I’m willing to give Charles Lane credit for defending the decision to change the name of Ft. Bragg to Ft. Liberty but I think he’s wrong to argue that it’s not an example of political correctness. In fact, I can’t think of a more fitting term. This wouldn’t be hard to see if we hadn’t all but ceded the argument that there’s something wrong with political correctness.
Let’s begin with the problem. Here’s how Lane describes it:
For all that, it would be difficult to imagine a less worthy honoree than Fort Liberty’s now former namesake, North Carolina enslaver Braxton Bragg, a West Point graduate who did serve the United States in the Mexican War but later betrayed his country and commanded troops — not very well, by most accounts — for the Confederacy…
…This installation got its original name — Camp Bragg — in the summer of 1918, during the hasty mobilization for World War I, when authorities in Washington thought little of letting Southern White communities attach the names of local Confederate heroes to newly constructed facilities.
The obvious issue is that Braxton Bragg “betrayed his country.” A secondary consideration is that he is broadly believed to have been a shitty general. I don’t think we should honor traitors, obviously, but nor should we honor shitty generals.
But Ft. Bragg is not the only base or piece of military equipment to undergo a name change. The National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 “established a process for removing the Confederate taint from the Civil War winner’s military properties…”
In total, eight military bases qualified. One in Bowling Green, Virginia, was named for Confederate A.P. Hill, who was not a shitty general. It will now be called Ft. Walker in honor of abolitionist Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, “the first woman surgeon in the Civil War, and the only woman awarded the Medal of Honor.”
Maybe some people in Virginia don’t like having a base in their state named after an abolitionist. That’s just too bad, because Virginia was on the losing side of the Civil War. It’s politically incorrect to have military bases there named after losers who fought for the cause of slavery. The same is true in North Carolina, which is why Ft. Bragg will now be known as Ft. Liberty.
It was stupid to allow the South to honor their Confederate heroes on federal property but that mistake has been rectified. And it’s upsetting Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence.
[Gold Star mother, Patti C. Elliott] suggested labeling the base, home to the elite 82nd Airborne Division, after the cause for which her 21-year-old son, Spec. Daniel “Lucas” Elliott, gave his life in Iraq on July 15, 2011: “Liberty.”
Her idea persuaded the special commission that Congress had established to rename the bases, and earlier this month, Fort Bragg officially became Fort Liberty. The base commander, Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, recounted Patti Elliott’s role at a brief ceremony to mark the change.
And yet this outcome is unsatisfactory to Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence, who, in separate speeches to the North Carolina Republican convention on June 9, branded the name change “political correctness” and promised to undo it if elected.
My response is that they’re damn right that it’s politically incorrect to name shit after shitbag traitors. The correct thing to do is to name stuff after people whose example we want to honor and emulate. This all gets decided politically and it’s either done poorly or it’s done well.
There’s no reason to apologize for being correct, nor for having the political power to do things well, so we just have no make sure DeSantis and Pence don’t get a sniff of power.