In Arkansas, a confederate flag tattoo stenciled in with the words “southern pride” resulted in teenager Anthony Bauswell being rejected by the U.S. Marines recruiting office in his area. Bauswell says the Marines recruiter told him he was automatically “DQ,” or disqualified, since the body art was considered objectionable based upon the Marine Corps standards.
Bauswell says that he has the southern pride confederate flag tattoo in order to show pride in his country upbringing, but when the recruiter at the Conway Marines recruiting center saw the tattoo, the meaning and intentions were interpreted quite differently.
“There’s the tattoo it clearly states southern pride. As soon as I said rebel flag on my ribs, he says DQ, just automatically, DQ,” Bauswell told KARK 4. “I felt pretty low. My own government wasn’t going to let me serve my country because of the ink on my skin.”
According to the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, new recruits cannot have any tattoo art that are “prejudicial to good order, discipline or morale.” The list of banned tattoos includes those that are vulgar, sexist, offensive in nature, or related to street gangs or extremist organizations. Marine recruits also cannot have tattoos on their heads or necks, so Bauswell had the southern pride tattoo done on his ribs.
— KNWA News (@KNWAnews) January 21, 2016
In this case, Bauswell believes the reason he was disqualified is because the Marine recruiter considered the confederate flag racist.
“I definitely don’t want it to be seen as racism, which is 99 percent of the reason I got southern pride on it,” Bauswell said. “I kind of felt like I had a plan for my life, and now that I can’t go, I am not sure where I stand.”
RELATED REPORTS BY THE INQUISITR
The U.S. Marines tattoo policy is currently being updated. U.S Marines Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said the new tattoo policy will streamline the existing guidelines into one document, although sleeve tattoos will still now be allowed.
“Having talked to them, I don’t think most Marines understand what the policy is,” Neller said, according to WTSP. “I don’t think they understand what they can do. They just know they can’t get a sleeve. We’re actually going to try to provide pictures to clarify what we mean when we say ‘a quarter of a body part,’ or whatever it is.”
In the meantime, the U.S. Army tattoo policy has actually become more lenient.
“Society is changing its view of tattoos, and we have to change along with that,” then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said at the time. “It makes sense. Soldiers have grown up in an era when tattoos are much more acceptable and we have to change along with that.”
Neller says he respects that Marines will sometimes get a tattoo in order to “memorialize a friend,” but he also believes the Marine Corps isn’t a “rock and roll band.”
“We’re Marines,” Neller said. “We have a brand. People expect a certain thing from us and right now, if you’re in PT uniform, you can be completely tatted up under your PT uniform. That’s not enough? You can still get certain size tattoos on your arms and your legs. How much do you want?”
Anthony Bauswell is not the first person in recent years to make headlines due to being rejected from the Marines over a tattoo. Marine Sgt. Daniel Knapp served multiple deployments in Afghanistan and received awards and promotions, yet when it came time for reenlistment he was rejected over his tattoos.
“When I was in Afghanistan, my tattoos never stopped me from shooting anyone, and they never made me more of a target,” Knapp said back in 2015. “They never stopped me from keeping Marines safe. On patrol nothing ever happened because of my tattoos.”
Do you consider the pictured tattoo of the confederate flag racist? What do you think about the U.S. Marines tattoo policy?
[Image via Twitter]