On Wednesday, President Donald Trump aka Cadet Bone Spurs, said he opposes any effort by the U.S. military to rename nearly one dozen military bases and installations that bear the names of Confederate military commanders.
Trump tweeted (but of course): “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a… ….history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”
Joe Davidson at the Washington Post asks, We’re still honoring those who fought against the U.S.A. Why, President Trump? (excerpt):
[T]he bases and Confederate statues at the Capitol [National Statuary Hall] 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.
[West Point honors Robert E. Lee with a gate, a road, an entire housing area, and a barracks, the last of which was built during the 1960s.]
I would hasten to point out that the Russell Senate Office Building is named after Senator Richard Brevard Russell Jr. (D-GA), a notorious segregationist who co-authored the Southern Manifesto (“Massive Resistance”) with Senator Strom Thurmond. Senate minority leader Charles Schumer has previously called for the renaming of the building.
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.
In a bipartisan move, the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday voted to require the Pentagon to rename military bases and other assets named after Confederate generals, a move that puts the Republican-led panel on a collision course with the White House. Senate Armed Services on collision course with Trump over Confederate names:
The committee adopted an amendment to the annual Pentagon policy bill that gives the Defense Department three years to remove the names of Confederate generals from U.S. military assets, according to a source familiar with the closed-door proceedings.
The language, adopted by voice vote as President Donald Trump preemptively threatened to veto any defense bill that did just that, affects massive bases like Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia. But it also goes further and includes everything from ships to streets on Defense Department property.
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered the provision, which she previewed on Twitter.
“I filed an amendment to the annual defense bill last week to rename all bases named for Confederate generals. It’s long past time to end the tribute to white supremacy on our military installations,” Warren tweeted Tuesday, though it was not clear at the time if the amendment would be offered, or if it had any chance of success.
The Massachusetts senator, a former presidential hopeful, tweeted in response to an opinion piece published by The Atlantic from retired Gen. David Petraeus, calling for renaming military forts.
“As I have watched Confederate monuments being removed by state and local governments, and sometimes by the forceful will of the American people, the fact that 10 U.S. Army installations are named for Confederate officers has weighed on me,” Petraeus wrote.
The amendment would require the Defense Department to set up a commission to develop a plan to implement the renaming, according to the source familiar with the text.
“The president will not be signing legislation that renames America’s forts,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in response to a question from CQ Roll Call. “Fort Bragg, for example, it’s one of the largest military installations. It’s home to tens of thousands of brave American soldiers, and when you think of Fort Bragg, we think of the brave soldiers that deployed from there.”
The effective veto threat sets up a standoff with Capitol Hill, with House Democrats likely to advance similar provisions in that chamber’s defense authorization, especially after the Senate committee action.
Elsewhere in Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has formally requested the removal of 11 Confederate statues from the National Statuary Hall Collection. Nancy Pelosi calls for removal of Confederate statues in Congress.
“While I believe it is imperative that we never forget our history lest we repeat it, I also believe that there is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country,” the speaker wrote in a letter to the leaders of the Joint Committee on the Library, which is overseen by the leadership of the House Administration Committee and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
After President Donald Trump tweeted that his administration “won’t even consider” renaming military bases in the United States named after Confederate officers, House Democrats introduced a bill to do just that. House Democrats Are Pushing To Remove The Names Of Confederate Officers From Military Bases After Trump Defended Them:
Rep. Yvette Clarke will introduce, for a second time, the Honoring Real Patriots Act, which would rename military bases named for “any individual who took up arms against the United States during the American Civil War.” The renewed push comes as Americans protest nationwide against police brutality and systemic racism and as statues commemorating figures with backgrounds linked to slavery and racism have been pulled down around the US and across the globe.
“We are a country with racism in our DNA,” Clarke, who will formally reintroduce the bill on Thursday, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “And while we see it play out today in so many ways, including police brutality against Black people, this is not a new mindset for a country that has a history of shackling up Black people, counting Black people as just three-fifths a person and, to this day, memorializes racist Confederate generals in naming military bases, street names and buildings after them.”
The bill requires the secretary of defense to change the names of the bases no later than a year after the bill’s enactment.
The legislation would impact Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, and Fort Lee in Virginia; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; Fort Polk and Camp Beauregard in Louisiana; Fort Hood in Texas; and Fort Rucker in Alabama.
A similar movement sputtered in 2017 during a push to remove Confederate monuments after the “Unite the Right” rally turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia. At the time, Clarke and Democratic Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velazquez, and Jerry Nadler called for the Army to rename streets inside a New York military base that were named after two generals in the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. When the Army refused, Clarke pushed back with the same legislation she’s reintroducing Thursday.
A pair of senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus introduced legislation on Thursday that would remove the remaining Confederate statues from the Capitol following nationwide protests against police brutality and racial profiling.
The bill from Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) came a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for removing Confederate statues from the Capitol complex.
There are 11 statues of people who served in the Confederacy, either as officials or soldiers, displayed in the Capitol complex. Some, such as Jefferson Davis, who served as president of the Confederate States, are located just steps from the House chamber.
“Americans in all 50 states and millions of people around the world are marching to protest racism and police violence directed at people of color, and yet across the country, Confederate statues and monuments still pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces,” Lee said in a statement. “It is time to tell the truth about what these statues are: hateful symbols that have no place in our society and certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol.”
The statues are all part of the National Statuary Hall collection, which are displayed all over the Capitol complex. Each of the 50 states contributes two statues to the collection, which they can replace if their legislatures and governors approve the change.
The legislation from Lee and Thompson would remove all of the Confederate statues in the collection within 120 days. The statues could either be reclaimed by the states or given to the Smithsonian.
Lee previously introduced the bill in 2017 following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
But the efforts by Lee and other Congressional Black Caucus members at the time ultimately did not lead to removal of the Capitol’s Confederate statues while Republicans still controlled both chambers of Congress.
As I posted earlier, The time has come for a final end to the American Civil War.