U.S. troops in South Korea have been barred from displaying the Confederate flag on bases or bumper stickers in the latest move by the military to prevent racial division in the force.
In a Twitter post Monday, Army Gen. Robert B. “Abe” Abrams, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, said the Confederate battle flag “has the power to inflame racial division. We cannot have that division among us.”
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Effective immediately, he stated, “The Confederate Battle Flag or its depiction within USFK installation workplaces, common-access areas, public areas, building exteriors, personal clothing or vehicle bumper stickers is NOT authorized.
“The Confederate Battle Flag does not represent the values of U.S. forces assigned to serve in the Republic of Korea,” he added. “While I acknowledge some might view it as a symbol of regional pride, many others in our force see it as a painful reminder of hate, bigotry, treason and a devaluation of humanity.”
Abrams authorized commanders to remove displays of the flag wherever they might be on USFK installations.
The ban follows similar action by the Marine Corps against display of the battle flag and comes amid growing tensions between the Pentagon’s top leadership and the White House over bases named for Confederate figures, including Gen. Robert E. Lee.
In announcing a ban on the display of the Confederate battle flag April 23, Gen. David Berger, the Marine commandant, said he was “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.”
Abrams’ order also applies to the families of U.S. troops, retirees, contractors, Defense Department civilians and South Korean civilians working on bases, and “any other persons with access to USFK installations.”
The order does not apply to display of the battle flag where it is depicted but not the main focus of an event, such as in artistic, historical or educational displays on the Civil War.
It also does not apply to the display of state flags that incorporate the Confederate battle flag, often called the “Stars and Bars,” featuring a red field with a blue “X” dotted by 13 white stars.
— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.
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