Offering Some Praise For The Pentagon On Flags
I’ve gotten a few letters from readers over the past couple of weeks who have asked me - some more politely and in publishable terms than others - if I have anything nice to say about the Trump administration at all.
So, critics, write down the day. I am about to say something nice. Treasure this moment. Clip this column. Put it on your refrigerator at home.
The Pentagon did the right thing Friday as it announced a new policy effectively banning the display of the Confederate battle flag at military installations around the country.
The decision, announced by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, is admittedly imperfect. It lists the kinds of flag that are permissible - the American flag, the flags of U.S. states and territories as well as Washington D.C, military flags and those of allies. It specifically left out the Confederate flag, which, by inference, is banned.
As Politico notes, the half-a-loaf solution is intended to satisfy military leaders who have been pushing for the change and to avoid irritating President Trump, who continues to insist that flying the banner of racists and traitors who once enslaved 13.4 percent of our current population is a matter of “freedom of speech.”
It’s not freedom of speech. It’s an explicit endorsement of the horror that was visited upon our fellow Americans. The Civil War was fought to preserve slavery. Period.
Now before my southern readers proclaim, “You’re just an ignorant Yankee, you don’t know what you're talking about,” I offer this rebuttal - in the mid-1990s, I lived and worked in North Carolina. I treasure my time there. And all these years later, I still carry traces of my time in the south in my bones.
Don’t believe me?
I still pull over for funeral processions. I still call people older than me who I don’t know “sir” or “ma’am,” until I’m instructed in how they wish to be addressed. I know there’s only one correct answer when a southern woman offers you iced tea - “Yes, ma’am.” And the tea is sweet enough to turn your teeth to dust. None of the unsweetened stuff we drink up north.
And I know there’s only really good kind of barbecue - Lexington. Fight me on it.