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Trump refuses to rename military bases named after confederate generals

'I don't believe there's systemic racism in the US,' Larry Kudlow, a tope White House aide, told reporters

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 10 June 2020 20:53 BST
Friend of man shoved by police 'horrified' by Trump's tweet

Donald Trump rejected calls to rename US military bases named after confederate generals in the midst of ongoing social unrest after the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

"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," the president tweeted a day after some military leaders said they were open to the idea.

"It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc.," Mr Trump wrote. "These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a......history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom."

Mr Trump, who has been accused of taking a far-right stance in the wake of Mr Floyd's death under the knee of a white police officer, did not mention some black Americans' feelings that such base names conjure hurtful memories of slavery in America.

He summoned the day's press pool at the White House for a late-afternoon event on race relations that was not on his public schedule, but refused to answer questions about his opposition to renaming the bases.

His top press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said her boss "fervently" is against new names for the bases, saying it would be an "insult" to fallen troops to rename the bases.

One reason is because "the last piece" of US soil many fallen American military troops sa before dying in battle was at bases named after confederate generals.

The president's top spokeswoman took a shot at former Vice President Joe Biden, saying he supported pro-segregation figures during America's race-based school busing debates.

"Should we rename the Biden Welcome Centre?" she asked rhetorically before exiting the White House briefing room, referring to a facility along Interstate 95 outside Newark, Delaware named for the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

Her comments came a few hours after one of the president's top economic advisers, Larry Kudlow, rejected the notion of racism being built into the fabric of US society.

"I don't believe there's systemic racism in the US," Mr Kudlow told reporters.

The confederate names rejection and Mr Kudlow's comment came a day after Mr Trump tweeted support for two Buffalo, New York, police officers who face charges after pushing a 75-year-old protester to the ground then walked away as his head bled onto a sidewalk.

"The president believes most of our police officers are good, hardworking people," Ms McEnany said. "They are our best. They are our brightest."

"Stop vilifying our officers," she said. "They're out there. They're working hard. ... We need to recognise that."

The commander in chief's tweet ends a possible move by Congress and his defence secretary, Mark Esper, and Army Secretary, Ryan McCarthy, to rename some bases. Those defence leaders said Tuesday they would be "open to a bi-partisan discussion on the topic."

The president ended any such "discussion" a day later, with Ms McEnany signalling even if lawmakers passed language in the must-pass defence policy bill for 2020, Mr Trump would veto it.

The hubbub comes three months after Marine Corps leaders prohibited all Confederate symbols as part of an effort to weed out white supremacy in the amphibious service's ranks. The Army had previously resisted pressure to follow suit.

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