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Defense Secretary Bans Confederate Flag w/out Mentioning It

Esper wants to simply list the types of flags that may be displayed at military installations without calling it a 'ban'...

UPDATE: After weeks of wrangling, the Pentagon on Friday will ban displays of the Confederate flag on military installations, in a carefully worded policy that doesn’t mention the word ban or that specific flag. The policy, laid out in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, was described by officials as a creative way to bar the flag’s display without openly contradicting or angering President Donald Trump, who has defended people’s rights to display it. 

Signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday night, the memo lists the types of flags that may be displayed at military installations. The Confederate flag is not among them — thus barring its display without singling it out in a “ban.” Details of the policy, which is expected to be released Friday, were first reported by the AP.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: (Headline USA) Defense leaders, who for weeks have been tied in knots over the incendiary issue of banning the Confederate flag, are weighing a new policy that would bar its display at department facilities without actually mentioning its name, several U.S. officials said Thursday.

No final decisions have been made, but officials said the new plan presents a creative way to ban the Confederate flag in a manner that may not raise the ire of President Donald Trump, who has defended people’s rights to display it. The officials, of unknown authority, allegedly spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing internal deliberations.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper discussed the new plan with senior leaders this week.

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The Marine Corp has already banned the Confederate flag saying it can inflame division and weaken unit cohesion. Military commands in South Korea and Japan quickly followed suit and the other three military services were all moving to do the same when they were stopped by Esper, who wanted a more uniform, consistent policy across the whole department.

An early version of the Defense Department plan banned display of the Confederate flag, saying the prohibition would preserve “the morale of our personnel, good order and discipline within the military ranks and unit cohesion.”

That policy was never finalized, and a new version floating around the Pentagon this week takes a different tack, simply listing the types of flags that may be displayed at military installations. The Confederate flag is not among them – thus barring its display without singling it out in a “ban.” 

Acceptable flags would include the U.S. and state banners and the widely displayed POW/MIA flag. Official military division and unit flags are also likely to be allowed. 

The move is an attempt at finding compromise, as Esper tries to enact a ban that passes legal muster and gives military leaders what they want.

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An apparent sticking point is whether the military services will be allowed to develop their own more stringent policies on what they consider to be divisive symbols, and whether the policy will state that or leave it unsaid.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters on Thursday that he is still working on a policy that would remove all divisive symbols from Army installations.

He specifically didn’t mention the flag, but said, “we would have any divisive symbols on a no-fly list.”

Confederate flags, monuments and military base names have become a national flashpoint in the weeks since the death of George Floyd. Rioters decrying racism have targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities, as well as memorials of historical figures that had nothing to do with defending slavery. Some state officials are considering taking them down, but they face vehement opposition in some areas.

Trump has flatly rejected any notion of changing base names, and has defended the personal flying of the Confederate flag, saying it’s a freedom of speech issue.

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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