Best Defense

Against renaming Army bases — and instead honoring more black heroes

There are 10 Army bases named for Confederate generals. Indeed, most of the Army’s major bases — Bragg, Benning, Hood, Polk, Rucker — fall into that category.

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There are 10 Army bases named for Confederate generals. Indeed, most of the Army’s major bases — Bragg, Benning, Hood, Polk, Rucker — fall into that category.

I am no fan of the Confederacy. Yet I doubt we should go about re-naming bases. The point is not to forget our history but to better understand it. So I think we should keep all those monuments, statues, and bases — but as we go forward, seek to balance them.

So how about naming the next class of Navy combat ships “the Malcolm X class”?

And how about naming a Navy SEAL facility in southern Virginia for the freedom fighter Nat Turner, whose rebellion took place down there? (I write this as someone who may well have had ancestor killed by Turner.)

Other suggestions?

I’d make an exception and re-name places (like state parks) named for Nathan Bedford Forrest and others who participated in the post-war terrorist repression of freed black people by the KKK. (And I write that as someone who seems to have an ancestor associated with Forrest.)

Wikimedia Commons; Herman Hiller/Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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