Trump takes a courageous pro-treason stance

Trump opposes renaming US military bases named after Confederate leaders

In contrast, General Petraeus wrote:

“These bases are home to soldiers who swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention. Now, belatedly, is the moment for us to pay such attention.”

A better topic for discussion: I know it’s really impossible to do so, but ignore slavery for a moment and pretend these people fought for some just cause. Even if we forgive that unforgivable sin, we still have to ask, “Why did the US ever have military bases named after men who led troops against the US military?”

33 thoughts on “Trump takes a courageous pro-treason stance

  1. Well, it could be argued that Bragg and “It’s The Bishop” Polk were inadvertently essential for the Union winning the war in the West. Not that our National Moron would know that.
    It’s funny how some really bad Confederate generals had installations named after them while some of the best didn’t. Especially their arguably second best one – the one who said to #1 at Fredericksburg “General Lee, If they put every man they have on this side of the Rappahannock; you give me enough ammunition and I’ll kill every one of them.” But then the Glorious Causers have never had much use for Longstreet. My direct ancestor was in the next batch of troops slated to attack his line when Burnside finally realized enough was enough and called the thing off. Great Great Gramps survived Pope, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, and Grant’s really bad day but almost didn’t survive a campfire joke featuring a supposedly dead shell. Irish regiment.
    Btw, had my Advanced Training at Ft. Lee and was stationed in Korea near Camp Pelham (noted Reb gunner, which made some sense for a divisional artillery post). Basic was at Ft. Ord (Union corps commander). Never heard of a General Presidio (my last post).

  2. The military base nearest and dearest to my heart is Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. I was born at the base hospital in 1968. My grandfather used his political connections as a Bronx bar owner to get my dad stationed there as an MP when he was drafted. My mother told me the story when Dan Quayle’s national guard service became a campaign issue. My grandfather, an Irish immigrant, was close friends with a priest, who was also close friends with Cardinal Cooke, then Archbishop of NY. The Archbishop of NY is in charge of all Catholic army chaplains. My grandfather spoke to the priest, who spoke to the Cardinal, who spoke to the army. It almost backfired and got him killed in a stockade riot. But General Wood was 5 years old when the Civil War ended, so I think it is unlikely he participated in treason.

    As for the bases named after Confederates, I had no idea who they were named after. I don’t have strong opinions either way, but I am disinclined to remove statues of or rename things named after historical figures who do not live up to 21st Century understandings of morality. I think that is taking cancel culture too far. But maybe I am biased because I attended a law school named in part for Robert E. Lee.

    1. The logic you’re expressing could apply to statues of Jefferson and Washington, who basically invented America. They were great trailblazers who have come afoul of 21st century standards, and they were certainly not traitors.

      Robert E Lee is not in that category. He was a traitor in the past as well. He was a traitor when the statue was erected, and he is a traitor now. He didn’t merely betray his country, but actually led armies against American soldiers on American soil, so he was both a traitor and an active enemy. The question is not whether his statues should be torn down, but rather what sickness in America ever caused us to put them up in the first place.

      And, as I pointed out, that logic doesn’t even factor in the fact that he fought for the cause of human enslavement. He would have been a traitor even if his cause had been a worthy one by 21st century standards. The slavery just makes it that much worse.

      1. What makes it especially ironic is that Robert E. Lee actually opposed slavery, and even opposed secession. He fought for the South because he didn’t want to fight against his fellow Virginians.

        On the other hand, several of his fellow Virginians opted not to secede (giving us West Virginia). So he risked fighting against Virginians anyway. And couldn’t he have requesting fighting against Georgia or any number of other militias? Or even, retire from military service?

        1. People back then had strong dual loyalties – Federal and state. Nowadays the only real state loyalty might be to the local Enormous State U team in football or basketball. Lee had the extra pressure pushing toward his state, being from one of the “First Families” of Va. I’ve never thought that accounts of his wrestling with the decision were contrived, even Freeman’s. Ironically, if JE Johnston had never got wounded, Lee might have never had a field command – Davis liked having him in Richmond.
          I wouldn’t have ever named anything, particularly Federal, after any Reb general or soldier but I don’t consider them lowlifes. The Rhetts, Davis, Yancey , Toombs, Ruffin, the Charleston December 1860 Convention organizers, that’s another story. If I’m A. Johnson, maybe I hang a Rhett or two as a message.

        2. Lee did not oppose slavery and was an unrepentant white supremacist. He saw it as a benefit to black people and it never occurred to him that they wouldn’t want to be enslaved. He beat his slaves and separated slave families. During the war when he captured free black people he had them sold back into slavery.

          If slavery was to be ended, Lee thought it should only happen by divine intervention and not man-made law.

          You shitty interpretation of his actions is nothing more than Lost Cause propaganda.

          1. We have two nearly opposite pictures of Robert E. Lee here. Is there any way to determine the truth (which may not be either one)?

          2. I was merely relaying info that I had been taught, none of which is my interpretation, sh*tty or otherwise. I have no problem being proven wrong, but I’m not sure the propaganda charge is warranted (but I should know better by now to expect politeness on this site). In fact, the whole point of my second paragraph was that Lee should have been able to avoid fighting for the South if he really felt that strongly against secession.

          1. @Roger
            Lee’s own words:
            “I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.”

            A charitable interpretation of his words are that because God allows slavery, a good Christian must follow the will of God and use slaves. Especially if their of an inferiour race that needs instruction.

            On the other hand the Quakers opposed slavery also because of Christianity. Seems to me that Lee willingly partook in an immoral institution and used piety as a weak defense for his inhuman actions.

    2. Quite a few of the statutes of Confederate heroes date to the 1920’s. Partly they were a remembrance of a generation that was passing, but they were also meant to send a message to a new generation of black people who did not remember slavery and might be thinking about attempting to exercise their constitutional rights: “Don’t try it.”

    3. My understanding is that in 1860, many people, Robert E. Lee included, saw themselves as citizens of their state first, and of the United States second. Even before I’d ever heard of Washington & Lee University, I had read that Lee had opposed secession and after it occurred been torn by his competing loyalties. In the end, he had felt a superior loyalty to Virginia and felt compelled to defend it. Also, as I understand it, Lee was widely seen as an honorable man by those that knew him, even by officers fighting against him.

      Following his surrender, Lee became president of Washington College in Lexington, VA. One of the first things he did was introduce an honor code. Lie, cheat, or steal and you are expelled. The honor code is completely student run, but it can be seen as somewhat draconian. The year before I started, a law student was expelled because he lied and told a professor he was sick when he asked for an extension on a paper. In reality, as he apparently told a number of people (one of whom reported him to the honor court) he had hooked up with a girl over Fall break. But the honor code is such that for undergraduates there is a 2 week final exam period during which students can take exams whenever they want. In effect, all finals are take home though students are expected not to consult books or notes or exceed time limits unless specifically allowed. In other words, if the test is supposed to be taken over 2 hours, students are expected not to take longer than 2 hours. But they can carry the test around with them for 2 weeks before they take it. The law school is a little different. Students have to choose one of two date and times to take a final. But all exams are unproctored and you are allowed to leave the exam room with your test and take it in any law school classroom.

      The official school history is that Washington College had fallen on hard times and that it was revitalized by Lee, in part thanks to the honor code. In gratitude, after Lee’s death in 1870, the school was renamed Washington & Lee University. Now how much of that was really because of his service to the school and how much was because of admiration for his service to the Confederacy I can’t say. I suspect the latter had a lot more to do with it than the official history will admit. But I would be against any attempt to remove his name from the school. But taking his name off a street on an Army base in Brooklyn? Fine.

      1. From Wikipedia:
        “However, it has been argued that one of Lee’s failings as president of Washington College was an apparent indifference to crimes of violence towards blacks committed by students at the college. Historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor notes that students at Washington College formed their own chapter of the KKK and were known by the local Freedmen’s Bureau to attempt to abduct and rape black schoolgirls from the nearby black schools. There were also at least two attempted lynchings by Washington students during Lee’s tenure. Yet Lee seemed to punish the racial harassment more laxly than he did more trivial offences, or turned a blind eye to it altogether.”

      2. So the great Bobby Lee created an honor code? Bully for him.

        He was the man who swore this oath:

        “I, Robert E Lee, do solemnly swear to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America.”

        You’ll note there is no exception in there based on the whims of the current government of Virginia.

        Apparently he felt that codes of honor only applied to other, lesser men.

        Note also, that he could have avoided taking up arms against Virginia by sitting the war out and not fighting for either side, but he actively chose to kill the boys who had been his students at West Point.

        1. He was great. That was a major problem for the good guys from 1862 through 1865. And Bobby Lee? I think you’re laying it on a bit thick. Some guy named McClellan was known to call him that. (“Here is a paper with which, if I cannot whip Bobby Lee, I will be willing to go home.” Referring to the found Confederate order wrapped around the cigars, four days before Antietam. He went home.)
          Btw, my personal Civil War heroes are Grant and Sherman (both born in Ohio), George Thomas (Virginia), and my great great grandfather – sergeant in a Massachusetts regiment. Sheridan gets points for giving Moltke serious guff to his face during the Franco-Prussian thing (they actually were quite friendly).

        2. Lee did resign from the United States Army prior to taking command of the Army of Northern Virginia. He also gave up his U.S. citizenship. As I understand it, Lee was excepted from the general amnesty President Johnson granted to those who had served in the Confederate Army. But his application for amnesty would have been granted but some of the paperwork was misfiled. He was granted amnesty and had his citizenship retroactively restored by an act of congress signed by Gerald Ford in the 1970’s.

          Lee had some truly repugnant views but compared to many of his peers he was somewhat enlightened. Many of our founding fathers were slave owners, but I would never support taking down the Washington Monument or the Jefferson Memorial. The way things are going there may be a movement to do just that in a few years. Abraham Lincoln is almost universally considered our greatest president. But while he opposed slavery, he said on a number of occasions that he did not consider the negro race to be the equal of the white race. Judged by 1860’s standards he was an enlightened progressive. But judged by 2020 standards he was a literal white supremacist. I don’t mean to denigrate Abraham Lincoln. Maybe he only said those things for the same reason Barack Obama said he opposed same sex marriage in 2008. My point though is you need to judge historical figures as products of the times and places they lived. Granted judged by the time Lee lived he was a literal traitor to the United States. But he was no more a traitor than anyone else that fought for the Confederacy.

          1. “But he was no more a traitor than anyone else that fought for the Confederacy.”

            That statement is 100% correct.

            They all took up arms against the United States of America and became the enemy – the precise definition of treason.

            To be fair, though, while Lee was no more a traitor, he was more dishonorable than most, because not everyone who fought for the Confederacy had taken oaths of loyalty to the USA and its commander-in-chief.

            I have not mentioned anything about Lee’s racial theories, only that he swore an oath of loyalty to the USA and betrayed it. He then proceeded to lead troops against the students he had mentored at West Point.

            Furthermore, he had the option to sit the war out as a civilian, but decided that he preferred to kill his former students.

            So he was a dishonorable man and a traitor.

            The nature of his racial attitudes is not germane to that. Attitudes toward social issues very with time, but treason is treason. You can defend the actions of Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson by making the “standards of their time” arguments, but not Lee or Jeff Davis. Maybe their racism was egregious in their day, maybe not, but they were traitors.

            They were also enemies of the United States of America. That was true in 1861. It was true when the statues were erected. It is true now. We should not have erected statues to the enemies of the United States of America, nor should we name schools after them. To the best of my knowledge, America has erected no statues to Tojo, Osama bin Laden or Erwin Rommel.

            Although the Desert Foxes would be a pretty cool name for the Rommel High School football team in Arizona.

  3. UncleScoopy asked: “Why did the US ever have military bases named after men who led troops against the US military?”

    Because for a long time what people wanted most was to pacify and re-unite the nation, which meant that instead of thinking of the Confederates as traitors, we thought of them as people who fought honorably and bravely for what they thought was right, even though they were wrong. As I understand it, NO Confederate soldier or politician was ever charged with treason, not even Jefferson Davis or the governors or state legislators who passed the secession acts.

    This meant, after the brief period of Reconstruction, the Southerners were treated as equals again, and their soldiers as worthy of respect. Naming bases after Lee and Bragg made Southerners happy, and that was considered a good thing. The feelings of black people, who the South were allowed to oppress with Jim Crow laws, sharecropping, and the Klan, were not considered. Everyone in power (i.e., white people) did their best to ignore them. Even FDR would not support a Federal anti-lynching (LYNCHING!) law, in order to avoid losing Southern support.

    This attitude (among white people) of the more-or-less equality of North and South prevailed for a very long time (as one can see from the video footage of the opening of the Stone Mountain monument in the 1970’s). The Southerners admitted they lost, not that they were wrong to fight for slavery. If anything, they felt they were praiseworthy for standing up and fighting for what they believed in, an attitude that actually gained popularity in the 1960’s.

    All the above is my opinion, based on my experiences. I am not a social historian.

    1. “After Davis was captured in 1865, he was accused of treason and imprisoned at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. He was never tried and was released after two years.”

      1. OK, so Jeff Davis was charged with treason but not tried for it and was swept under the rug in 1867. My bad. BTW, I thought he was held at a fort in the Dry Tortugas, not in Virginia, for most of that time. That is how I learned there was a place called “the Dry Tortugas”. It’s a name that sticks in your head, like the Rodents of Unusual Size.

    2. Roger

      I think you will find this link interesting.

      The historian who wrote the book also has delivered a long lecture on the subject:

      NOTE: It was a Virginia court that indicted him for treason.

  4. Roger I think you need to add one more factor there. Committee chairmen from the South & a tendency to put bases in the South (year round weather). Let the bases be named for a local hero and make them happy and hopefully generous with Federal money. And the South generally could use the “pork”.
    One notable exception on the weather. The installation in the Adirondacks first called Pine Camp, later Fort. Drum. Where my old man spent some time in winter (Scoop, you may snicker here). He also hated snakes so spent some time at Ft. Polk LA (got some great color pictures of coral snakes.) But also had the proudest event of his life – being addressed collectively with some other jr. looies as “slat-assed bastards” (they were taking five in the back of a truck after having secured their objective 2 hrs ahead of schedule) by G.S. Patton himself (this was the famous maneuvers where Patton made his name by capturing the “enemy” commander) . All downhill for him after that.

    1. I used to joke that my dad was the soldier that Patton slapped. In your case it was almost true!

    2. Oh, I quite agree, Bill Deecee. My post is my answer to UncleScoopy’s question based on the way the Civil War was portrayed in school and in stories when I was young. If you read, say, Bruce Catton’s popular histories of the Civil War, both Northern and Southern generals and soldiers are treated as equally honorable. The fact that one side was fighting for slavery did not influence that portrayal, it seems to me.

      BTW, I thought Fort Drum was the “concrete battleship” built in the entrance to Manila Bay. Did the army name a different place Fort Drum after WWII?

      My father served as a code clerk in a Signal Corps battalion attached to Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters, but I don’t think he ever saw the general (whom he pretty much despised, BTW).

  5. There were two Ft. Drums (the one in the Upstate boonies a renaming). Ran out of names?
    Like many Conservative Republicans my old man worshipped the Mac. I never have. Just finished reading Max Hasting’s Retribution. First time I have ever read much about Leyte and Luzon – he doesn’t come off very well. Surrounded himself with asslickers and very bad intelligence people, just like he did later in Korea.
    The Army is the Army. My old man wanted to be in Armor. Since he had been a business trainee with Goodrich before the Draft (he enlisted in 40) he wound up stuck in Ordnance. Made LTC & met my mother in England so some compensation. I had one of the lowest scores of 1969 at Ft. Ord in automotive aptitude so wound up in the Motor Pool doing admin. Had such a mixture of real low and real high test scores they thought I might be fudging something and called me in to talk about it. Actually I was – the “bushbeater aptitude” one – “Do you like camping?”, etc. Which they didn’t figure out. My attitude when I was taking the thing was “How stupid do you people think I am anyway?”

  6. Where MacArthur REALLY comes off badly is in the story of his defense of the Philippines in 1942. Utter disaster, and all his fault, and yet in an incredibly bizarre turn of events, it made him a huge hero in the United States, who could NOT be fired.

    Where MacArthur comes off well is at Inchon in 1950. An immense chance, no one BUT MacArthur could have made it happen, everyone else thought he was nuts but no one had the gall to defy him, and it paid off enormously. Of course, later, MacArthur blew it all at the Yalu, refusing to believe the Chinese would or could intervene effectively. He was a spectacularly mixed human being.

  7. There’s some great irony in all the redneck conservatives who take some sort of rebellious liberty in Confederate flags and statues. Then on voting day their platform is to never question authority and never question the wealthy, but enable them and give them more.

    Then again these people aren’t the sharpest tools in the box, declaring being triggered by Rage Against the Machine’s politics, as if they couldn’t hear a fucking lyric for the past 28 years.

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