Officials: Pentagon eyes new way to bar Confederate flag

Clever move:

Defence 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 spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing internal deliberations.

Secretary Mark Esper discussed the new plan with senior leaders this week, triggering some bewilderment over the lack of an appetite for a straight-forward ban on divisive symbols. 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 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, gives military leaders what they want, but doesn’t infuriate the commander in chief. That delicate balance has proven difficult and officials said Thursday there was no guarantee that this latest version would make the final cut.

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. Protesters decrying racism have targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities. 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 flying of the Confederate flag, saying it’s a freedom of speech issue.

Source: Officials: Pentagon eyes new way to bar Confederate flag

Emma Teitel’s advice to gropers and the Washington Redskins

On those who feel the need to cling to racist symbols and labels (Confederate flag, Washington Redskins), good piece by Teitel:

But team owners, convinced of their moral superiority, intend to appeal the decision right away. In fact, they maintain, in the words of team president Bruce Allen, “the facts and the law” are on the side of their franchise, which “has proudly used the name Redskins for more than 80 years.” Team owner Dan Snyder, employing the logic of the party-groping apologist above, argues that the Redskins name is complimentary to Native Americans. “The Washington Redskins fan base represents honour, represents respect, represents pride,” he said last year. To illustrate this point, Snyder has pointed repeatedly to Native Americans who are linked, positively, to the team’s history: The franchise was named after William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, its first head coach, who claimed he was of Native American descent. (Some contest his claim.) And Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, a former president of the National Congress of American Indians, helped to develop the Redskins logo.

Snyder’s historical justification for the team’s name, applied to the groping scenario described above, amounts to this: “You may not be happy that I groped your rear end, but I assure you that my grope was a compliment, justified by the long and storied history of groping—one full of women who are reported to have relished the occasional uninvited pinch on the tush.”

It takes a special kind of ethical blind spot to dismiss the feelings of a present-day offended party because someone else, long dead, saw it your way. “Redskins” is, plain and simple, a racist term, as racist as any ethnic slur under the sun. If we wouldn’t celebrate a sports team called the (insert bigoted, derogatory term here), we should not celebrate this one. But it appears that slurs used to denigrate certain groups (see Native Americans) are taken less seriously when white nostalgic pride is at stake.

Snyder and company would do well to follow the lead of the white Texan man who reportedly had his Confederate flag tattoo removed when, in the wake of the Charleston shootings, he saw an elderly black woman grimace at the sight of it.

When faced with the distress the symbol on his arm caused another human being, nostalgic pride seemed suddenly crude and insignificant. This is the reaction of a normal, compassionate person. Worshipping a controversial flag or insignia doesn’t make one automatically bad or bigoted. People make mistakes; nobody is born enlightened. But continuing to worship such a symbol despite the harm it causes others? Clinging to your racist flag or jersey with a passion and intensity most people reserve for their loved ones? That’s more than a little weird. It’s scary.

Emma Teitel’s advice to gropers and the Washington Redskins.