(CNN) — Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions tussled on Twitter over a congressional proposal to strip Confederate leaders’ names from military assets, with the Democratic senator defending his vote and the man vying to unseat him arguing such a move “betrays the character and decency of every soldier who fought for the South.”
The GOP-led Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this week adopted an amendment to remove Confederate names and symbols from military bases and assets with the support of some Republicans, even as President Donald Trump said he’s opposed to any such effort. Jones voted in support of the proposal.
Sessions, who faces a tough Republican runoff primary election on July 14 for his old Senate seat against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, accused Jones in a string of tweets Friday of a vote that “seeks to erase AL’s & America’s history and thousands of Alabamians for doing what they considered to be their duty at the time.”
Naming the military bases after Confederate soldiers, Sessions said, “was seen as an act of respect and reconciliation towards those who were called to duty by the States,” and “it was not then and is not now an affirmation of slavery.”
“The slavery question had been settled by the war,” he said.
“Delete your account Jeff,” Jones hit back in a Saturday tweet, pointing to the bipartisan vote.
“I know it’s tough for you to be on the right side of history when it comes to the Confederacy, but you should give it a try,” Jones continued.
Sessions doubled down later Saturday, saying, “This insane attempt to erase American history has to end.”
Nationwide, peaceful protests calling for justice and a reckoning with racial inequality have dominated the US in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, prompting many to reconsider the status quo and question the role of Confederate monuments and widespread use of Confederate leaders’ names and symbols.
Army bases across the country have continued to bear the names of Confederate military commanders even amid intense external pressure to rename them. Army installations named after Confederate leaders include Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.
Fort Rucker in Alabama is named for Col. Edmund W. Rucker, an officer who fought for the Confederate army under Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader and early Ku Klux Klan leader.