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Dusty’s Unserious Bills Would Prevent Putting Trump’s Face or Name on Mount Rushmore

John Tsitrian noticed that Congressman Dusty Johnson is making some trivial noise about Mount Rushmore again. Last Tuesday, Johnson introduced H.R. 8721, a measure aimed at preserving the name of Mount Rushmore, and H.R. 8734, a measure to protect Mount Rushmore from any changes. Congressman Johnson appears to be recycling two Twitter-fodder bills he introduced in summer 2020:

Rep. Dusty Johnson, H.R. 7779, introduced 2020.07.24, screen cap from
Rep. Dusty Johnson, H.R. 7779, introduced 2020.07.24, 116th Congress, screen cap from

Rep. Dusty Johnson, H.R. 7358, introduced 2020.06.25, 116th Congress, screen cap from

Rep. Dusty Johnson, H.R. 7358, introduced 2020.06.25, 116th Congress, screen cap from
Rep. Dusty Johnson, H.R. 7358, introduced 2020.06.25, 116th Congress, screen cap from

Those bills went nowhere in the 116th Congress; Dusty’s retreads will go no further in the 117th. But his retreads are more bothersome now: residents of the Black Hills are threatening to commit armed violence against our country, and Congressman Johnson only feeds that insurrectionist rage by legislatively tilting at the flimsy windmill of Rushmore renamers.

If I were madly hopeful, I’d argue that this pitch for Fox airtime is really our man Dusty’s subtle way of standing up to the Trumpist pitchforkers. Remember that, back in June, Governor Kristi Noem sprinkled a little cold water on Trump’s geologically impossible dream of carving his face onto Mount Rushmore when shesaid the monument “is pretty special just the way it is.” Maybe Johnson’s H.R. 8374 is intended to reinforce Noem’s rock-revision resistance, preventing any effort to use federal money to carve any new likeness into the mountain. As backup, Johnson’s H.R. 8721 would prevent any effort to rename the mountain for Trump. That madly hopeful interpretation is far more plausible than the Alex Jones/QAnon fantasies Trumpists have swallowed. Dusty had better watch out for MAGA maniacs who sniff out his effort to prevent their honoring the worst President ever on Mount Rushmore!

I wouldn’t mind a legal guarantee that Trump’s name will never grace any historical landmark, but I feel compelled to note that Johnson’s H.R. 8374 has one practical problem: in prohibiting the use of federal funds to “alter, change, destroy, or remove… any… feature on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial,” Johnson may inadvertently prevent the repair, replacement, or upgrading of the water bubblers, toilets, shops, diner, trails, ranger sheds, or other facilities around the Four Great Faces. The Memorial encompasses 1,278 acres, two square miles. We couldn’t use any federal road dollars to repave or restripe Highway 244 around the Memorial. The U.S. Forest Service couldn’t clear brush or remove trees. Congressman Johnson’s bills might serve to prevent the enshrinement of the Great Greedy Grimace in granite, but it would also monkey-wrench the normal maintenance of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

But careful wording to avoid such practical complications evidently doesn’t matter much when Congress critters file bills with no chance of passing just to stake out some culture-war ground.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-08-22 10:25

    David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother. He wrote in The Atlantic that he believes that most land held in America’s national parks, monuments and memorials should be remanded to Indigenous peoples but it’s my view that much of the land held in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service should also be part of that trust.

  2. Donald Pay 2022-08-22 11:59

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Dusty. We’ve got real problems in this country, problems that Dusty does little if anything to address, and he’s off trying to preserve name that had several different names until in a bit of a joke a local suggested it be name after a NEW YORK LAWYER!!!!!@ who was trying to mine tine near what your dippy Congressman probably still calls Mt. Harney. Dusty should know better, but he apparently didn’t read up on the history before he got roped into this bit of racist legislating.

    The Rapid City Journal did a story about the way Mr. Rushmore was named. It ain’t pretty. Let’s hope Dusty is going to use that bill to hoghouse a real name to that mountain. I prefer a Lakota name that translates to Six Grandfathers Mountain.

  3. John Dale 2022-08-22 13:57

    Oooooh .. I would LOVE to see Trump’s face on Mt. Rushmore!

  4. O 2022-08-22 14:12

    A better, more direct way to ensure that President Trump does not appear on Mt. Rushmore would have been to vote to convict him on the articles of impeachment.

  5. mike from iowa 2022-08-22 14:32

    Won’t never happen, Johnny rabbit hole refugee. There is no way to clear censors with your head deep inside drumpf’s butt.

  6. P. Aitch 2022-08-22 14:43

    Mount Rushmore has nothing to do with South Dakota. How does a carving by a racist on stolen Indian land become part of the Germans from Russia that are the defining group of SD?
    ASAP the carving should be turned into counter tops for every Indian home on every Indian reservation in the state. *Indian families not living on the Rez should get some granite, too.

  7. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-22 17:26

    When Peter Norbeck was Governor (1917 to 1921), he became obsessed with creating a large State Park in the Southern Black Hills and was taken with the beauty of the Needles, Cathedral Spires area which are near Mount Rushmore. With his chief highway engineer, he walked through the area, from Harney Peak and on through the Needles and Spires and on to what is now part of Iron Mountain Road, pounding in stakes to mark out a winding road through the mountains and spires. He stood on a high point surveying the serpentine path, and asked his engineer, “Can you make that road.”
    The engineer said, “If you have enough dynamite, I’ll make the road.”
    Norbeck said, “I don’t want any of these spires damaged.”
    The engineer said, “cars won’t be able to go over ten miles an hour on a road like that.”
    Norbeck said, “People would appreciate the wonder of all this much better if they parked their cars and walked.”

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-22 17:53

    Arlo lures me off topic: perhaps someone could hoghouse Dusty’s bill to protect Mount Rushmore by adopting Edward Abbey’s proposal from Desert Solitaire and banning all motor vehicles in the Black Hills National Forest. NO cars, no RVs, no four-wheelers. The National Park Service can use all the money we would save on road-building and maintenance to provide bicycles and horses at all entrances for visitors to use.

  9. grudznick 2022-08-22 18:14

    Re-wild the West!! None of those fancy electric bicycles. They are damned dangerous to pedestrians and loungers alike.

  10. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-22 20:40

    Cory–while the whole of the Black Hills National Forest might be too big a bite, certainly a portion as another Wilderness Area (there is one in Custer State Park and I understand that it is outstanding) would certainly be appropriate. I hold nothing against Mount Rushmore though I admit it”s an overwhelming visual and at times, at the peak of visitation, garish and thoughtless in the ways it’s celebrated. Think if you had to walk through the forest and mountains to get there. At first sight, that would be a truly overwhelming moment.

  11. Curt 2022-08-22 21:00

    Grudznick – You are dangerous to humans.

  12. grudznick 2022-08-22 22:10

    Mr. Curt, the only danger grudznick poses is when I convince people to “open your mind…”

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