In the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting and alleged shooter Dylann Roof’s racist manifesto and images of him with the Confederate flag, there is a nationwide frenzy to purge the flag and other symbols of the South.
On Monday, June 22, 2015, Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley, a Republican, called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House.
Haley’s move, the New York Times reports, sparked off “with striking speed and scope. . . an emotional, nationwide movement to strip symbols of the Confederacy from public parks and buildings, license plates, Internet shopping sites and retail stores.”
Organize Now, a Florida equal-rights activist group, has started an online petition calling for the removal of a monument to Confederate soldiers from Orlando’s Lake Eola Park. (Source)
Yesterday, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, called for the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee from the center of Lee Circle. Lee was the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. Landrieu said, “Symbols really do matter. Symbols should reflect who we really are as a people. We have never been a culture, in essence, that revered war rather than peace, division rather than unity.”
At the same time, hypocrisy and double standards abound. Amazon will no longer sell the Confederate flag, but continues to sell Nazi memorabilia. Walmart won’t sell the Confederate flag, but has the flags of dictatorial Iran and Cuba for sale.
Even more alarming is a blogger’s claim that Obama recently signed an Executive Order banning the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of Confederate flags and other memorabilia. This is what the blogger of Real News, Right Now — a man who calls himself R. Hobbus J.D., “an internationally acclaimed independent investigative journalist” — wrote on June 23, 2015:
During a White House-hosted dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan Monday evening, President Obama, flanked by select cabinet members, announced he has signed into law an executive order banning the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of Confederate flags and other memorabilia….
The executive order is the 209th issued by President Obama since taking office and is being hailed as a major victory against racism. Based largely on Germany’s anti-Nazi laws, the order, which officially goes into effect on June 18th, makes it illegal to possess “any item or symbol bearing the sign of the Confederacy.” President Obama, calling the Confederate flag a “symbol of hatred,” compared its history to that off the Third Reich, saying, “You don’t see government buildings in Germany flying the Nazi flag, we shouldn’t have to see the Confederate flag here.”
Also included in the executive order is an amendment to 18 U.S. Code 249, allowing for any “individual or entity found to be in violation of the law” to be prosecuted under the federal hate crimes statute. Under federal law, the punishment carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. “In light of recent events, I’m inclined to believe a ten-year sentence is far too lenient,” Al Sharpton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer today. Blitzer, who agreed with Sharpton, said many in Washington have echoed similar sentiment.
Under orders from the White House, the Department of Justice, while working in conjunction with local and state law enforcement agencies, will, in the coming weeks, launch a nationwide operation to halt manufacturing and distribution of the soon-to-be-illegal contraband. According to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the brunt of the operation, spearheaded by the FBI, will focus on the deep south and Midwestern regions of the U.S., “However, state and local agencies across the country are being asked to conduct their own seizures.”
There’s just one thing wrong with R. Hobbus’ post: It cites no source(s), nor are there embedded source links. Not even one.
In an effort to verify Hobbus’ alarming claim, I conducted an Internet search for this Executive Order, Obama’s 209th, to no avail. This is what I found:
1. To begin, Hobbus made a factual numerical error. According to the Federal Register, Obama has issued 216 Executive Orders, not 209.
2. The White House’s website on Obama’s Executive Orders (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders) listed two Executive Orders issued in June 2015 (June 24 and June 17), and one on May 26, 2015. None of the three recent Executive Orders has anything to do with banning the Confederate flag.
- The June 24 Executive Order is on hostage recovery activities. It makes no mention of the Confederate flag or other Confederate symbols. Verify for yourself by clicking here.
- The June 17 Executive Order has to do with amendments to the manual for courts martial, and makes no mention of the Confederate flag. Verify for yourself by clicking here.
- The May 26 Executive Order terminates the national emergency that was declared in a previous Executive Order (no. 13617) with respect to the risk of nuclear proliferation created by the accumulation of a large volume of weapons-usable fissile material in the Russian Federation. The May 26 Executive Order makes not mention of the Confederate flag. Verify for yourself by clicking here.
3. As for Hobbus’ claim that Obama’s alleged executive order amended 18 U.S. Code 249, thereby allowing for any individual or entity found to be in possession of any item or symbol bearing the sign of the Confederacy to be prosecuted under the federal hate crimes statute, I also was unable to verify the claim. I went on the U.S. Department of Justice’s website, specifically its web page on 18 U.S. Code 249, also known as Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. There is no mention of any amendment outlawing the Confederate flag. Verify for yourself by clicking here.
I suggest that other bloggers, like DCGazette, stop being gullible and reblog Hobbus’ bogus Real News, Right Now post. Hobbus is yanking our chains, for his perverse amusement. Shame on him.