The existence of Confederate monuments, statues, and like has been a somewhat national debate for quite some time. For years, city and state leaders throughout the South have fought long and hard to rid our nation of any reminders of a time when equality was not of the same priority that it is today. And slowly but surely, more and more mementos from that time period have been taken out of public view and replaced with something deemed as less divisive.
So it was no surprise when The New York Times editorial board wrote a piece on Memorial Day demanding that Army bases which are named after Confederate leaders be renamed. After all, this is not the first time such a request has been. In fact, as early as February, the Army made a statement announcing that they would not be renaming the ten bases after a similar demand was made.
However, a mere three months later finds the Army and nation in a very different place.
Two days after the Times made their request, Minneapolis, Minnesota resident George Floyd, a black American, died while being held by white police officers. And his death has sparked a national discussion on race, equality, and police reform resulting in riots, looting, and “demonstrations” of protest all over the country.
These demonstrations, which include the defacing and destruction of memorials and monuments nationwide, including the Lincoln Memorial and several Confederate ones, have caused the Army to rethink their decision possibly.
Secretary Ryan McCarthy, according to an Army official and spokesman of McCarthy’s, told Military.com and other outlets, that he would be willing to consider such a change. But only if he gets bipartisan support and cooperation on both the local and congressional levels.
The official said, “We must recognize history is important, but we must come together and have some sort of open discussion about race. This week highlighted the need to start understanding those feelings and the Army secretary is open to considering changing the names of these bases named for Confederate generals.”
Similarly, while not agreeing to rename bases, the Marine Corps has recently announced a ban of all things Confederate on their bases, namely the Confederate flag. According to Commandant General David H. Berger, the flag “has the power to inflame feelings of division.” And he went on to note that “Anything that divides us, anything that threatens team cohesion must be addressed head-on.”
However, President Trump made it clear on Wednesday that he has no intention of allowing the bases to be renamed.
He tweeted, “It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. 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 HEROES on theses Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fables Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”
For President Trump, keeping the names of these bases is not about honoring the Confederacy or the misguided idea that our races are not equal. Instead, it’s about remembering where we came from, realizing how far we have come, and honoring our history.
We can’t just erase our history or act like it didn’t happen just because we don’t agree with the ideals that some of our ancestors believed in. And simply changing the names of these places aren’t going to change deep seeding feelings of racism or hate that unfortunately exist in society.
As White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Wednesday, it is “unacceptable” to say simply partake in the cancel culture that is sweeping over our nation just because of a name.
She reminded the press and the nation that if that is the standard by which we are drawing lines, then names like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, FDR, Lyndon B. Johnson, and even Joe Biden should also be “erased.”
After all, Biden has been called a segregationist on several occasions and not just by conservatives. “Should we then rename the Biden Welcome Center?”