After a tragedy or an act of violence that takes innocent lives, people will react in any number of ways. Some people band together in solidarity against bad people. Some people defend the bad people, on the basis of their religion, claiming that they were provoked by something the victims said or drew. Some will get angry and riot, destroying their neighborhoods without concern. And some will start banning unrelated shit.
Today we learned that Apple is one of many companies knee-jerking their way to curtain number four.
It has been revealed that Apple made the irrational decision to start pulling games that include depictions of a Confederate flag from their App Store, an impulse resulting from the racially motivated shooting in Charleston SC that left nine dead and the country shaken.
A representative from Apple spoke with Buzzfeed Thursday, saying, “We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines. We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses.”
But hold the phone, these are games that are using the Confederate flag for historical uses. Apple is enforcing these removals without accounting for context, with many historically accurate Civil War era games yanked without any notice. Any resubmissions of these games are dependent on the removal of the Confederate flag from the game. Amongst the removed games are Civil War: 1862, Civil War: 1863, Civil War: 1864, Civil War: Gettysburg, and Ultimate General: Gettysburg. These games are all about the Civil War and, are you ready for this? The evil genius developers used the Confederate flag in their games… because they’re games about the Civil War.
Now, many World War II games substitute the swastika, which was a symbol of the Nazi government, for the iron cross, which was a symbol used by the German army. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for game developers right now, as the symbol of the Confederate army is already being used, not the symbol of the Confederate States of America. A reasonable and previously established alternative is not available to these developers, because they’re already basically doing what approved WWII games are.
Approved… for now, of course.
Joining Apple in this crusade are Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Sears, who have all announced that they would no longer sell merchandise that featured a Confederate flag. Amazon has already removed the award winning board game Battle Cry, which has existed since 2000. But, you know, flag. Maybe if they replace the Confederate flag with an image of a ninja giraffe riding a shark, things would go smoother. Who needs historical accuracy when people might possibly have hurt feelings?
These companies have obviously already determined that they, as companies, are morally responsible for the products they offer. Cool! Let’s see how morally responsible they’re being.
For the Communist in your life, head on over to Sears for a lovely Chairman Mao 12×18 print – although the same print at Walmart is $30 cheaper. Feeling Nazi-ish? Check out eBay, who always has a nice array of swastika coins and silver spoons. Every so often they toss in a lovely swastika ring. For less than $10 on Amazon, you can get Adolph Hitler’s signature on a 1oz gold plated bar. And for the game lovers with iPhones, Wolfenstein 3D is still available on the App Store, littered with Nazis and swastikas. Thankfully, though, you can no longer see a Confederate flag in your Civil War games. Because those things are bad.
But getting serious: South Carolina and Alabama deciding to remove the Confederate flag from their government buildings? I’m completely on board with that. That represented a state-sanctioned endorsement of the flags, and what they had represented. Stopping the sale of art and historically accurate games with depictions of, you know, what was actually there? Not so much.
I know I’ll be hearing from the people who are like, “Oh, well, they’re a business and are exercising their right to sell or not sell what they want.It’s not censorship.” And maybe it isn’t – at least, not in the traditional sense of the word. But it’s certainly playing into a very dangerous precedent that impacts the ways in which history is, and will be, taught. Getting rid of the Confederate flag in art is, excuse my language, fucking ridiculous, considering art and games are often utilized as educational tools – or did my grade school teachers lie to me all those times I contracted malaria playing The Oregon Trail?
Is the Confederate flag garbage? Sure, maybe. But dammit, it’s OUR garbage. It’s America’s garbage. You don’t get to pretend that a monumental part of our country’s history didn’t happen because it hurts people’s feelings. That flag doesn’t only represent the bad in the history, it’s also an important part of a person’s heritage. Nearly every culture in all of mankind has had blood, war, and even slavery in its history. How many more flags do we have to ban before people finally say “enough is enough”?
Liz Finnegan is a soulless ginger with no political leanings. Pun enthusiast. Self-proclaimed “World’s Okayest Person.” Retro gaming contributor for The Escapist.
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