Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has effectively banned the display of Confederate battle flags on U.S. military bases on Friday.
In a memo, Esper said 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 later tweeted: “With this change in policy, we will further improve the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the force in defense of our great nation.”
Politico reported that some military leaders had been pressuring Esper to ban public displays of the Confederate flag, despite opposition from the White House.
Esper met with the secretaries of the military departments and chiefs of the military branches to discuss the subject on Wednesday.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy reportedly pushing Esper “hard” to order a ban on the Confederate flag.
“Anything that is a divisive symbol, we do want to take those out of our installations and keep that sort of thing out of our formation,” McCarthy said on Thursday. “We would have any divisive symbols on a no-fly list, if you will.”
But last month President Donald Trump tweeted his opposition to efforts designed to remove Confederate names from Army bases.
“I know people that like the Confederate flag, and they’re not thinking about slavery,” Trump told CBS News. “I look at NASCAR. You go to NASCAR. You had those flags all over the place. They stopped it. I just think it’s freedom of speech, whether it’s Confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about. It’s freedom of speech.”
Earlier this month, the now retired Mississippi state flag was raised over the Capitol grounds in Jackson one last time on July 1. It was the last state flag carrying the Confederate battle emblem.
In reaction to Esper’s ban, a group called “Arizona For Biden” tweeted: “Good decision by our military but a shame they have to tip toe around a race baiting president in order to do what’s right.”
A lawyer named Kaivan Shroff tweeted: “Crazy this even needed to be said, why would our military fly a traitor’s flag?”
But an opponent named Annette G. H. tweeted: “Have they banned the American Flag yet?”
Another Twitter user named Mr. Waterboat stated: “This seems silly at the bases named after Confederate generals.”
Yet another Tweeter named “Johnny” wrote: “And the American flag flew over slavery far longer than the confederate flag did. Not a supporter of that flag necessarily, just seems like a knee jerk reaction to something that isn’t really even that important.”