Marine Corps commandant abolishes displays of Confederate battle flag

He says it is a symbol of division.

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U.S. Marine Corps commandant General David H. Berger announced this week in a letter to all Marines that displays of the Confederate battle flag would no longer be tolerated in the Corps.

Said Berger, “I am mindful that many people believe that flag to be a symbol of heritage or regional pride. But I am also mindful of the feelings of pain and rejection of those who inherited the cultural memory and present effects of the scourge of slavery in our country.”

That is quite a political statement from an active duty military commander. His cultural analysis comes very close to PC jargon.

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“We are a warfighting organization, an elite institution of warriors who depend on each other to win the tough battles. Anything that divides us, anything that threatens team cohesion must be addressed head-on. This symbol has shown it has the power to inflame feelings of division. I cannot have that division inside our Corps. We must remove those symbols that have the effect of division and not mere disagreement,” General Berger concluded.

It seems strange that an officer who decries “division” would make a decision that will clearly cause a lot of it.

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Granted, the Confederate flag issue is a touchy and complicated subject. The flag that is mainly displayed is the Confederate battle flag, not the national flag- the stars and bars. As such, many see it, and display it, as an homage to American soldiers fallen in battle. It has an especially strong cultural significance in the South, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, those soldiers were serving a rebellious and seditious regime that supported slavery and that attacked the United States.

The subject is especially daunting for black Americans, as the flag is a symbol of a military system that fought for their thralldom over a hundred and fifty years ago. Thus the general’s attitude and actions are understandable in a purely historical context. But is the Confederate battle flag today the symbol of slavery and sedition it once was? The USMC commandant thinks so. Not all Americans, nor all Marines, agree with him.

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