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Trump rules out renaming military bases honouring Confederate leaders


Davis, from Mississippi, was president of the breakaway states for the duration of the American Civil War.

About 130 kilometres away, in Portsmouth, protesters beheaded and then pulled down four statues that were part of a Confederate monument, according to media outlets.

Efforts to tear one of the statues down began around 8.20pm, but the rope they were using snapped, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

The crowd was frustrated by the local council’s decision to put off moving the monument. The Pilot reported people then started to dismantle the monument one piece at a time as a marching band played in the streets and other protesters danced. A flag tied to the monument was lit on fire and burnt briefly at the base of one of the statues.

Slavery’s legacy continues to haunt race relations in America. In recent history, controversies over symbols of the Confederacy, such as statues of its leaders and its battle flag, have erupted. Those arguing for their removal say they symbolise racism and oppression, while those opposing such action call them signifiers of Southern heritage and pride.

NASCAR, whose races frequently feature fans waving the Confederate battle flag, said on Wednesday it would ban the “stars and bars” flag from its events.

The Confederate flag “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR said.

A crew from the Virginia Department of General Services inspects the base of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue on Monday.

A crew from the Virginia Department of General Services inspects the base of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue on Monday. Credit:AP

Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s lone black driver, called this week for the banishment of the Confederate flag and said there was “no place” for them in the sport.

Wallace asked the stock car series with deep ties to the South to formally distance itself from what for millions is a symbol of slavery and racism.


Former chairman Brian France in 2015 tried to ban the flying of Confederate flags at race tracks, a proposal too broad to enforce and one that angered NASCAR’s core Southern-based fan base.

The move was announced before Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

Wallace was set to drive a Chevrolet with a #BlackLivesMatter paint scheme.

On Capitol Hill, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Congress to immediately take steps to remove from the US Capitol 11 statues representing Confederate leaders and soldiers. Among the statues is one of Confederate military commander Robert E Lee.

“Their statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed,” Pelosi, a Democrat, said in a letter to leaders of a congressional committee in charge of managing the statues on display at the Capitol.


Trump’s announcement via tweet basically slapped down officials open to discussing the renaming of the bases, which has emerged as a potential avenue for racial reconciliation.

In the past few days, officials have said the Department of Defence, including Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, was open to having a bipartisan conversation about renaming the Army bases named for Confederate leaders.

In a series of tweets, Trump argued the bases have become part of a “Great American Heritage”.

“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…,” Trump wrote.

US military bases named for Confederate military leaders are all located in former Confederate states. Many of those states helped elect Trump in 2016, and he is counting on them again for the November 3 election.

In an article published Tuesday in The Atlantic, retired General and former CIA chief David Petraeus called for renaming the bases, pointing out that the men they are named for “committed treason, however much they may have agonised over it” by fighting for the Confederacy.

At a news briefing, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany noted that the HBO Max streaming service had withdrawn the Civil War movie Gone with the Wind and asked: “Where do you draw the line?”

“Should George Washington and Thomas Jefferson be erased from history?” she said of the first and third American presidents, both of whom owned slaves.

She said renaming the bases was “an absolute non-starter for the President.”

Reuters, AP

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