All the headline news about protests, COVID-19, face masks, and politics this month have overshadowed significant changes that are beginning to happen.
The Confederate Battle Flag has long been a symbol of strong heritage for some while a continual reminder of slavery and an affront to African Americans. I've always wondered why the Confederate flag was not outlawed after the Civil War similar to how Germany outlawed the Nazi Flag. It's an argument that touches on the freedoms granted to Americans by the First Amendment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic there were many people claiming that their First Amendment rights were being violated because they were forced to stay home, they were not allowed their religion, they could not assemble, etc. It took me a while to realize that those rights are only granted to us as long as they do not harm someone else. With all the unknowns about COVID-19 and the fast rate of spread, our right to assemble was nullified because of the potential to harm others.
A virus is something physical. We can see it. We can test for it. We can wittiness the devastation on families, some who lost multiple family members. But what about mental assault?
Even though mental cruelty has been on the books as grounds for divorce since 1940, it has taken many years for mental cruelty to recognized in relationships or even in the workplace. Although there's no physical evidence of the mental cruelty, it is still a form of harm by one person upon another.
Consider, for a moment, that the display of the Confederate flag causes mental harm upon African Americans that have lived in the shadow of white supremacy since the year 1619. The flag is a constant reminder of their ancestral suffering, and it's a symbol with cultural memory that can cause fear or anguish. Isn't that mental cruelty that should be stopped? If the idea of mental cruelty is difficult to understand then replace that phrase with the modern permutation known as "triggering someone."
Similarly, all the military bases, structures, planes, ships, and streets names after Confederate soldiers create division when the US military is supposed to represent a united force to protect American values. How can we ask African Americans to serve at installations named after people who represent oppression and slavery?
For as long as I can remember, proponents of Confederate monuments and the Confederate Battle Flag have always said that these items are part of our American history. At one time I believed that as well because I always assumed that the monuments were erected shortly after the Civil War. With a little research you'll find that the display of the Confederate flag didn't become popular until the civil rights movement of the 1950. White Nationalists and White Supremacists revived the use of the flag in opposition to racial equality. Furthermore, all those monuments that everyone is claiming as history, were also erected as a response to the civil rights movement. I even recently found out that you can trace the appearance of many Confederate monuments to various civil rights protests since the 1950s. When you go back and read the dedication speeches and the plaques at the base of many monuments, you'll find wording such as defending "Anglo Saxon supremacy, " which clearly represents supremacy.
Long and the short of it is that these symbols of history and heritage didn't come from an honest desire to represent said history and heritage. They were blatant in-your-face counter attacks against protests for equal rights. It's now 70 years since these symbols re-emerged in American culture. No one alive remembers these things, and you have to dig through history to realize all of this. Suffice it to say, I've done some digging.
On June 6, 2020, General David H. Berger, commandant of the US Marine Corps, issued an order to discontinue the use of the Confederate Battle Flag at marine installations. The symbol of the flag will also be removed from displays, buildings, naval vessels, hangers, tool and equipment rooms, and anywhere that's not a private living space. Gen. Berger urged the other branches of the military to follow his lead. I didn't see this mentioned in the news, but I found it here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/06/us/marines-confederate-flag-ban.html
On June 10, 2020, Admiral Mike Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, also announced that the Navy would prohibit and remove the Confederate flag. Again, this didn't make the news I followed, but you can read about it here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/navy-ban-confederate-flag-public-displays/
With the beginning of the decline of these symbols of white supremacy it was then suggested that military bases be renamed. On the afternoon of June 10, 2020 Trump tweeted that military bases named after Confederate leaders were part of history, and that his Administration would not even consider it. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1270787974880526337
Little did he know that, hours later, the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee approved a sweeping amendment to strip the names of Confederate generals from bases, building, planes, ships and even streets within three years. Again, I didn't see this in the news.
Then on June 15, 2020, General Robert Abrams, commander of the US forces in Korea, banned the display of the Confederate flag on that large base. He acknowledged that some might view the flag with pride while many others in the forces see it as a painful reminder of hate, bigotry, treason, and devaluation of humanity. Once again, I didn't see this in the news, but you can read about it here: https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/us-forces-korea-bans-display-of-confederate-flag-in-on-base-public-areas-1.633782
It doesn't always take politics to affect change. I applaud these military commanders who are paying attention to the voices of the people they are sworn to protect. They are taking the time to reevaluate a symbol they see every day and really think on the meaning of it. Each one of them acted on their own. In Trump's rally in Oklahoma today he even said how much he is against the removal of this history.
As someone who has fought for equal right my entire adult life, I'm really pleased that these military commanders are implementing change in defiance to the wishes of their Commander-in-Chief. I'm also pleased that Republican Senators are listening to the voices of the people and not their party leader.
Further reading on this topic can be found here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/12/confederate-statues-flags-banned-black-lives-matter-movement-grows/5346701002/
You should also read about the history of the three real Confederate flags here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flags_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America and you'll find out that the Confederacy didn't even use the flag that everyone is fighting over. The flag that was given a rebirth in 1950 was originally the Battle Flag of the Army of Tennessee. The resurgence of this flag was specifically meant to represent white supremacy.
When I formed the Home for Lost Pups I wanted to create a place where all races, religions, experiences, genders of people (pups) would feel welcomed and protected, especially when they feel lost in their lives. Protecting members against anything that might trigger bad emotions is very difficult. Huge arguments have already occurred in the HLP chat when personal passions were flared up. I'm even guilty of lashing out as well as defending others who said something wrong due to their youthful ignorance. The foundations of this organization are still forming.
The last time the Confederate flag was a topic of conversation for the BOR was September 20, 2018 right after the suicide of Mike Hopper (a pup in Texas). At that time I told the BOR that "I will not comment on confederate flags when I see them. I avoid them. This is a 10 foot pole department for me." Since then the mention of the Confederate flag has been mentioned five times.
After doing research on the Confederate Battle Flag, discovering how the Confederate symbolism was reignited in direct opposition to civil rights, I feel educated enough to argue why this flag should be put in a museum and never brandished in public again.
Although HLP has never needed to directly deal with the Confederate flag, I feel the need to establish new rules that will protect our African American members from any mental cruelty. Therefore, I'm establishing the following rules:
1. Conversations in the HLP chat should not include mentions of the Confederate flag unless it is a historical reference or anecdote.
2. Do not post photos of a Confederate flag unless it's also in historical context, and especially do not post a selfie standing in front of a Confederate flag you have in your house.
3. Because HLP is an inclusive group, the Confederate flag is now banned at all of our gatherings, meetings, events, and get-togethers regardless where and how they are held. Your right to show Confederate Pride is not permitted when there is a potential for it to badly trigger other members.
4. Specifics of this ban include: Stickers, decals, pins, bumper stickers, flags of all sizes, clothing, accessories, and makeup. Membership in HLP will not protect you from violating this specific ban.
5. Confederate flag tattoos: Any tattoos must remain covered at all times. If you cannot conceal your Confederate tattoo then you cannot attend any HLP function. Furthermore, if you do have such a tattoo, you are disqualifying yourself from ever serving on the Executive Committee or the Board of Representatives.
HLP will not allow itself to become a harbor for any symbols of white supremacy or for people who claim they can brandish these "symbols of heritage" with flagrant disregard of the how these things harm other members.
Your Founder and HLP Alpha,