In a wide-ranging interview on Sunday with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, Donald Trump has once again refused to entertain the idea of renaming US military forts that currently bear the names of Confederate generals.
The subject came up as Wallace asked Mr Trump if he would veto the National Defense Authorisation Act, the annual legislation that funds military operations.
This year’s bill includes a provision renaming US military bases that are currently named after generals of the Confederacy – that is, men who fought against the Union to protect the institution of slavery. Those bases include Fort Bragg, the US Army’s largest base.
Mr Trump has vocally opposed this renaming on various occasions, and did the same on Sunday, threatening to veto the bill if Congress sends the name change to his desk.
“What are you going to name it, Chris, tell me what you’re going to name it? So there’s a whole thing here. We won two world wars, two world wars, beautiful world wars that were vicious and horrible, and we won them out of Fort Bragg, we won out of all of these forts that now they want to throw those names away…
“We won world wars out of these military bases. No, I’m not going to go changing them.” “So you’ll veto them?” asked Wallace. “I might,” said Mr Trump. “Yeah, I might.”
When Wallace pointed out that the military is in favour of changing the forts’ names, Mr Trump said “I don’t care what the military says” – even as he claimed to have done more for the military in three-and-a-half years than any other president in history.
The interview as a whole has been received badly, with Mr Trump being criticised for his rambling and often self-contradictory answers as well as his insistence that the US is doing a good job tackling the coronavirus, which he once again insisted would eventually “disappear” on its own.
Probing further on the issue of the Confederate legacy, Wallace asked the president if he agreed the Confederate flag was offensive.
The president answered that “it depends what you’re talking about”, drawing an equivalence with Black Lives Matter and casting the flag issue as a question of freedom of speech.
“When people proudly have their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South, they like the South. People right now like the South.”