The war on monuments to slavery continues, but the Lost Cause still has a strong following in Arkansas. Nonetheless, it is time again to consider the Arkansas flag, with its star signifying its time in the Confederacy.
Then-Rep. Charles Blake couldn’t even succeed with legislation to change the language for which the star stood. But let’s try again and let’s get the job done completely, by removal of the star to the fight to preserve slavery.
A change.org petition is underway. The star was added during the height of KKK power and moved to top prominence among four as the South was swept by Jim Crow and worse. Throwing bones to the bigots and slavery defenders of the South was how 10 military reservations came to be named for hapless, loser generals who defended slavery.
Progress IS being made in Bentonville. The county judge and other powers that be (they haven’t been named publicly but if somebody whose name begins with W isn’t helping with the private cost I’ll be surprised) have endorsed a plan to relocate the Confederate soldier statue from the town square to a private park dedicated to the slavery defender who helped pay for it. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, owners of the statue, went along.
Perhaps if somebody would pony up the relocation cost, the UDC in Hot Springs would agree to relocation of their slavery monument from a prominent place downtown. So far, they have been unwilling.
The Arkansas Congressional delegation is still in the Lost Cause camp. Oh, sure, three mealy-mouthed members — Sen. John Boozman, and Reps. Bruce Westerman and French Hill — told the Democrat-Gazette they are open to talking about a proposal to rename military bases named for slavery-defending generals. That’s well short of supporting any name changes, which many members of Congress have found the gumption to support directly.
French Hill was at his pusillanimous best. The statement he gave the D-G, with my emphasis:
“What is needed right now is an honest nationwide conversation about our history, and the role of monuments and statues in learning about our collective past. Removing or fundamentally altering historic monuments does not change our past or make us stronger as a nation, but dialogue will.
“Our historic military bases hold many memories and stories for the thousands of service members who trained and lived there, many of whom probably don’t even know the origins of the bases’ names. The recently announced U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee approach to form a commission to make specific recommendations appears sensible to me. Let’s recognize the past, learn from it, and look to the future together — as one nation.”
A fair reading of that is that he’s happy to hear a lecture about Civil War history and get the topic chewed on while hoping for the current passion to recede, but the money quote is highlighted. Change the names or remove monuments? Hill’s answer looks to me to be “HELL NO!” Should he object, I’ll be happy to correct it.
Reps. Rick Crawford and Steve Womack and Sen. Tom Cotton are flatly opposed to removing the names of slavery defenders from bases where people serve who still labor under oppression that these three have helped foster (end of the Voting Rights Act, anyone?). Old times with these fellows are not to be forgotten. What soldier knows the history of these base names, said Womack, as did Hill. As the New York Times reported, MANY black veterans ARE acutely aware of the history of the men for whom their places of service were named. And the knowledge does not make them happy. “A slap in the face,” said one NCO at Fort Bragg.
But a reminder for the congressmen, in case THEY don’t know about these hallowed names, specifically Bragg, Benning and Hood, all invoked by Rick Crawford. From the Washington Post:
Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the headquarters of the Special Forces, bears the name of Gen. Braxton Bragg, a commander often assailed as one of the most bumbling commanders in the war. Bragg was relieved of command after losing the battle for Chattanooga in 1863, then served as a military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
… Fort Benning in Georgia, the home of Army infantry and airborne training, is named after Brig. Gen. Henry Benning, who led troops at Antietam and Gettysburg. In remarks in 1861 laying out slavery as the reason for secession, Benning warned that abolition would lead to “black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that?”
… Fort Hood in Texas is named after John Bell Hood, who resigned his commission in the U.S. Army to fight against it. His “reckless” command hastened the fall of Atlanta, one historian wrote, and his losses at the Battle of Franklin were so disastrous that they have been called the “Pickett’s Charge of the West,” in reference to a bloody and failed assault named for Maj. Gen. George Pickett, one of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s top commanders at Gettysburg.
Makes you proud, doesn’t it, that three of our congressmen defend continuing honor for the likes of these and the other three can’t bring themselves to say the names should change?
Talk about losers.