Rename the 10+ Military Bases Named After Confederate Generals
The White House’s online petition site was a good idea in principle, but it hasn’t amounted to much since the replies to petitions the Administration doesn’t intend to accept have so often turned out to be the usual mealy-mouthed mush you get from a political press office. They have not, in key cases, met the more demanding tests one would apply under the Administrative Procedures Act if an agency were required to respond to public comments. Even so, the whitehouse.gov petition site is still good for symbolic issues, and what could be more symbolic than the names of military bases?
Rename the 10+ Military Bases Named After Confederate Generals
Today we have over 10 US military bases named for generals of the Confederate States of America.
For example, Fort Polk is named after a plantation master of several hundred slaves. Fort Pickett’s namesake was accused of war crimes in executing 22 Union prisoners.
Forts Benning, Bragg, Polk, A.P. Hill, Rucker, Beauregard, Lee, Hood all carry similar tales.
When these bases were built, during the World Wars, it may have made sense to name them after local heroes. Now, with over 20% of our forces African-American why do we insult them by asking them to serve at a base named after defenders of slavery WHO KILLED AMERICAN TROOPS?
Would we have a Goering Air Base or Camp Cornwallis?
There are so many honorable people who upheld our American ideals, can’t we find 10 to honor?
Created: Jul 06, 2013
The petition needs 100,000 signatures in order to force the White House to reply with an explanation as to why it won’t do it. Sign here. I was #34, so there’s a long way to go.
More background at Political Animal, Sign the Petition–Retire General Hood!.
Union generals killed American troops as well.
The Union generals did not participate in leading a rebellion, which is I think they key difference.
They didn’t “lead a rebellion”. They tried to exercise their right of self-determination to break from the Union, a decision backed by their State legislatures as the representatives of the citizens of those States.
The Union, refusing to “get over” the fact that their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, the South, didn’t want to be with them any more, smacked them around until they cried that it was ok, they were willing to stick around, all the while being told by that abusive spouse how much the Union loved them and this was all for their own good.
When you say that “They tried to exercise their right of self-determination to break from the Union, a decision backed by their State legislatures as the representatives of the citizens of those States,” just who do you mean by “they” and what do you mean by “self-determination”? Does it include the slaves? If not, why don’t they count?
The pre-Civil-War Constitution was silent on whether states could leave the Union unilaterally. Perhaps opinions, perhaps even reasonable opinions, might once have differed as to how to read this silence as a matter of Constitutional construction.
But as a matter of morality, it should seem unarguable today that the Southern power structure’s tenacity in holding on to slavery was a moral bad; and as a matter of fact there can be no doubt that it did not reflect the rights or wants of the Americans held in bondage (who were, incidentally, victims of real rather than metaphorical battering, and worse). There is no reason why today we should glorify the leaders of that evil cause — whether you define the evil as rebellion designed to protect slavery, or rebellion pure and simple — and indeed good reason why we should not.
But is it the existence of a moral wrong (even if we all agree) within a State that is the force which precludes secession? If the Southern States had been slave-free, would they have been allowed to leave then?
What if slavery were outlawed in the South in 1860, then the States seceded, then in 1870 or so a new Southern Government had reinstated slavery? Would that have been grounds to rescind secession?
The problem with tying it all to slavery is that it’s a moral position, not a legal one. Slavery, morally corrupt though it was (and remains today in those places it still exists), was legal. We can both agree that it was an abomination, but we shouldn’t be so quick to determine that such precludes Rights which conflict with the rectification of that moral wrong.
Look at that case in NV you cited in another post. You (and I) have no problem saying the police acted out of line, if not completely unconstitutionally. However, all of it was to catch a wife-beater. We all agree THAT’S a bad thing…so should the castle doctrine be suppressed when stopping a bad thing is reasonable? (and please do not raise the obvious straw man argument…I KNOW slavery and wife-beating are not the same thing…)
I have never actually heard a sensible argument against a State’s right to secede that doesn’t include the “yeah…but they had SLAVES!” argument. What is the legal case against secession? Is there one? the Constitution only mentions joining, not leaving. Is joining the Union, in effect, a pact unto death?
I think that’s a far more interesting and original argument than whether slavery was OK. The only places still working THAT out also chose “hand” in the great toilet paper versus hand debate, so I don’t think we need worry about their opinions.
Because it has a long inset quote, I’m going to put my reply to this in a fresh thread.
First, make no mistake that I’m not in any way condoning slavery. I should hope that would be obvious, but just in case there is any lack of clarity on that point…
That said, slavery had existed for literally thousands of years. We don’t look back on Revolutionary War America and ask “did the slaves want to be free of ties to England?”. It’s a little bit unjust to hold the CSA to a different set of morals than the fledgling USA was held to.
So, that said, the body politic, the citizenry, of the breakaway States used the then-normative method for determining the course of action for the government, and decided to walk away from their controlling spouse to the north. In much the same way as white, land-owning, slave-owning males decided to support the Revolutionary War Army, without much consultation of anyone else besides their own opinions.
To boil the entire Civil War down to slavery is obviously the height of naïveté. There were plenty of socio-economic reasons as well, and even Lincoln is known to have been willing to let the South keep their slaves if it would have preserved the Union. Slavery is the “moral high ground” that the victor in this conflict has used so as to ensure that the historical narrative paints them in a good light, but it was really a tiny straw on a camel’s broken back.
Well, to put things at their simplest then, we don’t have any bases named after Thomas Gage or William Howe. We don’t name bases after guys who led troops against us.
(Incidentally, I don’t think it is at all naive to say that the root cause, and the main cause, of the Civil War was slavery (and anti-slavery). Much of the best scholarship I have read says exactly that, and I find it persuasive. )
Who is the “us” in that “against us” sentence?
Because folks in the South would argue that we have quite a lot of bases named after people who fought “us”, where “us” is them.
If the “best scholarship” you can find says that the main cause of the civil war, the root cause, was slavery, then you REALLY need to find better scholarly works to read. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it was by no means the root cause.
On scholarship; I suggest you start with David Brion Davis. I doubt very much you could name a comparable contemporary historian who argues slavery wasn’t the major cause of the war, but I await your suggestions.
On “us”: I mean, of course, those people not in rebellion and their political successors. (My family, mid-20th C immigrants or later, was continents away at the relevant times.)
Vic asks above what is/was the arguments against a state’s right to leave the Union.
President Abraham Lincoln summarized many of the contemporary legal arguments against secession in his Special Message to Congress (July 4, 1861). Here’s part of it:
Well, Lincoln’s words are impressive, as they always are.
But you are hardly going to find an unbiased view of secession from Lincoln! I would think that to be the LAST place to look. (And I would not ask for Mrs. Lincoln’s review of Our American Cousins either.)
But aside from that, this is just lawyer-speak. Seriously. We’re both lawyers and we recognize it (you SHOULD anyway). This is an argument based not on a firm position of truth, but on whatever reasoning comes to mind that fits what is wanted. I’ve read countless brief that read like this. When I do, usually I know I’ve won.
The entire first part of his argument (they weren’t separate before anyway) should have become clearly such to you when he then says that the vote in these States wasn’t a fair one as they were done in military camps (presumably) under military threat. That argument tells you right there that he’s saying, as lawyers usually do, “Your Honor, even if these WERE States prior to entering the Union, which the defence denies, the VOTE to secede was improper.” This is a lawyer throwing everything he’s got at the bench. Impressive, sure, but a winning argument…? Lincoln was a lawyer, as you know, and this reads like a desperate law brief more than any exposition on the law.
I remain without any reasonably unbiased, reasonably scholarly, reason why secession is not available to a State – that also does not give the moral depravity of slavery as a reason.
How about Marshall’s opinion in McCulloch v Md? It sets out a national theory of sovereignty.
Not to beat a dead horse, but Prof. Ilya Somin has an excellent post on the evils of the Confederacy Libertarianism, the Confederacy, and the Civil War Revisited. Not much about the legal issues, but a reminder why it’s military leaders don’t deserve our honors.