Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution: waging war against the United States, or adhering to the enemies of the U.S. by giving them aid or comfort. Treason can be committed only during wartime by an American citizen or resident alien.
The Americans who took up arms against the U.S. in the Civil War, or provided aid and comfort to the Confederacy, were traitors. Traitors should not be honored with U.S. bases named after them. Traitors should not be commemorated with prominently displayed statues, busts, and plaques.
Yes, the conflict was a major event in American history, and the rebels were major players, but statues, busts, and plaques dedicated to traitors are not history and are better relegated to museums. The removal of such items does not alter the history of the Civil War.
No statue honors Benedict Arnold. A successful officer serving under George Washington in the Continental Army, Arnold turned traitor to the American cause, plotting to surrender West Point to the British. Forced to flee to England, Arnold was never fully compensated for his treason and was scorned by the British as a traitor. Washington and other patriot leaders were branded as traitors by the British, but the salient point is this: the Patriots won the Revolutionary War, and the British lost.
The same holds true for the Civil War: the Union won the war, and the Confederacy lost. The time is long overdue to stop honoring Confederate leaders who were guilty of treason.
Ronald H. Koehn, Fulton, Illinois, Ronald Koehn is a retired Fulton High School history and government teacher.