Figures on the political Left and the media are now calling for the removal of all Confederate monuments in response to the violence and deaths in Charlottesville, Virginia. But the demand is not limited to statues.
As reported by The Hill, Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY), has now announced she is introducing a bill that would force the Department of Defense to rename military bases and properties currently named after Confederate generals and soldiers.
Clarke asserts her bill would reduce violence and racial strife by removing symbols of “white supremacy” that attract rioters. For Clarke, individuals who wish to keep Confederate monuments in place are the ones perpetuating violence.
In a statement to the press, Clarke said: “The time has come for the Army to remove from Fort Hamilton and other military installations the disgraced names of men who waged war against the United States to preserve the evil institution of slavery.”
She went on to call Confederate monuments a “pretext” for violence.” As recent events in Charlottesville have made perfectly clear, these monuments are nothing more than symbols of white supremacy and a pretext for the violent imposition of an evil ideology that should never have persisted into the Twenty-First Century,” Clarke opined.
According to CBS News, Clarke and three other New York Democrats previously petitioned the US Army to change the names of two streets on a base in the state of New York. The Army denied the request to rename General Lee Avenue and General Jackson Drive, which run through Fort Hamilton and are not accessible to the public.
Major-General Malcolm Frost, a spokesman for the Army, explained why Clarke’s petition was rejected. Army policy is to use the names of famous soldiers or generals. “Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history.”
Frost also said that the use of historical names is not an endorsement of those individuals’ personal ideologies.” 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,” he said.
Clarke’s bill would bypass the Army and other military branches, effectively coercing the Armed Forces to her ideological viewpoint, and ending a tradition that has been in place for over a century. Given the events in Charlottesville and the hostile feelings it has created, it is possible that Clarke’s proposed law would have support from both sides of the aisle in principle-depleted Congress.
Among the most notable critics of President Trump in the wake of the Charlottesville incident have been members of his own party. As reported by CNN, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a constant critic of the President, attacked Trump for making a “moral equivalency” between the white supremacists and Antifa–whom McCain described as “Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry.” Antifa has been designated a domestic terror group by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security.
Other prominent Republicans to speak out against Trump include Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham accused Trump of taking “a step backward” in race relations.
Despite this criticism, the Trump base of voters has remained supportive of the President’s remarks. But with such bipartisan condemnation of the President among sitting politicians, it is unclear what fate Confederate monuments face.