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A teenager from Greenbrier, Arkansas wanted nothing more than to dedicate his life and career to the American military. So when he came of age, the first thing he did was put on a nice pair of shoes and walked over to the local Marine Corps recruitment office. During the initial application, 18-year-old Anthony Bauswell needed to answer some standard questions. But when he told the recruiter about his “Southern Pride” tattoo, the Marines rejected him. He would not be allowed to serve in the American military with a Confederate flag on his body.
“As soon as I said rebel flag on my ribs, he says DQ, just automatically, QC,” Bauswell tells KARK news.
The teen’s tattoo depicts a Confederate flag blowing in the wind with the words “Southern Pride” written across it. It is a large tattoo that he has on his ribs.
“I felt pretty low,” Bauswell added, “My own government wasn’t going to let me serve my country because of the ink on my skin.”
In 2015, Bauswell graduated from high school. When he decided to get the flag tattooed onto his body, he understood that it was a controversial statement and that it is associated with the southern states that left the United States of America. It is called the rebel flag because it represents that states that rebelled against the United States government. Given the flag’s history, it is not a surprise that the Marines, a division of the United States military, would not accept someone with the flag inked on their person.
“I definitely don’t want it to be seen as racism, which is 99 percent of the reason I got “Southern Pride” [added] on it,” he told KARK.
However, the majority of Americans today think the Confederate flag is a racist symbol
A Washington Post op-ed on that poll said, “The Confederate battle flag is an outdated emblem of a racist and shameful chapter in American history, and it must be taken down.”
Bauswell had always thought he would go into the Marines. Now that he knows he is not qualified, he is lost.
The Marine Corps forbids tattoos with “racist, sexist, eccentric or offensive” content. The Marine Corps is planning to release an update on their tattoo policy soon – especially since many young people get them.
“Having talked to them, I don’t think most Marines understand what the policy is,” Commandant General Robert Neller told the Marine Corps Times back at the start of 2017. “I don’t think they understand what they can do. They just know they can’t get a sleeve.”
Bauswell comes from a family that defends the Confederate flag.
His mother, Kim Mahan, signed a petition called “Keep History in Arkansas” that reads:
“We have people destroying everything that has to do with history (Confederate) flag but yet no one has said anything about the people stomping on the American Flag or burning them.
“O and we also have Black History Month and the African American Monument? Why should they have all of this history but WE can not because of those making our history about racism.”
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