Pentagon Will No Longer Allow Confederate Flag To Be Flown Over US Army Bases
The Confederate flag has been effectively banned from US military locations, in a move by the Pentagon to purge ‘divisive symbols’.
The new policy outlines appropriate flags that can be flown on military bases, from the ‘Stars and Stripes’, state-specific emblems and those from allied countries. While not explicitly written, the secessionist banner is not listed and therefore prohibited.
Amid Black Lives Matter protests, the Confederate flag, which represented the fight of southern states that sought to defend slavery during the American Civil War, has been a particular point of contention across the country, with US president Donald Trump defending its use as ‘freedom of speech’.
In a calculated memo announcing the policy to the Pentagon’s leaders, Defence Secretary Mark Esper never used the word ‘Confederate’ nor alluded to the specific moral quandaries of the flag.
However, Esper wrote: ‘Flags are powerful symbols, particularly in the military community for whom flags embody common mission, common histories, and the special, timeless bond of warriors,’ BBC News reports.
He added, quoting former Justice John Paul Stevens, the current US flag ‘is a symbol of freedom, of equal opportunity, of religious tolerance, and of good will for other peoples who share our aspirations’.
While the Confederate flag can be flown in relevant museums, educational displays or in private, ‘the flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols’, Esper added.
However, there’s also a flip-side to the announcement. Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ flags, as per the new rules, also cannot be flown. While Esper noted that the policy ‘will further improve the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the force in defence of our great nation’, others have pointed out the contradiction in banning symbols of both oppression and equality.
Jennifer Dane, the interim executive director of the advocacy group Modern Military Association of America, told The New York Times:
It’s absolutely outrageous that Defense Secretary Mark Esper would ban the Pride flag – the very symbol of inclusion and diversity. In what universe is it OK to turn an opportunity to ban a racist symbol like the Confederate flag into an opportunity to ban the symbol of diversity? This decision sends an alarming message to LGBTQ+ service members, their families, and future recruits.
While other branches of the military, such as the Navy and Marines, have already made moves to strip the Confederate flag, Trump has doubled down. In a recent interview with CBS News, he said he knows ‘people that like the Confederate flag and they’re not thinking about slavery… I just think it’s freedom of speech’.
He also declared that his administration wouldn’t consider renaming 10 Army bases named after Confederate generals, taking to Twitter to explain that ‘our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!’
Condemning the legacy of the Confederacy is a step forward, but equating its flag to ones fighting against against racial prejudice and discrimination is a leap backwards.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]