Politics of revoking titles of American military bases with Confederate names

Practical Politics

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 7/9/2020, midnight

In the midst of the daily goulash that emanates from the Trump White House, one of the unusual, but symbolically important issues that has arisen is the one on trying to re-name the U.S. military bases currently stuck with the names of former Confederate war officers. 

Several U.S. Congressmen, in the spirit of contemporary challenges to racist tropes in the country, have pledged to do away with those names, while number 45 has repeatedly broadcast his stanch opposition to any such governmental legislation, and has promised to veto any attempt at accomplishing the deed.

The current list of such military bases include:

  1. Camp Beauregard, located next to Pineville, La., and named for Louisiana resident and Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.
  2. Fort Benning, located in the vicinity of Columbus, Ga., and named after Henry L. Benning, a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army.
  3. Fort Bragg located in N.C., named for Confederate General Braxton Bragg.
  4. Fort Gordon located near Grovetown, Ga., and named in honor of John Brown Gordon, who was a major general in the Confederate army.
  5. Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green, Va., and named for Virginian and Confederate Lieutenant General A. P. Hill.
  6. Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, and named after Confederate General John Bell Hood,  infamous for commanding the Texas Brigade during the American Civil War.
  7. Fort Lee located in Prince Georges County, Va., the area with a large well-to-do Black population, named for Confederate General of the Military, Robert E. Lee.
  8. Fort Pickett, located near Blackstone, Va., and named for Confederate General George Pickett.
  9. Fort Polk, located near Leesville, La., and named in honor of the Right Reverend Leonidas Polk, who was an Episcopal Bishop and Confederate General.
  10. Fort Rucker located in Dale County, Ala., and named for Edmund Rucker, a colonel appointed acting brigadier general in November 1864, but whose promotion never got approved by the Confederate Congress.

Various military leaders have said the awarding of those titles came from efforts to try and reconcile with the South, and efforts to convince Southerners to support the U.S. entry into WW II.

Regardless of the reasons, however, many a Black military man assigned to any of these bases was bothered by the unnaturalness of the situation. Many scholars now are confounded on why these names weren’t changed either during the Obama years or other previous presidencies. The general answer is that the issue never came up.

It is virtually certain, however, that the names will be changed this time around, whether through Trump or his successor. Too much attention has currently been put onto the subject for it to ease back into the darkness. The Confederate officers whose names grace U.S. military bases were not heroes to this country. They were treasonous, given the definition of that term as making war against the U.S.  Similar to the many Confederate statues standing tall in American cities, signifying the Lost Cause mentality of southern intellectuals and politicians, it is past time for these relics to be dismantled and stored away in the dark.

They no longer, if they ever did, represent the United States of America. They represent homage to a bogus tradition that should have faded away at Appomattox, Va. in April, 1865.

There are certainly thousands, even millions of heroic members of the U.S. military, including many African-Americans, whose names would better fit those bases.

The time is now.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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