Trump's press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says it would be an 'insult' to rename monuments to slave owners

Joanna Taylor
Thursday 11 June 2020 13:45
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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has defended Trump's refusal to rename any of the US military bases named after Confederate generals who fought to protect slavery during the civil war.

Reading a statement prepared by Trump, McEnany said:

It has been suggested that we should rename as many as ten of our legendary military bases such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas Fort Benning in Georgia and the list goes on. 

The United States of America trained and deployed our heroes here and won two world wars. Therefore, my administration will not even consider renaming of these magnificent and fabled military installations. Our history as the greatest nation in the world will not be tampered with. 

She then went on to defend Trump's statement, saying:

Fort Bragg is known for the heroes from within it that trained there, that deployed from there. It's an insult to say to the men and women who left there, the last thing they saw on American soil before going overseas and in some cases losing their lives, to tell them that what they left was inherently a racist institution because of a name.

Former US army general and CIA director David Petraeus wrote in The Atlantic that it's time to "remove the names of traitors like Benning and Bragg from our country’s most important military installations".

We do not live in a country to which Braxton Bragg, Henry L. Benning, or Robert E. Lee can serve as an inspiration. Acknowledging this fact is imperative.

He was supported by US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Defence Secretary Mark Esper who said they were "open" to a discussion about changing the names.

But Trump may have halted any further progress.

Fort Bragg is the largest military base by population in the world. It was named after Braxton Bragg, a military general who fought on the side of the Confederate army in the US civil war. The Confederates unsuccessfully attempted to defend the ownership of slaves in several southern states.

Bragg was also considered one of the worst generals of the civil war, leading his army into numerous defeats.

Confederate statues and flags have been torn down by Black Lives Matters protesters in the US. A statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis was toppled in Richmond, Virginia, while memorials to the Confederacy were spray-painted. Racing organisation Nascar announced that it was banning Confederate flags from races, despite the sport's popularity in the south. The civil rights group NAAPC have long campaigned for the military bases to change their names.

The final decision does not lie with the president, but with the army, who have refused to comment on the issue.

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