Pentagon Bans Confederate Flag, but Not in a Typical Way

New policy lists what flags can be shown at military installations, not which ones can't
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 17, 2020 12:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – 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 AP, was described by officials as a creative way to bar the flag's display without openly contradicting or angering President 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." "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's memo states.

Acceptable flags listed include the US and state banners, flags of allies and partners, the POW/MIA flag, and official military unit flags. Trump has defended the flying of the Confederate flag, saying it's a freedom of speech issue. Per a DoD official, the White House is aware of the new policy. According to Esper's memo, the display of unauthorized flags—such as the Confederate banner carried during the Civil War—is acceptable in museums, historical exhibits, works of art, or other educational programs. The Marine Corps has already banned the Confederate flag. The other three military services were all moving to enact similar bans, but they paused when Esper made it known he wanted a consistent policy across the whole department. Now they'll instead issue this new policy, set to be released Friday, to their troops and employees.

(Read more Confederate flag stories.)

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