When a mass shooting that seems to be motivated by racial hate happens, you can expect it to make ripples throughout nearly all the lands. That’s what’s happened in the recent mass shooting in South Carolina, where a white male (who apparently identifies as a white supremacist) killed 9 and injured more at a historically black church.
Retailers everywhere rushed to remove merchandise that showed the Confederate flag from their stores. In case you don’t know, the Confederate flag was originally created as a symbol of pride for the Confederacy during the Civil War, but has since become a symbol of hatred for those who preferred the status quo of those dark times.
But it doesn’t stop at retailers alone. Google and Apple are seemingly following suit for digital goods, with the companies purging apps and games from their respective app stores which depict the confederate flag (such as HexWar Games’ title, which uses the flag for historical accuracy).
On Apple’s part, they say their current policy will be to remove apps and games which use the flag in obscene and offensive ways, and will reinstate apps and games which use it for educational purposes only. We imagine Google’s policy lies along similar lines, though we have not yet heard from the company regarding their official stance.
This touchy subject isn’t bound to end here. The quick move to oust these apps has many folks crying out and wondering why goods featuring other offensive symbols, such as the Swastika, haven’t been met with a similar response.
The Swastika has a similar history in that it was originally used as a symbol of good (or, at least, good-willed) ideals, but was later perverted by Hitler and Nazi Germany and is particularly offensive to Jewish people (or anyone who simply detested Nazism). The difference here seems to be that there haven’t been many known hate crimes against the party which that symbol primarily offends in recent times.
Of course, the one big realization in all of this is that we don’t even know if this was a hate crime yet. It looks bad and it happened in a southern state that played a big part in American slavery, sure, but there’s no official justification for calling this a hate crime until the Department of Justice rules it as such (even though police have concluded that the attack was racially motivated).
The early reaction from retailers and technology companies is likely more about them trying to win positive PR, or at the least trying to prevent any potential negative variants.
And that’s all it is. The apps being wrongfully removed are likely to be back at some point, and we’re probably better off for all the others to simply be forgotten.