Tim Cook has let his personal politics affect Apple; Board may have to rein him in

“A couple of days ago, I wrote about the difficulties Apple would face if it tried to censor the Confederate flag in its online stores,” Jim Lynch writes for CIO. “Unfortunately, the company – under Tim Cook’s leadership – wasted no time in engaging in reactionary censorship of the Confederate flag in its app store.”

“While I suspected something like this would happen, it still shocked me to find out that Apple would engage in this kind of overt censorship of history. The company appears to have made no distinction for apps that are educational in nature and that have proven to assist teachers in educating students about the Civil War,” Lynch writes. “I think this is a terrible mistake on Apple’s part. It demonstrates short-term, reactionary thinking and casts a deep chill of heavy-handed censorship over Apple’s app store. This is one of those situations where the solution ends up being far worse than the problem.”

“I think that Tim Cook has let his personal politics get the better of his judgement, and he has sent Apple spinning down into the abyss of intellectual censorship. Purging the app store of the Confederate flag may unfortunately be just the beginning of a dark period of political madness in Apple’s history,” Lynch writes. “It may fall to Apple’s board of directors to intervene and correct the company’s overzealous efforts to censor what its customers can see and buy.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s official statement: 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.

As long as Apple is not removing the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses, it is Apple’s prerogative to remove anything that clearly violates Apple Store guidelines. (Of course, this doesn’t explain why these apps were approved in the first place.)

Now Apple (and the developers) just have to figure out where the line between historical and policy violation lies. Unfortunately, that line is likely to be somewhat fuzzy.

SEE ALSO:
Apple removes all American Civil War games from the App Store because of the Confederate flag? – June 25, 2015

115 Comments

  1. “Under Tim Cook’s leadership” would suggest that it was Cook who made this decision. Which is not necessarily the case. Regardless of whoever ordered this, it’s completely stupid.

        1. Agreed. Except Apple just said they are NOT abandoning context. If educational titles featuring the Confederate flag were taken down, I’m sure they’re be reinstated after further review.

          I think Jim Lynch (interesting last name, if you think about it) has some personal issues with either Cook or the Confederate flag. Either way, I think his thinking is out of the mainstream for now.

          1. I realize people are stupid, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about that.

            I am responding to futuremedia, not throwing a blanket statement about apple.

            Here’s your cookie. Now go work on your reading comprehension.

      1. By the way, when did the flag come to represent racism? When I was growing up (Duke of Hazzard Days) that flag symbolized that you were a rebel, against the status quo, willing to be an individual and go your own way, against the prevailing US Government policies and overwhelmingly against the Vietnam war.
        Had nothing to do with racism, at least up here which is above the mason dixon line.

          1. Okay, so Chaz makes points – solid points as to what the flag meant to at many in the north that he knew. Darwin responds with no reason whatsoever, just spouts he’s wrong and provides no evidence, and just emotes. Reading hundreds of threads on dozens of sites, this is a very, very, common theme. Facts – for whatever topic are given – then the opposition (in this case, I assume one on the left side of the isle) provides no reason or counter, and instead just turned to name calling. Brilliantly stupid.

        1. There wasn’t a time when that flag did NOT represent racism.

          During the civil war, of course, it represented treasonous secessionists who wanted to destroy the United States largely because of slavery, and the North’s reluctance to return escaped slaves to the South.

          After the war, Confederate flags all but disappeared for generations, but they were brought back by southern whites when desegregation and civil rights because national issues, in order to show their opposition (in some cases) and open defiance (in others).

          1. Treasonous secessionists? Like Washington, Jefferson, et al?
            States’ rights was an enormous issue, no matter how hard northern revisionists may try to make it all about slavery. Fox News would go out of business if they were to stop calling for political revolution.
            One thing that sticks with me is Shelby Foote’s statement in Ken Burns’ The Civil War – Before the war, people would say “The United States are…” After the war, people would say, “The United States is…”. It is too bad it took such a devastating war for a balance to be established between the rights of states and the rights of the national government.

            1. Growing up in Virginia we were taught the War Between the States. Not a Civil War. Slavery was downplayed. The focus was a Federal government trying to undermine States’ Rights, threatening peoples’ self-determination. This drama is still being played out

          1. The confederate flag did not have any widespread presence in the country between the Civil War and around 1960, when it was promoted far and wide SPECIFICALLY as a symbol of racism… anti equal rights, anti black, pro segregation. It very, very specifically does mean racism.

        2. Kudos to Apple. The Confederate flag is as bad as the swastika.

          Also, why is this guy picking on Apple? Walmart and many others are also ashcanning the Confederate flag.

          1. If that’s true, then why does iTMS still have the Lynyrd Skynyrd album “Legend” for sale which prominently displays the Confederate flag in the background?

            So you must also think Bill Clinton & Al Gore are racist as they had a campaign button of the Confederate flag that said “Clinton – Gore” in the middle…

            Ooops..

            1. It’s been a very interesting read. I don’t read left or right leaning websites or blogs. Don’t have the time frankly. I do like MDN because it gives a cross section of thought. There are some very deep thinkers here (along with the name callers) and I am deeply interested in seeing thinking peoples perspectives.

        3. My high school mascot was the rebel and the fight song was Dixie. This was changed quite some time ago because some folks associated this with slavery. The thought never crossed our minds that it would be considered racist. No one I ever met during my high school years were racist in any way whatsoever.
          Some people come from areas where race is an extremely prominent issue – places where there is massive poverty concentrated in urban ghettos, where riots happen, and so on. This never happened where I grew up. My generation had no racial animosities whatsoever. We put a man in the White House from our state who made the elimination of prejudice, the end of segregation and other racial issues one of the two major themes of his presidency.
          What slavery that had taken place more than a century before I was born was perhaps one one-thousandth of what it was in other states. The economy of my state had not depended on it and, while there was a group of hot-heads who were indeed totally racist, it was not a factor in the lives of any but a small part of the white population back then.
          As for my experience with the Dixie theme and rebel mascot, I guess it was about nothing more than pep rallies and football games, and that was it. Going to a pep rally in a thousand seat auditorium with the band playing Dixie at full volume was absolutely thrilling (and being from the long-haired faction just coming off Woodstock, this is saying a lot). It was like hearing that first chord in the Beatles’ song Help. It was electrifying. Dixie was among Abraham Lincoln’s favorite songs.
          But that was a different era. For the majority of the American people, there is no separation between the “rebel” and the racist. In my world, the two were totally separate. But the fact is that if it is considered to be offensive, that’s the trump card, regardless of intent. No more rebel flags and not more Dixie. I’m fine with it. Healing is more important than a trivial high school fight song.
          ___
          Epilogue: Some fifteen years after graduation I was deeply in love with a wonderful woman. We clicked like we were absolutely made for each other. It was that kind of mature love that didn’t depend on entertainment or diversions. It was the kind where just being with each other and not saying anything was so spiritual and profound. We had known each other for four years and then I asked her to marry me. She said yes. It was like the entire world was dancing in light. But a few days later, in what was one of the toughest stages of personal growth I have ever had to endure, she broke it off. It was because her father would never allow her to marry a white man.
          Ten years later and an entire continent away, I ran into her by total random chance. She had been so devastated by the impact of her father’s racism, she never married.
          Such is life in a world where race matters.

            1. Very sorry for your loss as well. Question, how do we know that the “majority” of Americans view the flag as racist? I don’t think the act of one juvenile murderer can change 160 years of the flags existence. I am not aware that racist organizations like the KKK wrapping themselves in the confederate flag. Can one lone murderer galvanize the majority like this?

              Why then can’t the Sandy Hook murders lead to some meaningful gun control of assault weapons?

      2. It’s funny how some people think the Confederacy is alive and well and none of these people were even alive at the time of the Civil War. “Hey, look at me. I’m Johnny Yuma.” I actually had watched that short-lived 60’s TV series but I never thought about waving a Confederate flag. Heck, why would a Northerner want to fly the flag of the defeated South? In any case, that was a long time ago and needs to be put away.

        It’s really amazing how they said Confederate flag sales went up while they’re trying to ban them. Are there really Confederates still around or are these people simply collectors of ancient memorabilia?

      3. No need for anyone to “reign him in.” Everything he has said is right and true, humane, and on the right side of history. Taylor Swift could never make me boycott Apple, but a conservative stance with blinders on surely would.

    1. I often disagree with Tim Cook’s well meaning, but ill considered off the cuff social justice remarks. I disagree with him about the Confederate Flag. Tim Cook, though, has led Apple to a great deal of success since the untimely death of Steve Jobs. I don’t see how anyone can argue against this. No matter what his personal feelings are, Apple appears to be doing extremely well. Tim should be allowed to have opinions.

      Many people are inspired by Tim as well. I would much rather live in a world where someone I disagree with is free to say whatever they like, than not. I mean, that’s the whole damn point, right?

      1. I agree Tim has performed masterly and fully agree he can have opinions, but I’m not sure his opinions should be Apples. There are many many worthy causes, and it’s just not possible to pick a few to be passionate about and influence you business by because you end up alienating people who have passionate causes you aren’t out front advocating.

        He can have his opinion, he can speak his opinion, he can fund and fundraise for his causes, just leave Apple the Company out of it.

        1. When you are able to climb to Tims position then you make the calls you think are right.
          In the meanwhile Tim is the man.. And he has planty of smart advisors around him.

    2. With talk of purging the Confederate Flag from the store, the first thing that comes to my mind is The Dukes of Hazard. I would be beyond disappointed in Apple if they allow this irrelevant knee-jerk impulse to actually play out.

      And where do we stop?

      There are many symbols out there. I don’t care for the Hammer and Sickle, stupid Che Guevara posters, the Islam Crescent moon and star, socialist styled hope and change Obama pictures, the MSNBC Logo to name a few. In particular I get much stress an angst anytime I receive an envelope with the IRS symbol on it.

      I don’t like No Dogs Allowed symbols. It hurts my dogs feelings. Dog lives matter!

      It can get really ridiculous really fast.

      If someone tries to tell Tim Cook he’s not allowed to speak his mind, I’m taking up his side. I think he does need to think things out a bit more though.

      1. And for all the Yankee government did to the native Americans while opposing southern secessionist 150+ years ago, then the US flag should be banned too! Hypocrisy rules!

        The real root to this is a “freedom” issue and the understanding of the very nature of “Freedom”.
        Today, One side does not want the other side to exist, and doesn’t want the other side to have a say, basically wants them to be a slave without a voice. How hypocritical!!!!!

        Our forefathers were not as stupid as some psudo-intellectuals think!

        Join TC and make it a one sided affair with no tolerance from anything that he disagrees with. This is what happens to governments / people when they only tolerate their own. Narrow minded and full of hate for the other side. Hiding what you hate doesn’t make it go away.

      1. Yes, but they’re usually held by the enemy, not the heroes. The Confederate battle flag represents the losing side in a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Honestly, it’s offensive for ANY American to wear it or “proudly” display it.

  2. Funny… if those flags were there in an “offensive or mean-spirited way[s]” PRIOR to their removal, and they were removed because they were in violation of the Store’s guidelines, why were they there at all?

  3. This is why Steve Jobs didn’t shoot his mouth off at every little thing he personally disagreed with(with the exception of product development).

    This is why Apple’s PR department was so slow to to react. Because it’s always better to act, and act deliberately(Yes this did cause some problems, but it avoided countless other problems.).

    Tim Cook can blog post to his hearts content, I got no problem with him bashing Christians, or racists, who refuse to bake pizza’s for gay weddings, or shoot up innocent church members.

    I think it’s stupid, but he can blather on all he wants, just like me…we…us.

    But when it comes to Apple, The Company, slow down, sit down, spread your legs, and let the nuts cool off a bit before you rush haphazardly into something.

    Act with purpose, with thought, with intent. Don’t fall into the trap of emotionally reacting to every little issue like a four year old.

          1. Yes, the 1st Amendment only restricts the Gov from untoward action.

            But that’s the point. The action, of restricting ones speech, or free expression there of, is untoward. Uncouth. Down right shameful.

            Any time you try to force someone to shut their pie hole, it is you, who is the baboon.

            The only true answer to bad speech, is more and better speech.

            As an American, your first action should always be to live, and let live.

            Note I never said Tim shouldn’t blather on, I just said that his doing so was stupid, and that Apple, as a company, should itself, act with wisdom.

            If Tim is going to pontificate the progressive virtues of his like minded ilk, it would behoove him to put a small distance between his words, and Apples actions.

            In this particular case ask yourself, W.W.S.D.? And follow his example(despite him saying not too).

    1. The only over zealous, reactionary responses are coming from thoat did not read Apple’s statement

      I personally have no problem with Tim’s decision. As a former police officer I can attest to a correlation between conduct and attitudes towards minorities in general, and gays and blacks specifically, among those that display the Confederate flag.

      1. Opinions are welcome in this country
        We all have them
        But do not try to push an assertion of fact less any supporting data as that simply is unacceptable
        Happy trails

      2. 2 years ago Cook gave an interview. I don’t remember who it was with but he talked about growing up in the South and seeing things that made him literally ill.

        I’m about the same age as Tim. My family was half from Texas and half from Louisiana. Today I hardly recognize Dallas and Shreveport. It was a different time. This does not mean that racists have vanished. I maintain that won’t happen until everyone stands up and acknowledges there is no such thing as race.

        It does mean that this marvelous introspective and self healing nation is doing its best to cure itself. We need to stop acting like there’s been no change. I can pretty much go anywhere I want, do anything I want, achieve anything I put my mind to. That wasn’t true when I was a kid and these changes have occurred over mere decades.

        I’ve always felt like the American flag is most symbolic when someone is defacing it. It is in that moment that what it stands for is most clear. When people fly the Confederate flag, for some it reminds them of what things used to be like. For me that is empowering to realize that yes, that’s how things USED to be.

        It worries me that those who miss how things used to be will be empowered by society attacking the Confederate flag.

        1. well said as usual T-Mac. It also bothers me that a murderous flag-burning racist loser can cause this national backlash. He wanted to bring about a race war- and in some way, we are giving him a voice and letting him win. Banning the battle flag won’t change peoples hearts for the positive, and it might inspire more hate and resentment.

        2. T-Mac,

          That is the best description of the changes in the American culture that I have read anywhere. I wish all would read this and simply think on it.

          No, we are not at where we should be. But we are not where we were. Thank you for your comments!

      3. greggthurman: imo, be careful. Attitudes are worlds apart from conduct. If someone has a goofy, distasteful and even dangerous thought/attitude, let it live, imo. This issue is so critical exactly because the culture is morphing the two–maybe unknowingly. We seem to be more intolerant of discomfortable statements, images, media and beliefs that are different from our own and a/the vocal majority can shut down and ostracize those that have been defines as unwelcomed. This borders on mob rule…or the Facebook-ization of what’s good. We stand behind the fervor of “likes” w/o critical judgement of implications. One may not be in the “non-liked” sector now, but what happens when your thought/belief isn’t welcomed by the culture? There are historical examples of such and they’re not pretty. Btw, I’ve never owned and probably will never own, nor wish to own a C-flag.

  4. The way this incident unfolds and the final consequences will likely remain a significant lesson for other corporations. Let us see how Apple handles the fallout from this rather hasty decision.

    I’m always the first to support Apple in almost everything they do, especially if it is progressive. This one, I’m not quite sure about it.

      1. Many of the policies currently in place and favored by modern conservatives would have been considered terribly radical and progressive in the past.

        Progressive…regressive…conservative…liberal… They are all qualitative labels that are defined relative to a particular viewpoint. Labels are the tools of the weak-minded.

      2. Right. Because progress is truly dangerous… The world was so much better when we were all farmers, when we went to sleep at sunset and woke up with sunrise, when the fastest we could go was the speed of our horse. The industrial revolution, electricity, automobile and and in general, technology brought nothing but destruction of our society… And let’s not even talk about the social order… Where are those days when serfs were serfs and vassals were vassals, and you knew who ruled and who served! And don’t let me get going on women! They new their place in the society (== kitchen)! Progress is the bane of human existence!

        1. “Progressives” in the political sense CHOSE that name as “Liberal” in poll after poll had a negative connotation.

          Most Americans lean right (hence center-right), hence the reason for “Liberal” having the negative connotation.

          The Liberals rebranded as “Progressives” to try to get around this negativity…

          It has NOTHING to do with the progress of mankind. Know your history (duh!)

        2. I abandoned the words liberal, progressive, and conservative years ago when I saw they’d been hijacked by social engineers—political operatives actively trying to undermine the opposition, bypassing ideas and going directly to words, which can be given new emotional clout by recasting them as derogatory labels. Repetition can make the new meanings stick. William Safire was on to this trick early on, recognizing George Orwell’s influence. In lists of talking points, which party members are obligated to observe, certain neologisms or redefined words are emphasized. Over time, journalists, and eventually the public, pick up the newly attached negative meanings. One example is Republicans referring unfailingly to “the Democrat Party” after a hundred years of being known as the Democratic Party. The idea was that Democrats aren’t democratic, and that became a meme that persists like a canker sore.

    1. For the life of me, no matter how I try, I can’t figure what’s so progressive about the left’s socialistic/statist pursuits. I’m left to think, it’s a “give it one more shot–this time it’s going to work,” type of thinking.

  5. If the app was in “violation of our guidelines” why did Apple approve these apps in the first place. Tim Cook is turning out to be an incredibly poor choice for CEO. Maybe he should run for office, or head up some LGBTQT non profit. Clearly, he is an activist not a CEO.

    1. sean and Gregg –

      See MDN’s “See Also” and the quote therein about a very accurate historical game having been removed. Nothing more than the flag’s presence, just like a game with a swastika appearing in it somewhere.

      Chuklz – No. Why not? Because this was a poor decision; a knee-jerk reaction that shouldn’t have happened.

    2. Because virtually no one in America “proudly” wears a Swastika as a symbol of pride or honor, and the swastika does not fly high in front of hundreds of monuments and official buildings — not even in Germany.

      Frankly, the Confederate flag and the Swastika should be treated exactly the same. They are historic items that exclusively belong in historical contexts only. Video games that show Southern armies in the civil war certainly qualify, as do video games that show German armies in WWII.

        1. I’m not telling anyone what to do. Companies are responding to public opinion. If enough public opinion says bring Confederate merchandise back, it’ll be back.

          No one of us “permitted” these things two weeks ago. The Charleston shooter wanted to start a race war, and he did. Just not the one he wanted. He made Americans wake up and realize that the bullshit notion of “Southern pride” was just masking the obvious hate and racism represented by the flag.

          The race war is on, and frankly the dumbass contingent appear to be losing.

      1. “— not even in Germany.”

        The German Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) 86a comprehensively deals with issues like this. It make illegal the use of offensive symbols such as the Swastika, Kriegsflagge, Solar Cross ( as used by Ku Klux Klan ) and more recently the black flag used by ISIS. It also outlaws certain spoken greetings such as “”Heil Hitler” or “Sieg Heil”.

        The ban is context sensitive, so using a symbol as part of a political gathering is most definitely illegal ( up to 3 years imprisonment ), but allowable if used for benign purposes, such as when used in heraldry or for legitimate historical reasons ( museums ). One reason behind this is that the Swastika symbol originated thousands of years ago and is used in Buddhism and Hinduism.

        The law is written in such a way that variations ( mirror images or approximations to the outlawed symbol ) are also illegal.

        Curiously, that has led to controversy when antifascist protest groups adopted the symbol of a crossed out Swastika, but judges are divided about whether it’s legal or illegal. On one hand it’s a modified banned symbol, but on the other hand, the context is to oppose offensive behaviour.

        I think that if Apple properly applied the context test with regard to depicting the Confederate flag, it would address most of the problems. Apple could benefit from examining how Germany has dealt with this complex issue.

      1. Because they were also ignorant and used as pawns by a rich southerners who needed slaves to keep themselves rich. Stir the ignorant up with some fancy words and put guns in their hands while the rich ones knock back mint juleps on the plantation. “Rally ’round the (Confederate) flag, boys and get yourself killed.”

      2. You fought in an unpopular war. Why’d you do it? Were you a poor, luckless draftee, or were you persuaded by patriotic, anti-communist rhetoric at the time? The boys in 1861 were in the same type of boat, I’d wager. Cue Viet Nam Song by Country Joe and the Fish.

  6. Lynch – “The company appears to have made no distinction for apps that are educational in nature and that have proven to assist teachers in educating students about the Civil War,”

    Apple – “We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses”

    It appears that CIO may have to rein Lynch in.

      1. Perhaps Apple is removing the apps en masse, then plans to restore the “acceptable” ones?

        The media and many of the people on this forum are often hasty in speculating and passing summary judgment whenever Apple takes an action, often before the situation/facts are fully known, much less understood. Take a breath and let the situation evolve a little. No need to get Taylor Swift involved, yet…

  7. What utter BS by Tim Cook. Historical war-games do not use the Confederate battle flag in an offensive manner. Apple does not allow its mobile users to buy apps from other stores, so it needs to keep Tim Cook’s personal tastes out of these decisions. The App Store is not some corner bodega–it needs to respect the ability of its customers to make these kinds of decisions for themselves. Apple has jumped the shark.

  8. Civil War battle simulators do not use the flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, so Apple is being totally disingenuous here. If that isn’t using the flag in a historical way, I don’t know what is. And yes, Cook needs to take a big step back from his radical activist ways and fast.

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