In this new post at The Atlantic, the former 4-Star General and Director of Central Intelligence forcefully gives his support to renaming those US military bases named for traitors to the United State. Posted at 6:15 this morning EDT, the sub-title of the piece puts it bluntly:
It is time to remove the names of traitors like Benning and Bragg from our country’s most important military bases.
After a first paragraph, in which Petraeus talks about his three times being based at Fort Bragg, names for Confederate General Braxton Bragg, he offers this paragraph to set the tone of the piece:
The United States is now wrestling with repeated instances of abusive policing caught on camera, the legacies of systemic racism, the challenges of protecting freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights while thwarting criminals who seek to exploit lawful protests, and debates over symbols glorifying those who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. The way we resolve these issues will define our national identity for this century and beyond. Yesterday afternoon, an Army spokesperson said that Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy is now “open to a bipartisan discussion” on renaming the bases. That’s the right call. Once the names of these bases are stripped of the obscuring power of tradition and folklore, renaming the installations becomes an easy, even obvious, decision.
define our national identity
That is part of what is happening right now with these national protests. And yes, I know, Trump will resist what Secretary McCarthy said, not even being interested in such a discussion an almost certainly attempting via Twitter to make this a wedge issue to motivate his “base.”
Besides Braxton Bragg, Petraeus notes that also served military installations named for Pickett, Post, Jackson, Lee, Hood, Rucker, Gordon, and Benning. That is 8 US Army and Guard installations named for Confederate Generals. And of the last, Henry Benning, Petraeus writes
At the time, I was oblivious to the fact that what was then called the “Home of the Infantry” was named for Henry L. Benning, a Confederate general who was such an enthusiast for slavery that as early as 1849 he argued for the dissolution of the Union and the formation of a Southern slavocracy. Fort Benning’s physical location, on former Native American territory that became the site of a plantation, itself illustrates the turbulent layers beneath the American landscape