Republican lawmakers refuse, or stay silent on, renaming Fort Hood

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Statues and monuments of Confederate leaders and soldiers are toppling down all over the state of Texas, but the renaming of Fort Hood is complicated by Republican lawmakers, perhaps wary of offending the president.

The momentum of removing relics of the Confederacy is everywhere in the state, except at Ford Hood. The largest military base in Texas, located in Killeen, is named after John Bell Hood, a Kentucky-born general in the Confederacy who oversaw several disastrous campaigns. Private letters from the general show his firm belief in white supremacy.

Last week, President Trump signaled he was not in favor of renaming military bases like Fort Hood. On his Twitter account he wrote, “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 institutions.”

His tweet came just as the GOP-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to rename military bases that are named after Confederate generals.

In Texas, cities and counties are making the decision to remove symbols of the Confederacy. In Tarrant and Denton county, city leaders voted to remove two markers at local courthouses. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the city was going to be relocating multiple statues and monuments. One statue, dedicated to “all the heroes of the South who fought for the Principles of States Rights,” will be gone by Juneteenth.

Protests against police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have continued all around Texas, even in rural parts of the state. Several athletes at the University of Texas have issued a number of demands, including removing statues, renaming buildings, and ceasing the song “Eyes of Texas,” which have ties to segregation and minstrel shows.

Sen. Cornyn, who is not on the Senate Armed Services Committee, appeared to agree with the President regarding keeping the name Fort Hood. When he was asked specifically about ties to a Confederate general, he said, “I am for looking forward, not looking backward.”

Cornyn then appeared to backtrack slightly the next day, saying he did support a commission for studying the issue. Both MJ Hegar and Royce West, the two Democratic run-off Senate candidates, pounced on Cornyn’s stance.

Hegar, an Air Force Veteran responded via Twitter. “We should name our bases after heroes that fought FOR our country.” VoteVets, a super PAC that endorsed her, has been very vocal about changing the names of military bases like Fort Hood.

West, a Black state Senator, appeared with Cornyn at a roundtable about policing in Dallas, and later pushed back forcefully on his non-committal to rename Fort Hood. “This is the kind of logic you would expect from someone whose first foray into the political world was as a vocal supporter of George Wallace for President,” West said.

Rep. John Carter, the congressman who represents most of Fort Hood has not said anything publicly. Gov. Greg Abbott told radio station KXXV that he did not have any stance on the issue. “I’ll leave [to] the U.S. military what they decide to do,” he said.

Sen. Cruz has also not commented on whether or not he is in favor of changing the name of Fort Hood. He did take the time on Twitter to challenge actor Ron Perlman to a hypothetical wrestling match with Rep. Jim Jordan. 

Two high schools named after John Bell Hood were renamed in Odessa and Dallas in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

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