The U.S. Army under President Barack Obama turned down the suggestion in 2015 of renaming military bases that had been named for Confederate generals.
The idea emerged in the wake of the mass shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which a white supremacist murdered nine black parishioners. In the aftermath, the state government removed the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol, noting its history as a symbol of division.
However, the Obama administration rejected the idea of renaming military bases named for Confederate bases, noting that many of the names had been adopted as symbols of reconciliation between North and South after the brutal Civil War.
As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time:
The Army’s top spokesman, Brig. Gen. Malcolm B. Frost, issued a brief statement in the aftermath of questions about whether the military ought to consider changing the name of bases like Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is named after the man who led the Confederate Army of Tennessee, Gen. Braxton Bragg.
“Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history,” Frost said. “Accordingly, these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies. It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division.”
President Obama chose Fort Bragg as the site for an address welcoming U.S. troops home from their mission in Iraq in 2011.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and nationwide protest and unrest, Democrats have pushed for the renaming of the bases, and some Republicans have indicated an openness to the idea.
However, the present push to rename bases began before Floyd was killed. On Saturday, May 25 — the first day of the Memorial Day weekend — the New York Times published an op-ed titled, “Why Does the U.S. Military Celebrate White Supremacy?”. The subtitle read: “It is time to rename bases for American heroes — not racist traitors.”
A toxic legacy clings to the 10 United States military installations across the South named for Confederate Army officers during the first half of the 20th century, writes the editorial boardhttps://t.co/eRuBGnLOLN
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) May 25, 2020
The article was signed by the editorial board, and accompanied by an illustration of a bullet shaped like a Ku Klux Klan hood.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.