Elites versus the public on renaming army bases
According to the Washington Post:
Half of Americans oppose renaming military bases currently named after Confederate generals, while 42 percent support the changes. Once again there is a significant partisan split, with 81 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of independents opposed and 66 percent of Democrats in favor. A majority of Americans ages 50 and older are opposed to any renaming, while a plurality of those under 50 support the change.
Despite the fact that the public leans slightly towards keeping current names, military and political elites (with the notable exception of the President) seem to be fairly unified in favor of renaming.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, told The Wall Street Journal last week that he would not block the effort to rename the bases, and in an interview with a Louisville radio station, he said he didn’t “have any problem” with renaming the bases for “people who didn’t rebel against the country.” He has urged the president not to veto the bill.
“The issue of Army bases being named after Confederate generals is a legitimate concern in the times in which we live,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “I’m OK with a process that the Senate came up with. And there’s a lot of good things in this bill.”
So . . . what gives? Why are Republicans refusing to play the race card here? I can understand why military leaders object to having bases named after traitors, and they also need to create a force that can function effectively in a diverse world. But what about Republican politicians? Is this all being driven by members of Congress in tight races? Is that plausible, given that most Americans oppose renaming?
Because every day an old person dies.
Perhaps the statement by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, calling the Confederacy an “act of treason” is influencing Republican elite opinion.
Similar to the NASCAR decision, sometimes policy makers know when to fold.
I’m guessing that the continued viability
of the GOP ‘southern strategy’ depends
on keeping military bases named for
”heroes of the Confederacy’.
Dixiecrats and the GOP
via @thenation – January 9, 2003
… Many seem to have been under the impression that the 1948 Dixiecrat revolt–the Southern bolt from the Democratic Party in protest of Harry Truman’s civil rights plank–was some spontaneous redneck uprising of rebel-yelling snuff-dippers. Actually, it was quite the opposite, a power play carefully orchestrated by the corporate mandarins of the region (or their lawyers), many of whom answered to parent companies in the North. The racial demagogy they used to achieve the secession was a tried-and-true ploy of those so-called better classes, usually trotted out when the not-so-good classes (poor whites and blacks) were forming an alliance across the color line that threatened the oligarchy of planters and industrialists who had historically ruled the South. This particular white-supremacist tantrum had been brewing since Franklin Roosevelt created the Committee on Fair Employment Practice in 1941, seeking to end race discrimination in wartime defense industries. Truman was proposing to make the FEPC a permanent agency.
The most persistent of the pesky biracial movements bucking the established order was organized labor. Southern bosses had long used racist propaganda and vigilantes to foment strife between black and white workers, with the goal of keeping the unions weak and wages depressed. The aim of those powerful business interests was to roll back the New Deal. Roosevelt had posed many challenges to corporate omnipotence, and the boldest of them was Section 7(a) of the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act, which guaranteed workers the right to organize and bargain collectively. The same representatives of organized money who spearheaded the vicious campaign against Roosevelt became the brain trust of the Dixiecrat Party. That in turn morphed into the segregationist resistance of the civil rights era and is now the Republican Party of what was once the Solid (Democratic) South.
What the racist Southern gentlemen of old and the modern-day Republicans have both cannily appreciated is that poor people do not like to consider themselves poor. Low-income whites would rather identify with the rich folks than with their own class, especially if their partners in poverty happen to be black. That helps explain why, in clinging to its nostalgia for the underdog (“special interests” to the überdogs), the pre-Clinton Democratic Party lost much of its base–the Reagan Democrats–to the rival party. The now Solid Republican South is a tribute to the cleverness of the haves at getting the have-nots to work against their own interests: The main attraction the Republicans hold for the “regular people” who make up the bulk of their Southern constituency is that they are the party of the white man. …
Hey Fred, great article! Better watch out though. Shortly after MLK figured that out then he was assassinated. As long as working people can be divided over race then they can ruled, democracy be damned.
The fact that half of the American public believes in honoring people who tried to destroy the United States is not a good sign for the prospects of meaningful political reform leading to a return to normal governance.
“The fact that half of the American public believes in honoring people who tried to destroy the United States…”
[Were that actually a fact, then I would be concerned. Remember the secession was the response of slave-owners to those who would rather send off slaves to colonies in Africa and the Caribbean, including good ol’ Honest Abe himself until later after the war had begun. Secession would have changed the US, but then so did Civil War. Death defines destruction. Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, although small amounts of it may be converted into energy with a big enough bang.]
We had people that believed that the enslavement of brown people was OK because the sweat of brown slaves was cheaper than the sweat of one’s own people. Opposed to such sweat mongers then we had people that would carelessly impose upon others any such trail of tears that might advance their own economic position. There was no shortage of murderers and thieves in either the North or South. That is what it means to be American. Just ask the natives.
just for the fun of it: the South did not think of itself as committing treason. They thought the Union was voluntary and that anti-slavery sentiment in the North had made it impossible for them to live in the style to which they had become accustomed.
The Southern generals, and the rebel soldiers thought they were defending “their” country against the tyranny of the North.
Whether they were right or wrong, what they honor is heritage as brave and skillful fighters for their rights.
Since most people who volunteer to serve in today’s army come from the South, it may turn out that naming some forts for their heroes is a reasonable concession to reality.
I have to say it’s a concept that has more appeal to me than the idea that because there are people who have been told that if the name of a fort makes them feel bad, they have a right to demand it be changed.
Please note I am an anti-slavery, pro cvil rights, generally pretty far Left supporter of ALL human rights idealist, and I know the “leaders” of the South had intentions far less honorable that what I have described as the motives of those who fought for the South.
What we have here is just more politicians discovering that sowing racial hatred (either way) helps them gain and hold on to power.
Too late to change that.
oh, and i am pretty sure the Founders would feel sick if they thought that we would one day come to believe that “Democracy” means that “the majority” can do whatever it wants.
Lincoln was a human being struggling to solve the problem of slavery.
your comment makes it sound as if he was a cynical racist.
you should learn more.