You might have heard quite a bit about renaming following the Black Lives Matter rallies of 2020. Thanks to their movement for so-called equity, names of our past heroes, even those like George Washington, were deemed tainted and no longer worthy of our remembrance or honor. Statues were pulled down, memorials were defaced, and schools and buildings were renamed.
And in the military, things weren’t much different. In fact, a Congressional panel, known as the Naming Commission, was created with the sole task of considering and deciding on what symbols, names, and such should be removed from the nation’s forts, bases, and military academies.
One would think that groups like the Ku Klux Klan would top the list of things to be immediately removed. However, it would seem that the Commission’s “remit” doesn’t include that.
Several things are being renamed on the grounds of the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point. This includes a building, a road, and a gate, all named after Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Confederate Army in the Civil War.
What is not included is a plaque outside of the academy’s Bartlett Hall Science Center that not only says the name of the infamous hate crime group but also an image depicting their well-known hood and cape, as well as a rifle.
As you can imagine, when reviewing names and such at West Point, the plaque was recommended to the panel for review. However, it would seem that the board can’t actually remove such a thing.
Well, because it “falls outside the remit of the Commission.” According to the creation of the panel, it was tasked with removing Confederate and Civil War-related symbols and names. And the KKK is neither.
Now, the report announcing that they cannot call for the plaque’s removal does admit that there are “clearly ties in the KKK to the Confederacy.” But because the organization is not solely one created for or by the confederacy, the panel feels it goes beyond their authority.
If the plaque is to be removed, the report calls on the Secretary of Defense to take care of it with a “standard disposition requirement for such assets.”
So, for now, the plaque stays.
Meanwhile, an engineering building named in honor of Confederate naval officer Matthew Maury at a US Navy base in Maryland is being renamed, as is another building on the grounds, this one named after Confederate navy leader Buchanan House.
I need to know who, besides those steeped in military history or who might be a Civil War buff, knew who Matthew Maury was before you just read his name above. I certainly didn’t, and I always aced history class. Neither do I remember the name Buchanan House much.
Now, it’s been a while since I was in school, so my memory probably isn’t what it should be.
On the other hand, I remember the KKK quite well, and not for good reasons.
One would think that the panel would be much more concerned with removing names from buildings and such that actually have a bad reputation, as opposed to ones that most people probably don’t even know about. I’m not saying that names like Maury and House aren’t important to remember or know about. Again, I’m just a bad student.
But wouldn’t something as dastardly as the KKK takes precedence? I mean, these guys were actually guilty of lynchings, straight-up murder, etc. House and Maury were just following orders, albeit on the wrong side.
Apparently, none of that matters. Instead, what is important to the panel is whether or not the KKK was strictly tied to the Confederacy and the Civil War. And since its existence spans time frames both before and after that critical period, it doesn’t make the cut.
As the Commission itself says, the recommendations they make are to “affirm West Point’s long tradition of educating future generations of America’s military leaders to represent the best of our national ideals.”
Clearly, names like Robert E Lee do not display our best. As for the KKK…the jury is still out, apparently.