The nation’s rebellion against police violence and racism led to state and local actions against statues honoring Confederates, but many federal symbols honoring Civil War rebels, including Army base names, remain untouched.
That’s the way it will stay, if President Trump has his way.
“My Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations,” he tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Yet, the bases and Confederate statues at the Capitol are in the incongruous position of exalting people who raised arms against the United States government and who killed members of its military in defense of white supremacy and black enslavement.
The Confederate soldiers and officials are traitors, under the constitutional definition of treason: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
Honoring the Confederates, however, is particularly senseless at the 10 Army bases named for rebel generals who led the fight against the U.S. Army. The bases are:
● Fort Rucker (Gen. Edmund Rucker), Alabama.
● Fort Benning (Brig. Gen. Henry L. Benning), Georgia.
● Fort Gordon (Maj. Gen. John Brown Gordon), Georgia.
● Camp Beauregard (Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard), Louisiana.
● Fort Polk (Gen. Leonidas Polk), Louisiana.
● Fort Bragg (Gen. Braxton Bragg), North Carolina.
● Fort Hood (Gen. John Bell Hood), Texas.
● Fort A.P. Hill (Gen. A.P. Hill), Virginia.
● Fort Lee (Gen. Robert E. Lee), Virginia.
● Fort Pickett (Gen. George Pickett), Virginia.
Statues honoring white-supremacist politicians also degrade the Capitol. Standing tall in the Capitol or on its grounds are statues of:
● Confederate president Jefferson Davis.
Confederate vice president Alexander Hamilton Stephens.
● Proslavery senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina.
● Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton III.
● Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
● Confederate Col. James Zachariah George.
● Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith.
● Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler.
● Charles Brantley Aycock, a racist North Carolina governor.
In addition, two Naval Academy buildings, Maury Hall and Buchanan House, the superintendent’s residence, are named for Confederate officers. Also, a Navy ship, the guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville, is named after a Confederate Civil War victory.
There are Democratic congressional efforts to address the Confederate memorials, and a Pentagon statement indicated an openness “to a bi-partisan discussion on the topic.”
But, Trump’s tweets made his opposition to renaming the bases as clear as his allegiances to Confederate apologists: “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage …Respect our Military!”
Apparently, it is of no matter to Trump that the Confederacy attacked “our military” and killed American soldiers.
On Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the removal of the Capitol Confederate statues, saying they “pay homage to hate, not heritage.”
Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) proposed renaming all bases named for Confederate generals, saying, “It’s long past time to end the tribute to white supremacy on our military installations.”
In August, Democratic Reps. Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.) and Dwight Evans (Pa.) introduced legislation prohibiting federal funding to create or display “any Confederate symbol on Federal public land.” The bill says the defense secretary “shall redesignate” the Army installations named after Confederate Civil War generals.
“We should not be using taxpayer dollars in any way to contribute to this type of racist, white-supremacist type of behavior,” Evans said, “under no circumstances.”
In December, the House approved legislation by Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) that would bar naming any military assets in honor of the Confederacy. “Why are you going to praise someone who tried to tear down the Union,” he asked. “It doesn’t make sense.”
The Pentagon’s statement, previously reported by Politico, said “each Army installation is named for a soldier who has a significant place in our military history. Accordingly, the historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies.”
That ignores the fact that the individuals represented a cause, the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy, an ideology that romanticizes the pre-Civil War South, the Confederates and is “accompanied by a collective forgetting of the horrors of slavery,” according to Virginia Humanities, the state humanities council.
A statement from the Navy ignored questions about the Naval Academy buildings and the cruiser, but said Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, “has directed his staff to begin crafting an order that would prohibit the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas aboard Navy installations, ships, aircraft and submarines.” That follows similar actions by the Marines.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy oversaw construction of Confederate statues in Richmond. They have been targeted for removal by state and local officials, as is the case with statues elsewhere. The Daughters did not respond to a request for comment on the military bases. A spokesman for the American Legion, the largest veterans service organization, said its national executive committee expects to address Army base names in October, but for now “the military has the right to rename its bases and forts whenever it chooses to do so. The American Legion does not object to that.”
The Legion takes no position on the base names now, no matter how objectionable the names are.