Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent letters to the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the Air Force, the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the National Guard Bureau Chief urging them to follow the example of the Marine Corps’ historic decision and ban any and all Confederate iconography from their bases and installations around the globe.
“For more than a century, the Confederate flag has stood as a symbol of white supremacy and the enslavement of Black people,” SPLC President and Chief Executive Officer Margaret Huang wrote in the letter. “The flag was used extensively by the Ku Klux Klan as it waged a campaign of terror against African Americans during the civil rights movement and segregationists in positions of power raised it in defense of discriminatory Jim Crow laws. Our public entities should no longer play a role in distorting history by honoring a secessionist government that waged war against the United States to preserve white supremacy and the enslavement of millions of people. We must act now to bury the myth of the Lost Cause once and for all.”
Last week, the Marine Corps instructed its commanders across its entire service to “identify and remove” all Confederate flag imagery in public and work spaces at their installations in the United States and abroad. This included bumper stickers, clothing, mugs, posters and any other items depicting the Confederate battle flag and the stark reminder of what the Confederate battle flag has represented throughout our nation’s history.
Since the end of the Civil War, the Confederate symbols currently occupying public spaces have served as a continual reminder of the pain and oppression they represent. Similar to the numerous monuments that endorse revisionist history, the naming of military assets in honor of the Confederacy occurred decades after the South surrendered and over 750,000 American lives were lost in the Civil War.
The SPLC also urges state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as other federal government law enforcement branches and agencies governed by the Department of Homeland Security, to follow the Marine Corps’ lead by immediately removing any and all symbols of the Confederacy from their public and work spaces.