Here’s some quotes from the Commandant’s letter banning Confederate symbology.
All of our installations have regulations prohibiting the display of symbols related to hate speech. (1)
So, apparently, pride in one’s heritage is now hate speech?
… help cultivate an environment which promotes unity and security by limiting offensive or divisive displays. (1)
What about homosexual displays? Those are most certainly divisive and offensive to many!
Leaders must always act thoughtfully when enforcing these provisions because they directly impact a precious constitutional right—the right to free speech. (1)
Listen up, Marines! You have the Constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech … as long as it exactly duplicates what the Commandant says.
I must identify symbols or subcultures that degrade the cohesion that combat demands of us. (1)
So, rather than allow any individuality, any displays of historical pride, any celebration of heritage, or any freedom of speech, the Commandant has made it his mission to stamp out any symbols or subcultures … unless, of course, they’re ones he, personally, approves of.
Now, before any of you begin banging out your indignant, outraged protests and condemnation of my support of slavery (I know, many of you already have), note that I haven’t actually said that I support slavery. I also haven’t actually said that I support the display of Confederate symbology. What I’ve said is that I note the classification of some types of symbols as hateful and divisive while other symbols are deemed okay despite also being hateful and divisive.
Frankly, I don’t have any idea why Confederate symbology would be displayed in the Marines. Perhaps there are units that trace their lineage back to the Confederate states and units? I have no idea.
What I do know is that who we are is the sum of all of our past experiences both good and bad. Trying to eliminate all historical record of periods, actions, and attitudes we find disagreeable, however appropriate and typical they may have been for their time, is horribly wrong. We need to study, understand, and learn from our entire past not just the selected bits we deem ‘good’. We must never forget the Nazis, the Holocaust, slavery, or any other evil act. Instead, we must study them and constantly remind ourselves of what they meant and what they mean to us, today, in terms of lessons learned.
When we try to tear down statues of Confederate heroes we are editing our history and that is never a good thing. When we try to remove all reference to Thomas Jefferson (President and founder of the University of Virginia) from the University of Virginia because he owned slaves we are editing our history. This also reminds us that most events and people in history are neither all good nor all bad. To discard parts of our history because some particular aspect of it was bad is to lose all the good that went with it. To tear down George Washington because he owned slaves is to lose the lessons of all the good that he did and all the good he represents.
With all that said, there are three takeaways from this discussion:
- Embrace history, don’t fear it.
- Be consistent. If you want to ban symbology, ban all symbology not selected symbols that you personally disagree with – that’s just hypocrisy.
- If this is what the Commandant is spending his time on then we have the wrong Commandant.
Note: I know this touches on a charged issue. If you choose to comment, be absolutely certain that it's about something I actually said, not something you think I said. Failure to do so will result in a deleted comment.
Note: I'm shutting down commenting on this topic as I can already see that the comments are headed in an unproductive direction. I had hoped that the larger issues could be discussed logically and objectively but it's apparent that comments and discussion will devolve into comments about slavery. Commenting will resume with the next post. Comments remain open for all other posts. Thank you for your understanding.