by Leander Milbrecht
For some it is a step backwards, for others a blow against Trump: Because he wants to continue to see the flag of the Confederate Party on military bases, the Pentagon has now unceremoniously banned all “divisive symbols” – but that includes the rainbow flag. Queer organizations and politicians, including Pete Buttigieg, expressed their disapproval of this.
The new directive stipulates that only the flags of the USA and its states, territories and allies may be raised on US military bases and all buildings on US Pentagon premises. The Washington Blade confirmed last Friday that this also excludes the queer Pride flag. This met with considerable resistance from queer organizations and human rights activists in the USA.
The regulation appears to be a compromise: it comes after weeks of debates in the middle of which the President of the USA was in the middle. In the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and continuing protests against racism and police brutality, calls for a ban on the confederation flag have become increasingly loud.
Donald Trump defended the Confederate flag under the guise of freedom of speech and opinion. He never tired of calling it part of the “heritage” of the USA. The Confederacy referred to the southern US states that fought to maintain slavery during the US Civil War. The new directive bypasses the discussion by banning all “divisive symbols” on US military bases.
Rainbow flag = splitting symbol?
The guideline is deliberately kept open to circumvent Trump’s objections and prevent the White House from being able to stop the new rules based on freedom of speech. Therefore, no specific flags are mentioned in it and the word ‘ban’ does not appear in it either. It is obvious: The Pentagon is trying an almost impossible balancing act – at the expense of the queer community?
Lisa Lawrence, the Pentagon spokeswoman, confirmed that it is correct that the directive also applies to the Pride flag. The memorandum does not allow the public display of unlisted flags in the Department of Defense, Lawrence said.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed the guideline on Thursday and published it by memo on Friday. In the memo, the politician said they must always focus on what they have a Their sworn oath to the Constitution and the common duty to defend the nation. He also speaks of symbols that would “divide the nation”:
“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.”
“An alarming message.”
Queer human rights organisations expressed their disapproval of the directive. Among them was the Modern Military Association of America (MMAA), which cares for queer soldiers and veterans. The organization called on the Pentagon to reconsider this step immediately. Jennifer Dane, interim executive director of the MMAA, said Friday that it was absolutely outrageous that Mark Esper wanted to ban the Pride flag, an elementary symbol of inclusion and diversity, allegedly because it divides the nation.
“In what universe is it OK to turn an opportunity to ban a racist symbol like the Confederate flag into an opportunity to ban the symbol of diversity? This decision sends an alarming message to LGBTQ service members, their families and future recruits.”
Also, openly gay Democrat Pete Buttigieg, who this year withdrew from the race for the Trumps challenger position (we reported), expressed his strong opposition to the new regulation in social media. He talked about his own past in the military:
- 48374613857_59a0756432_c: By: The White House / CC0
- 48701695602_243bd04eb8_k: By: Chuck Kennedy
- 1079px-Rainbow_Flag_and_American_Flag_-_Gay_Pride_(28219386627): By: Tony Webster / CC BY 2.0 / wikimedia.org
A ridiculous amount of coffee was consumed in the process of building this project. Add some fuel if you'd like to keep us going!