I’m probably engaging in hyperbole.
I have a question. When you think of Fort Bragg, California, what comes to mind?
The Mendocino coastline? Definitely.
Whale watching? Right there.
Fishing? How can you not think about fishing?
An aristocratic style society with a cotton based economy that desires to break from the United States and continue to institute slavery to maintain social and economic viability?
Not so much unless you’re a state senator from Orinda, California who got done golfing early the other day and decided to write a bill.
SB – 539
8197.(a) On and after January 1, 2017, a name associated with the Confederate States of America shall not be used to name state or local property. If a name associated with the Confederate States of America is used to name state or local public property prior to January 1, 2017, the name shall be changed and any sign associated with the name shall be removed.
(b) For the purpose of this section, “name associated with the Confederate States of America” includes, but is not limited to, the name of an elected leader or a senior military officer of the Confederacy.
Apparently the law would impact, on the surface, two elementary schools (in Long Beach and San Deigo) named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and public buildings in the city of Fort Bragg, the city named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg.
For a second let’s throw out the anachronistic assholery of op-eds and look at the situation from a practical point of view. I’m not pro-Confederacy so you can pause before you sprint to your closet for the cloak of self-righteousness. Both Lee and Braxton have a history within the United States before the Civil War. Braxton’s is much more boring and the city of Fort Bragg was actually named when the man was part of the United States military. Robert E. Lee is one of greatest generals in all of U.S. History, and he didn’t like slavery and only fought for the South because he was from the state of Virginia. In fact Lee was a strong supporter of the union between the North and the South and found his command regrettable but necessary. He was treated with incredible respect by the United States after the war, and was actually given back his citizenship by the United States Congress and President For in the late-1970’s. Robert E. Lee was not Hitler.
It’s not for me to judge whether or not Long Beach or San Diego want to name elementary schools after Robert E. Lee. That’s up to citizens of the respective towns. Nearly every person in U.S. History has skeletons in their closet and if you start looking for angels you’re going to run out of names real quick. If I had a vote on whether or not Lee’s name on a public school is appropriate in California, I’d question the validity but call it fine.
But the Fort Bragg problem represents how a person that has no working knowledge of history can make life irritating by using political overreach. I will guarantee that the people of Fort Bragg don’t see themselves as sympathetic to any Confederate narratives, and that visitors don’t make any connection at all between the former Confederacy and Noyo Harbor’s delicious clam chowder. The State of California already (rightfully) banned the sale of Confederate flags from government offices. Time for the state to stop being stupid and let local constituents figure things out on their own.