Pete Hegseth says US is locked 'in a cultural civil war' and Trump is defending a 'love of America'

“Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth told “Outnumbered” on Wednesday that America was engaged "in a cultural civil war" after demonstrators in Madison, Wis. toppled statues, vandalized buildings and assaulted a Democratic state senator after daylong protests turned violent.

Statues of "Lady Forward," and Union Army Col. Hans Christian Heg were torn down and removed from the grounds of the State Capitol. A city official told the Wisconsin State Journal that both statues had been recovered, but protesters had removed a leg of the Heg statue.

“Why do you tear down as statue in Wisconsin of a Union leader?” host Melissa Francis asked Hegseth Wednesday.

“Because it’s not about the Civil War," Hegseth answered. "It’s about that flag that was burned outside of the White House, it is about a burning hatred for America.

“We’re in a cultural civil war here,” Hegseth continued. “We’re in the middle of a fracture.”

Hegseth went on to explain the protesters targeting statues and monuments for vandalism and destruction are primarily "Marxists affiliated with Antifa and BLM [Black Lives Matter], [and] the Democrat party [is] completely enabling them.”

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“They start with the idea that it was the Civil War or Confederates, now they’re tearing down [statues of Union Army commander Ulysses S.] Grant, now they’re tearing down this colonel in Wisconsin,” he noted.

However, Hegseth predicted, the violence is “going to backlash back" at the rioters.

“We’ve seen in social media and elsewhere, Yale University [is] named after a slave trader. What does Yale do about that?” Hegseth asked. “What about New York City? The Duke of York himself [was] a slave trader centuries ago.”

“Does everything get renamed?"he asked. "Does everything get torn down?”

“The left-wing mob is trying to demolish our heritage so they can replace it with a new repressive regime that they alone control.” President Trump said at an event in Arizona Tuesday, adding that "tearing down statues” and “desecrating monuments" is “not the behavior of a peaceful political movement.”

“I think President Trump recognizes that defending a simple love of America, defending 1776 against 1619 is still where most Americans are,” Hegseth said.

“You can recognize the sins of the past without tearing them down,” he continued. “You have to confront it. You can’t let the mob take over, otherwise the mob erases history and writes their own.”

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Trump is expected to sign an executive order by the end of the week that would protect public statues and federal monuments and make vandalizing or any destruction to them punishable by jail time, Fox News has learned.

Sources told Fox News Wednesday that the text of the executive order is still being finalized. But the president said in a tweet earlier this week that people who deface, damage, or destroy federal monuments and statues should get "up to 10 years in prison."

Fox News’ Stephen Sorace, Brooke Singman and John Roberts contributed to this report.