasted Trump’s actions. Rick Wilson called Trump “weird and weak” and “blustery and bizarre,” and John Weaver called it an act of “depravity,” and a “dangerous stunt that will backfire.” One of the group’s other leaders, Steve Schmidt, went even further.
Long-time conservative columnist George Will also took Trump to task in a Washington Post op-ed in which he called Trump the “Crybaby-In-Chief,” a “weak person’s idea of a strong person,” and called for Trump’s removal from office.
The “Treason” ad, which has garnered more than 7.5 million views on Twitter as of Wednesday, issues the same call and makes clear the stakes of the moment.
“What does it say that they’re all in for Trump? What does it say that he won’t condemn the flag of hate, division, and losers?,” the ad’s narrator says. “For us, it says this is a time for choosing: America or Trump.”