Best Defense

Kind of the point

Why Americans should start naming things for black American heroes.

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I was having an e-mail exchange with a retired Army colonel (color: white, creed: infantry) about re-naming bases that currently honor Confederates. He is, of course, against it, wheeling out the argument that it would be expensive to change road signs.

I mentioned my view that we might keep the names but start naming things for American heroes such as Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass and Bayard Rustin. He responded, “Who is Nat Turner?” And I thought, Well that is the point. White people are too damn ignorant of their own history—which includes that of black freedom fighters.

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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.

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