Like many racist symbols, the Confederate flag has been tolerated, or really tacitly ignored, by mainstream American culture for many decades. That all changed when a deranged racist opened fire on a church full of innocent people in Charleston, South Carolina last week. That horrific action and the discovery that the perpetrator was an avowed racist with a love of the Confederate flag has led to a public backlash against the century and a half old symbol of oppression and traitory.
Moreover, a growing number of retailers have decided to ban sales of the Confederate flag and items with the image of the flag so as to avoid any association with a symbol of racial hate..
One flag manufacturer has also announced it planned to halt production of the Confederate battle flag.
Target, EBay and several other major U.S. retailers followed the lead of Wal-Mart Stores and Sears on Monday, and have said they would no longer sell the flag given its status as a racist symbol.
More on retailers banning Confederate flag
Dylann Roof is the 21-year-old white man arrested for the Charleston massacre. He is seen embracing the Confederate the flag as he posed in photos. Roof also posted his racist opinions online at a number of sites.
U.S. retailers started pulling Confederate merchandise from store shelves and online marketplaces shortly after the shooting based on the demands of customers.
“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer,” Wal-Mart spokesman Brian Nick explained.
“We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell,” Nick said. “Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly. This is one of those instances.”
Sears also announced it was removing Confederate flag merchandise from its Sears and Kmart online stores. The firm noted that Confederate flag merchandise was not sold in its physical stores.
Online retailer EBay also sated that it would ban sales of Confederate flags and most displaying the flag because “it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” spokeswoman Johnna Hoff commented. Ironically, many of the sites mentioned above still sell Nazi, Falangist, Stalinist etc. – which many objective historians would agree is far more genocidal and racist than confederate paraphernalia.
Also of note, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds earlier this week. Similar discussions are also underway regarding the state flag of Mississippi. Auto racing group NASCAR has also begun a discussion regarding the ubiquitous appearance of the racist symbol at its events.