The New York Times editorial board painted the U.S. military with the broad brush of racism on Memorial Day weekend in an editorial demanding the armed forces rename any facility that bears the name of a Confederate officer.
“Military installations that celebrate white supremacist traitors have loomed steadily larger in the civic landscape since the country began closing smaller bases and consolidating its forces on larger ones,” The Times said Saturday.
“Bases named for men who sought to destroy the Union in the name of racial injustice are an insult to the ideals servicemen and women are sworn to uphold — and an embarrassing artifact of the time when the military itself embraced anti-American values. It is long past time for those bases to be renamed,” the editorial board said.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman fired back on Twitter.
“On a solemn day for remembering those that have given their lives for our country fighting against tyranny and subjugation, the NYT has more than a million possible stories of the ultimate sacrifice by American patriots that they could tell. But they don’t,” he tweeted Sunday.
“Instead they chose to attack the US military – the most diverse meritocracy in the country and the most powerful force for good in world history,” Hoffman said. “We have many stories of valor still waiting to be told this Memorial Day weekend.”
Instead they chose to attack the US military – the most diverse meritocracy in the country and the most powerful force for good in world history. We have many stories of valor still waiting to be told this Memorial Day weekend.
— Jonathan Hoffman (@ChiefPentSpox) May 24, 2020
Others also waded into the debate.
More than 1.1 million Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Yet, the @nytimes decided not to share their stories this Memorial Day.
Instead, the paper decided to do a disgusting fake news hit piece on our nation’s military. https://t.co/cbZ23lHruY
— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) May 25, 2020
I have had 2 friends KIA & it was by the grace of God my husband was not killed when he was shot down range.
The military does NOT celebrate white supremacy & the fact the @nytimes would write this is disgusting.
— Anna Paulina Luna (@realannapaulina) May 24, 2020
In case you needed another reason to be disgusted with @nytimes – this is their paper’s piece the day before we celebrate the sacrifice of almost 1 million service members- NY Times on #MemorialDay Weekend: US Military celebrates white supremacism https://t.co/VTq0BPbN4Z #FoxNews
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) May 24, 2020
The Times headlined its editorial, “Why Does the U.S. Military Celebrate White Supremacy?” and linked the names of Confederate generals to the actions of Dylan Roof, who in 2015 killed black worshippers at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.
The editorial board said the “toxic legacy” of the Confederacy and what it proclaimed as links between the Confederate flag, white supremacy and Nazism “clings to the 10 United States military installations across the South that were named for Confederate Army officers during the first half of the 20th century.”
The Times then attacked Gen. George Pickett, whose famous charge at Gettysburg has made him a legend and for whom Fort Pickett in Virginia is named; Gen. Henry Benning, for whom Fort Benning in Georgia is named; Gen. John Gordon of Georgia, for whom Georgia’s Fort Gordon is named; and former Gen. Braxton Bragg, for whom Fort Bragg in North Carolina is named.
The editorial board said that in looking at the Confederacy and its aftermath, “Adolf Hitler himself took notice, praising the United States as the near epitome of the racist state.”
“The federal government embraced pillars of the white supremacist movement when it named military bases in the South,” The Times said.
It said that the men for whom the forts are named “were traitors. These rebel officers, who were willing to destroy the United States to keep black people in chains, are synonymous with the racist ideology that drove them to treason.”
“[T]he base names were agreed upon as part of broader accommodation in which the military embraced stringent segregation so as not to offend Southerners by treating African-Americans as equals. The names represent not only oppression before and during the Civil War, but also state-sponsored bigotry after it,” the editorial said.
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