I’m trying to pinpoint the exact moment when this Confederate flag frenzy went from being about making a gesture of goodwill and healing after the Charleston massacre to being a matter of mindless posturing designed to show you’re on the right side. If we hadn’t reached that point already, we have now.
What a perfect little onion of stupidity. Let’s peel the layers.
[Y]ou can now no longer buy the strategy iOS games Civil War: 1862, Civil War: 1863, Civil War: 1864, and Civil War: Gettysburg, which, as you might guess, use the Confederate flag because they’re video games about the Civil War.
Andrew Mulholland, director of these Civil War games, told me this morning that Apple pulled them today without any warning.
“It seems disappointing that they would remove it as they weren’t being used in an offensive way, being that they were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time,” Mulholland said in an e-mail. “At the moment we’re reworking the games to replace the flags that are deemed offensive. We’re going to use the Confederate flag from 1861 and 1862 as the one that’s considered offensive wasn’t introduced until late 1862.”
The note Apple sent, according to Mulholland: “We are writing to notify you that your app has been removed from the App Store because it includes images of the Confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways.”
According to Apple, the Confederate flag is now per se offensive, even if placed in its proper historical context as the battle standard of the Army of Northern Virginia. That’s pure revisionism, nothing more or less. I searched the Apple Store to see if any other apps related to the Civil War are still available and found this one, curiously enough:
I don’t understand why the game is verboten while the photos are okay, adorned as they are with a battle flag right in the app’s logo. The only distinction I can surmise is that the game is entertainment while the photos are an actual historical record; it’s fine to display the flag as a depiction of what actually happened in the Civil War, but the moment you start enjoying yourself with anything involving the Confederacy, poof. That’s a thoughtcrime, son. And Apple won’t tolerate that.
Except when it does. Here’s a screenshot from “World Conqueror 2,” a game about World War II. The flags are too small to be seen in detail but the red one sure looks like the swastika flying over occupied France:
There are men and women alive in America today who experienced the Holocaust firsthand yet Nazi war games are still copacetic for Apple while Confederate war games aren’t. Huh. But even that’s not the stupidest part. Re-read the excerpt and you’ll see that Apple doesn’t seem to have a problem with the game featuring the Confederate army, just the Confederate flag. As vanguards of racist oppression go, the … first is a little stronger than the second, no? You could, I guess, argue that the Confederate flag has actually taken on more cultural meaning over time as a symbol of racism than the Confederacy and its troops have: The latter ceased to exist in 1865 but the former flew on through Jim Crow and segregation, when it regained its prominence as an emblem of southern defiance during the civil-rights movement. But that just gets us back to the revisionism problem. I could understand why Apple might balk at a game that made the Confederate flag its banner of choice for a fictional modern-day army, but why would they balk at it being used for the army that actually flew it? Circa 1862, the flag and the army stood for precisely the same things.
I can’t wait to see if Mulholland’s proposed fix, replacing the familiar Confederate battle flag in the game with an earlier, less well known flag of the Confederacy, will solve the problem. That would be the perfect idiotic denouement: Flags of the Confederate slave regime that oppressed millions are A-OK, so long as that one flag that everyone’s hyperventilating over right now isn’t included. How fantastically stupid.