Mount Rushmore was featured on an episode of the current season of the truTV show Adam Ruins Everything. On the show host Adam Conover busts myths and corrects misconceptions about everything from education to suburbs. It's a very good, informative, and funny, show.

The episode with South Dakota's most famous landmark was called Adam Ruins His Vacation. During the episode Adam talks about how Vegas gambling is designed to be a rip-off; the dark history that led to Hawaii becoming a hot vacy spot; how Americans have a hard time relaxing and taking vacations; and finally a segment on Mount Rushmore. As Adam describes it on the show, Mount Rushmore is America's "weirdest national monument."

Why is that? Here what he says:

  • In person it's surprisingly small.
  • It's unfinished.
  • It was designed to be a tourist trap, to get people to come to South Dakota.
  • Roosevelt is on the mountain because he was friends with the sculptor.
  • Plus there's the whole, broken treaty/stolen land thing.

Along with the fascinating stuff you can learn in each episode of Adam Ruins Everything, I really like the core message of the show, which is usually reiterated at the end, that knowing the truth of an event, or story, or even a monument doesn't mean that that thing is less important or worthless. Knowing the truth, accepting the changing nature of our understanding of the world, and looking at history with a critical but understanding eye enhances our world.

We can still marvel at the great feat that is sculpting a massive monument to America that will stand for thousands, if not millions, of years. While at the same time acknowledging the dark history of the monument. That acknowledgement leads to understanding and maybe reconciliation.

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