CNN anchor Jake Tapper lambasted President Donald Trump on Sunday morning for “standing firm” with Confederate generals as Washington begins moving forward with renaming several military bases named after Lost Cause leaders, noting that the president is openly backing “dead, racist losers.”
Amid large nationwide protests over systemic racism and police brutality in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, there has been a renewed effort to remove Confederate monuments and rename government facilities christened with rebel leaders’ names. This includes the Armed Services Committee in the Senate voting to require the Pentagon to strip military bases and equipment of Confederate names, monuments or symbols, something Trump has pushed back on.
“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars,” Trump tweeted last week. “Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”
At the end of Sunday’s broadcast of State of the Union, Tapper pointed out that Trump and his allies have recently taken aim at several distinguished military leaders who have expressed dissatisfaction with his use of armed forces to tamp down protests. The CNN anchor then contrasted those attacks with the president’s praise for the leaders of the Confederacy.
“The president and his supporters have had plenty of nasty things to say about these men who served our country. No need to report them. You have access to Twitter,” Tapper said. “There is one group of generals the president is, however, standing firm with: Dead, racist losers, the Confederate commanders.”
Noting that while the Senate moves forward with renaming the bases as the president “wants to continue to honor them,” the veteran anchor ticked off the racist and sordid history of several of the Confederate generals who currently have bases named for them, such as Braxton Bragg and Henry Bennett.
“Now, the White House cannot defend the fact that a U.S. military base is named after someone believed to have headed the Georgia Klan so they talk about how we won two world wars with soldiers trained on those ten bases. Four of these forts were named in the 1910s, six were named in the 1940s,” Tapper declared. “These bases were not named after the Civil War in an attempt at national reconciliation, they were named in the 20th century as a way of honoring the racist “Lost Cause” that the generals fought.”
“The key word in that phrase—lost,” he continued. “They lost. And rightfully so. Their cause was immoral.”
Responding to the White House's claim that renaming the bases could lead to a slippery slope that would include George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Tapper said that while the two Founding Fathers were indeed slaveowners their careers weren’t built on the right to own slaves.
“But before we talk about where this all ends, it does not take much moral clarity to understand that a good place to start would be for the United States to stop honoring traitors and terrorists,” he concluded.