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Rep. Dusty Johnson introduces ‘Mount Rushmore Protection Act’ after ex-NBA player calls to retire phrase

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FOX EXCLUSIVE: Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota introduced a bill Friday to protect the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in response to calls by former NBA player and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose to retire the use of “Mount Rushmore” when listing all-time greats over claims it is “offensive.” 

The Mount Rushmore Protection Act prohibits the use of federal funds “to alter, change, destroy or remove the likeness, the name of or any of the faces on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial,” according to a press release from Johnson’s office. 

The busts of former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln tower over the Black Hills at Mount Rushmore National Monument in Keystone, S.D., on July 1, 2020.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“The four presidents on Mount Rushmore championed the cause of freedom,” Johnson told Fox News Digital in a statement. 

“Our nation has an imperfect past, but the calls to cancel Mount Rushmore will not move our nation forward. My legislation ensures the protection and beauty of Mount Rushmore for generations to come.”

‘MOUNT RUSHMORE’ TERM IS ‘OFFENSIVE’ AND SHOULD BE ‘RETIRED,’ ESPN’S JALEN ROSE SAYS

The bill was introduced in response to a video posted to social media by Rose earlier this month when the former NBA player called on the public to “retire using ‘Mount Rushmore'” when listing the all-time greats across sports, music and entertainment. 

“Can we retire using ‘Mount Rushmore'? That should be offensive to all of us, especially Native Americans, the Indigenous people who were the first people here before Christopher Columbus,” Rose said. 

“That land was stolen from them when it was discovered that it contained gold. And 25 years later, to add insult to injury, four American presidents were put on what we call Mount Rushmore on the top of the dead bodies that is buried right underneath.

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“So, I call for you and for myself — I'm owning this, too — let's stop using the term ‘Mount Rushmore' when we're talking about our favorite rappers, talking about our favorite movies, talking about our favorite players.”

ESPN analyst Jalen Rose speaks before Game 7 of the 2022 NBA Eastern Conference finals at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida, on May 29, 2022.

ESPN analyst Jalen Rose speaks before Game 7 of the 2022 NBA Eastern Conference finals at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida, on May 29, 2022.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Rose pointed to the recent name changes of the Washington Commanders and the Cleveland Guardians, calling their original names “offensive.”

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“Why do you think Washington changed their name from Redskins? I do a show and didn't say that word for eight years,” he said. “Because it's offensive. What about the Cleveland Indians? Same thing. Why did they change the name? Because it's offensive.”

A detailed view of the new Washington Commanders uniforms at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on Feb. 2, 2022.

A detailed view of the new Washington Commanders uniforms at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on Feb. 2, 2022.
(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Washington retired its former name in July 2020 after decades of complaints that it was offensive to Native Americans. The organization opted to use the name Washington Football Team as a placeholder. In February, the organization revealed the Commanders as the official team name. 

Similarly, MLB's Cleveland franchise, which had been known as the Indians since 1915, officially changed its name to the Guardians following the 2021 season.

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