Thursday, June 11, 2020

We need to stop naming things after racist traitors

During the lockdown, Kim and I are both working from home. I work in the bedroom while she works down the hall in the living room. We are just about as far apart from each other as you can be in our apartment. This has proven itself to be a godsend. We don’t get as sick of each other as we might if we were in the same room together for the last, uh, 2160 hours we’ve been in lockdown.

This separation is particularly helpful for when I decide to set aside whatever I'm doing for a second, click on the tab with the bonnie blue birdie and enjoy some tweets. As I scroll through my feed I chuckle, then I shake my head in disapproval and then—I assure you that this happens every single time—I get pissed off by something our dear leader, Donald J Trump, has tweeted. 

If it's just a minor offense, like every time he tweets "LAW & ORDER!", which he has done at least 9 times in the last week, I'll mutter something under my breath. Then I'll stand up, look out the window hoping to see a cat that will calm me down. But I never see the cat, I always just see some asshole not wearing a mask or one of my neighbors putting trash into the recycling. Then I'll stew a bit, scream into a pillow and go back to work. If Kim were to witness this cycle in all of its glory she would clearly find out that I'm a madman. And that would be bad.

This is a very long preamble, but believe it or not, I am going somewhere with this Today, the Trump tweet that set me off was this one: "It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a.... (new tweet).... history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations... (new tweet).... Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!."

That's a lot of fucking idiocy to take in. The gists of it is that American have been OK with military bases being named after Confederate generals  for a long time. Now, people seem to finally be coming around to the idea that naming our military bases after traitors might not be the coolest idea.

Let's say you're in charge of naming an Army base. You're going over the resumes of some famous officers, trying to decide which one should be given the honor of having the base named after him (or her) when this "exemplary" resume lands on your desk. 
  1. Graduated fifth in his class at West Point. 
  2. Fought in the Second Seminole War… and by “fought” I mean claimed he was sick from the tropical weather so he would get sent back to Philadelphia. Then they got sick of him there, sent him back to Florida where he was a real asshole as a quartermaster and strict adherent to the rules. How much of an asshole, you ask? Well, his own men allegedly tried to assassinate him twice. He somehow was uninjured both times. Bummer. 
  3. He then served in the Mexcian-American War where he won some acclaim and fought bravely. He became friends with Jefferson Davis while there, which was pretty rare, because this guy really didn’t have friends.
  4. After the war he decided to put his military life behind him to become a humble farmer. And by “humble farmer,” I mean a plantation owner with over 100 slaves working hard so he wouldn't have to lift a muscle. While some historians have gone out of their way to say that he didn’t have a “reputation for being a cruel slave owner,” anybody with common fucking sense knows that there is no such thing as a “caring slave owner.”
  5. The governor of Louisiana appointed this fella in charge of creating a 5,000 man state militia, and even though he was “opposed to secession” he went and did that anyway. Then he showed up with his militia and overthrew a federal arsenal, which must have really been difficult since he was so opposed to secession. Then he became a general in the Confederate Army, despite this great handicap of supposedly believing the Confederacy shouldn't even exist.
  6. At the Battle of Shiloh, he led a corps in a surprise attack against the Union. On the first day, he kept attacking over and over without breaking through, as he became stuck in what would come to be known as the Hornet’s Nest. It took somewhere between eight to 14 charges over seven hours for the Confederates to break the Union line, suffering massive casualties to do so. The next day, he and his men went up against General William Tecumseh Sherman and things went… poorly. After heavy fighting, the Confederates retreated. Not a great victory, eh? Don’t worry, your boy got promoted for his efforts.
  7. This guy got to be in charge of the Army of the Mississippi, which he renamed the Army of Tennessee since they were fighting in Tennessee. Which, I guess makes sense. I digress, he went to Chattanooga to join forces with another Confederate army and eventually fight and attack the Union troops under Gen. Buell. He did not cover himself in glory during this campaign, all of the other Confederate leaders bristled over how he communicated with them and then at the Battle of Perryville, he had the Union on the run. And did absolutely nothing about it. Then he retreated. He got called to Richmond for a tongue lashing from his old pal Jeff Davis, but wasn’t demoted.
  8. At the Battle of Stones River, our dude had a very good first day. A victory, if you will. Then he launched an attack that did little, gave up and retreated. His fellow officers were pissed at how things had gone and criticized him. He responded by writing up a letter that said it was their advice that he withdraw from the battle, but don’t worry, not that many people signed it since so many of them were wounded. No, seriously, this happened. They didn’t sign his bullshit letter because they were recovering from wounds sustained under his shoddy leadership. This is a bad look.
  9. By the time of the Tullahoma campaign, our dude had three commanders under him as his army swelled to over 65,000 men. By now I’m sure you can guess how those commanders felt about our boy—they hated him. I’m going to skip most of the rest of this because all that happened was our boy sat around in Chattanooga, actively avoiding actually fighting until he eventually had to abandon Chattanooga. This is a REALLY bad look.
  10. Chickamauga! An actual victory! Our guy won a battle! But what he’s remembered for here is squandering an opportunity to crush the Army of the Cumberland. They were able to escape as Gen George Thomas’ men became the ‘85 Bears defense of warfare. Thomas was known as The Rock of Chickamauga from there on out. Pretty cool, right? What was the aftermath for our hero? Many of his subordinate generals were irritated at his inability (or lack of desire) to pursue the Union army. So they put together a petition to get rid of him. And Gen James Longstreet said the following about our dear general’s leadership, "nothing but the hand of God can save us or help us as long as we have our present commander." Daaaaaaaaamn.
  11. With the Army of Tennessee on the brink of a full-on mutiny, Jeff Davis came to save the day and relieve our general of duty. Nah, just kidding. They hung out, had some cigars and our guy got to just keep failing up.
  12. With the Union army trapped inside Chattanooga, our general had them besieged. Things might just work out for him. Then the Union army got a new general, a dude who had just finished whooping Confederate ass at a little place called Vicksburg—Hiram Grant. Well, you probably know him as Ulysses S. Grant. I just wanted to throw in the little fact that his first name was Hiram and the S. didn’t stand for anything, it wasn’t even in his name. When he was registered at West Point, a letter of recommendation screwed up his name. Instead of fixing the glitch, Hiram Ulysses Grant just rolled with it and became U.S. Grant. Which was an amazing glimpse of things to come as he would earn the nickname Unconditional Surrender for the way he made Johnny Reb his bitch. Then, when he ran for president he had just about the most convenient initials a politician could ever desire. I’m sorry, I went off on a tangent talking about a general who actually deserves honor.

    At the Battle for Chattanooga, Braxton Bragg, our heretofore nameless general, commander of the Army of Tennessee, had his ass handed to him. He was routed. Shortly thereafter, Grant took some troops and went after Robert E. Lee while his buddy Billy T. Sherman grabbed some troops and went on to make Georgia fucking howl. This would be the end of Bragg’s army career.
  13. Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending. While Bragg was off losing battles, his beloved plantation was confiscated by the Union army and turned into a shelter for freed slaves. After the war, Bragg floated around and had a couple of different jobs. One of these was as superintendent of the New Orleans Waterworks. He held onto it for two years… until he was replaced by a former slave, which is pretty fucking rad if you ask me.
  14. Then, in 1918, an Army camp was named after him. Fast forward 102 years and we're back home.

Now, after reading about Braxton Bragg, I ask you, why the hell would the United States Army name the largest military installation in the world after this bumbling, slave-owning, universally loathed traitor? It makes zero fucking sense. There is nothing to be proud of when you look at the legacy of Bragg. 

Even if you were going to excuse him for being a racist piece of shit and slave owner (which I don’t), and even if you were going to excuse him for being a traitor to the United States (I’m not giving him a pass on this one either), he was a lousy soldier. Shouldn’t we be naming our military bases after men who, oh, I don’t know, were good at their fucking job?!

Although, when you consider everything that I’ve just laid out, it sorta makes sense why Trump would like the guy. They’re actually pretty similar. Racist? Check. Hated by damn near everybody they know? Check. Horribly unsuccessful, yet their privilege lets them keep moving up the ladder? Check. Of course Trump is going to defend him. 

It’s not just Fort Bragg. There’s also Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Benning, Fort Hood, Camp Beauregard, Fort Gordon, Fort Pickett, Fort Polk, Fort Rucker and, of course, Fort Robert E Lee. All 10 of these forts are named after traitors. Traitors who raised arms against the United States. Traitors who are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers. Traitors who turned against their own country so that they would have the right to own human beings. 

Rename all of these forts. There are 10 forts to be renamed and there happens to be 16 African American men who won the Medal of Honor fighting for the Union in the Civil war. It's simple, we just rename the forts after these heroes. That'll really get those racist pricks spinning in their graves, now wouldn't it? Then we find six more posts to rename—I'm sure there's at least one named after Andrew Jackson, that's a freebie—and we'll be good to go.

It's a solution that everyone should be able to live with. And if this bothers you, even in the slightest, why not give up the charade and announce to the world that you're a racist shithead? Just like our president.

TL;DR—Braxton Bragg was a racist traitor who sucked at being a general, the government never should have named shit after him.