Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) on Sunday said that he supports renaming military bases honoring Confederate generals, contradicting President Trump’s tweet last week that he will “not even consider” changing bases.
Lankford’s latest remarks come just a few days after the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to require the Pentagon to rename military bases and equipment with Confederate names, monuments or symbols within three years. The Republican senator of Oklahoma was initially hesitant to throw his support behind renaming the bases when the Senate committee voted on Wednesday, but emphasized the importance of discussing why they were named after Confederate generals to begin with.
“A lot of those statues and monuments were put there to kind of declare, ‘We’re not going to integrate,’” Lankford said, according to the New York Times. “I think we should acknowledge that and, say, ‘No, we are.’ And for those that were digging in during the time of Jim Crow, they need to know that time has passed.”
However, Lankford expressed his support for renaming bases paying tribute to Confederate generals during an interview on ABC on Sunday morning.
When asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopolous about whether it’s time for said bases to be renamed, Lankford replied, “I do, actually.”
“And I think the right way to be able to do this is to be able to look at: where did the name come from, what do we need to have to be able to take a serious look at it, and then to be able to transition,” Lankford said.
Lankford added that “there are lots of great leaders, military leaders” nationwide who “we can continue to be able to honor and continue to be able to put names forward.”
Lankford then sees the naming of military bases “like schools.”
“Every school has a name, and you want those children in that school to be able to learn about the founder of that school or that person that school is named after and to be able to have them as a role model,” Lankford said. “You would have that on a military base as well. So, if you have a military base that is named after someone that actually rebelled against the United States government, then you would want to be able to go back and look at that name. That should be a pretty basic principle.”
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urged the removal of 11 statues representing Confederate figures from the U.S. Capitol as efforts to take down monuments linked to racism grow in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Pelosi’s letter was issued just hours after Trump tweeted that he will “not even consider” changing bases named after Confederate generals, a stark contrast from Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy’s statement last week saying that they are “open to a bipartisan discussion” on renaming the bases.
Watch Lankford’s remarks below:
Republican Sen. James Lankford tells @GStephanopoulos that it’s time to stop naming military bases after Confederate leaders, saying there are “lots of great” modern military leaders that we can honor.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 14, 2020