Donald Trump's Shout Out To Leif Erikson Day Gets Snippy Twitter Response
President Donald Trump recognized October 9 as Leif Erikson Day - a celebration of the Nordic explorer who set foot on the North American continent some 500 years before Christopher Columbus - and it wasn't long before critics hit social media on Friday to discuss the Spread recognition.
In a White House press release, Eirkson was described as "the first European to discover the new world" and praised as an example of Nordic immigration to America.
"Leif Erikson's story, carried out in the face of immense danger and in the service of Judeo-Christian values, reflects the fundamental truths of American character," said the press release signed by Trump.
“Leif Erikson and his crew got off course on a mission to evangelize Greenland. They had to brave the cold waters of the North Atlantic to find a safe haven on the North American coast. To survive this ordeal, these die-hard Vikings tested the limits of human exploration in ways that continue to inspire us to this day. "
Leif Erikson Day is not a new holiday. States with prominent North American populations have celebrated the day, and presidents have taken note of it since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
Canada and Iceland, Erikson's birthplace, also commemorate his travels and the establishment of a Nordic settlement in Vinland - which is believed to be somewhere near Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
A statue of Leif Erikson in the center of Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo: RPBMedia via Getty Images)
But Twitter critics picked up on the language of Trump's press release, particularly the emphasis on "Judeo-Christian values" and "North Americans whose faith and determination are woven into the fabric of our nation."
Some Nordic commentators came out in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Others suggested Trump should look to the Nordic countries' universal health systems as an example for the US.
Still others argued that the Trump administration's language was aimed at white supremacists whom the president did not directly condemn during his first presidential debate last week.
Many white supremacist organizations have co-opted Nordic imagery for their own purposes, and neo-Nazi groups such as the Vinlanders Social Club promote "a racist, pagan religion known as Odinism, once practiced by Vikings," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Twitter critics also wanted to point out that Erikson may have been the first European to venture on North American shores, but praised him for any "discovery" overlooked by the indigenous peoples who had lived there for centuries.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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