I have to disagree with D.J. Tice about Fort Bragg and other military installations that are named for Confederate generals (“With malice toward all, with charity for none,” column, June 21). I do not approve of destroying statues, but as a matter of recognizing history, they should be removed from public places and moved to the Smithsonian or perhaps a local museum.
Gen. Braxton Bragg, in particular, is regarded as one of the worst of the Confederate generals. Perhaps we can keep Tice happy by forgiving and forgetting. Very well, I can forgive Gen. Bragg, and in the interest of forgetting him, let’s rename Fort Bragg. Suppose, as Tice suggests, we choose a superbly accomplished military leader and field tactician who opposed the U.S. in war, such as Erwin Rommel, the German “Desert Fox.” Fort Rommel. Bad idea? Yup, I think so too.
David M. Perlman, New Hope
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Tice rightfully worries about a world that inverts Lincoln’s heartfelt wish of malice toward none and charity for all. Yet, his commentary on the Dakota War of 1862 airbrushes the malice in the U.S. policy of starving innocent natives by withholding compensation for their treaty lands.
And, Tice’s American exceptionalism is showing. At 655,000 dead, “one of humanity’s bloodiest civil wars” (our own) pales before the body count of dozens of wars we’ve engineered abroad, a CIA specialty for 70 years. Consider Indonesia in 1965, from Vincent Bevins’ book, “The Jakarta Method:”
“CIA analysts … prepared lists with the names of thousands of communists and suspected communists, and handed them over to the Army, so that these people could be murdered and ‘checked off’ the list … . [I]t is estimated that between five hundred thousand and one million people were slaughtered … . [T]his was at least the third time in history that US officials had supplied lists of communists and alleged communists to allies, so that they could round them up and kill them. The first was in Guatemala in 1954, the second was in Iraq in 1963.”
Toppling statues and renaming forts are distractions. Unilaterally nixing the JPCOA with Iran and reimposing economic sanctions that will kill Iranian children is malice personified.
No surprise that America got a loser like Trump, who has prospered by abrogating contracts with an impunity born of economic power.
And, no surprise that unrelenting U.S. malice has failed to beget much charity.
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
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It is reasonable to point out that the naming of federal military installations for Confederate generals was a gesture at sectional reconciliation. There is something to be said for that, in the aftermath of a catastrophic Civil War.
However, historians have nearly universally concluded that this strategy also required throwing the victims of racism under the bus. The cost of white reconciliation was to downplay slavery as a cause of the war, and to overlook the overthrow of Reconstruction’s brief attempt to grant the freedpeople equal rights. Northern veterans understood this, and many of the generation that defeated the rebellion bristled at this national backsliding. Reconciliation after a war is a good thing, but perhaps not at the expense of forgetting why that war was fought.
Tice also bristles at the talk about naming military installations after losers. That is another reasonable point, the Confederates certainly fought hard and with skill for their cause, demeaning their sacrifice seems ungracious. But several of the Confederate generals honored by major military installations were, like Bragg, inept. John Bell Hood lost Atlanta through costly counterattacks against a much larger army, then ruined half his army during the catastrophic Nashville offensive. He, too, retired in disgrace.
The Civil War was lost in the then-west, and it is truly strange to name bases for incompetent Confederate generals, however brave or committed.
Unless the nation is honoring them for their role in Confederate defeat. If that is the intent, it makes sense.
Michael W. Fitzgerald, Northfield
The writer is a professor of history at St. Olaf College.
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I agree with the tweet (to which Tice referred) by retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page regarding military bases named after loser confederate generals. My suggestion for Fort Bragg would be Fort McCain. A real American hero.
Bruno Gad, Mankato
Some things have changed and others haven’t, but there’s hope
Bravo, Lori Sturdevant! Her column regarding the fight for racial equity (“Why did the spark catch here, now?” Opinion Exchange, June 21) was a gift.
She explores the history of changes in racial diversity in Minnesota. In 1960, people of color comprised 1.2% of the population, grew in size to 6% by 1990, and are estimated at 20.4% today. Sadly, the racial gaps in household income, educational attainment, homeownership and life expectancy for nonwhites has not changed.
Now, after the inhumane death of George Floyd, the presence of the large group of the millennial generation, together with the boomer generation, is making urgent demands for remedies to injustice.
I am grateful for Sturdevant’s article, her wise use of information provided by state demographers, and her clarity in writing.
May the young adults prevail! Hopefully, they stand with and on the shoulders of other generations of Americans/Minnesotans who care.
Judith Dahill, Minnetonka
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I live in Minneapolis. In the early evenings, I can often be found on my front stoop, watching the world go by. On a recent evening, I saw four young teen boys riding their bikes. Laughing and talking as they pedaled. Two were black and two were white. All four clearly friends. Then a father rode past with two children speaking a language I didn’t recognize. Moments later a mother with a stroller and a child on a scooter speaking Spanish. I found it as a sprout of optimism, all from my front door.
Justin Felicetta, Minneapolis
Young people, perhaps it should go like this: no mask, no inheritance
Thank you, Steve Sack, for another timely COVID-19 cartoon (“Don’t tread on me” vs. “Don’t spread on me,” June 21). Also, thank you, Lee Schafer, for your intelligent column “The Spartan argument for wearing a face mask” (June 18).
I can relate to both.
On June 18, my sister, age 78, and I, age 72, drove to Albany, Minn., for a five-mile hike on the Lake Wobegon Trail. We donned masks because so many people were using the trail and because we are older adults at greater risk for COVID-19.
After walking about a mile, we encountered a bicyclist, age 30 or so, who mocked us for wearing masks. “You’d better not go to the Albany bank or they’ll think it’s a hold-up,” he yelled. He and his bicycling buddy thought this was so humorous.
According to the June 18 weekly COVID-19 report from the Minnesota Department of Health, 263 of 1,542 Minnesotans (17%) in the 70-79 age group who contracted the virus died from it. For older age groups, the statistics are even more grim: 459 deaths from 1,465 COVID-19 cases (31%) in the 80-89 age group, 349 of 803 (43%) in the 90-99 age group, and 26 of 45 (58%) in the 100-plus age group.
When we wear masks, we at least give ourselves and others near us a fighting chance against the virus. In fact, hypothetical models used in an Arizona State study in April concluded that with nearly universal (80%) adoption of “moderately effective” masks, 17 to 45% of COVID-19 deaths over two months could have been prevented in New York and 24 to 65% of deaths over the same period in Washington state.
So why wouldn’t all of us be amenable to wearing masks? I can only conclude that a great percentage of people do not care if older people die from this disease. Could it be that the anti-mask crowd wants us to die in order to inherit money sooner rather than later?
If so, I suggest that we older people specify in our wills that family members who do not wear masks in risky settings (stores, large public gatherings) be removed from inheritance. If no heirs wear masks, let’s bury our money in our caskets or have it cremated with us.
Sylvia Lang, Golden Valley