The debate on the political correctness of the Confederate battle flag has been heavily debated between groups of all people for years. Supporters of the Confederate battle flag use the argument “heritage not hate” and claim the flag is a representation of southern pride and heritage. Although this may be true, the flags association with slavery, Jim Crow laws, as well as the violent resistance to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s are often forgotten. Some organizations even state the flag stands for racism and is a common symbol used as a symbol of white supremacy for many groups and individuals.
More recently, the massacre of nine African Americans at the “Mother Emanuel” church in Charleston, South Carolina in which photos surfaced of the 21-year-old supremacist posing with the flag in one hand and a gun in the other. In 2016, the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia took place. At this rally, protestors were seen and heard shouting racist slogans, carrying the Confederate battle flag; a young counter-protestor was killed during this protest.
On June 5th, 2020; the United States Marine Corps was ordered to remove all public displays of the Confederate Flag. This decision was made in light of the growing aversion to the symbol and its historical meaning; citing the 2017 rally.
Effective immediately, the order states “[t]he Marine Corps shall remove the Confederate battle flag from all installation public spaces and work areas in order to support our core values, ensure unit cohesion and security, and preserve good order and discipline.” This means any and all depictions of the flag will be removed from public and private workspaces on military installations. Private depictions include, but are not limited to, items such as; t-shirts, mugs, stickers, posters, etc. However, living quarters, private vehicles, and individual barracks will not be inspected to ensure members are abiding by this order.
In a message released on June 3, the commandant of the Marine Corps, General David H. Berge stated “[c]urrent events are a stark reminder that it is not enough for us to remove symbols that cause division — rather, we must also strive to eliminate division itself. The trust Marines place in one another on a daily basis demands this. Only as a unified force, free from discrimination, racial inequality, and prejudice can we fully demonstrate our core values, and serve as the elite warfighting organization America requires and expects us to be.”
The order effectively directs Marine Commanders to move forward with issuing lawful orders to remove the flag, however, there is no official date in which the removal of the flag and the depictions should be removed, nor does it include any possible consequences of not abiding by this order.
Exclusions to the order include; displays that are for educational and/or historical purposes, state flags that have some incorporation of the Confederate flag, as well as gravesites of Confederate soldiers. Unit commanders are being encouraged to consult their staff members when dealing with “questionable situations” surrounding depictions of the flag.
Exclusions to this order include displays that are educational and/or historical, state flags that have some incorporation of the flag, as well as gravesites of Confederate soldiers.