Apple purges Confederate flag, but Nazi swastika remains in App Store

“A day after Apple began the mass purge of applications depicting the Confederate flag, the Nazi Swastika is still standing prominently in some games,” Gregory Ferenstein writes for Forbes. “The choice to ban a symbol of slavery from historical games, but not of mass genocide, reveals how tech companies struggle to apply hate speech guidelines — often with strange inconsistency. At the moment, Apple allows me kill Nazis but not Confederate generals.”

“Apple reportedly began removing apps and games that display the Confederate flag from its store, in response to recent public pressure to remove the infamous Civil War symbol from businesses and state houses,” Ferenstein writes. “The tech giant has even banned popular Civil War re-enactment games that display the flag in historical context, such as Civil War 1863.”

“‘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,’ wrote Apple to the director of these Civil War Games, Andrew Mulholland, according to gaming blog Kotaku,” Ferenstein writes. “Censorship rules are especially problematic as tech companies become the dominate channels for free speech. Ultimately, tech companies are powerful new gatekeepers of the 1st Amendment; their decisions have profound implications.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Can o’ worms.

Tim Cook has let his personal politics affect Apple; Board may have to rein him in – June 25, 2015
Apple removes all American Civil War games from the App Store because of the Confederate flag? – June 25, 2015


      1. I agree that the Confederate Flag should not fly on government buildings purporting to represent all the people of their state. It is a statement of oppression. However, censoring these images when used in a historical or informational context is indefensible. And I’m not sure that it isn’t happening with Apple’s broad App suspensions. It’s like Stalin having Trotsky removed from historical photos. This is Leftist rewriting of history. Any way you cut it, it’s a lie.

      2. unReality Check,

        “Feelings” does not trump reality nor history. If we stop doing/making every thing that someone has hurt feelings about nothing will get done/made. Amazon pulled confederate products, but not those associated with Nazis – Think some feeling are hurt over Nazis?

        Time to grow and put on big boy pants.

    1. Indeed Apple has opened quite a can of worms. This will distract from their core business of making insanely great products and will actually weaken their ability to project themselves as a politically neutral voice supporting equality and opposing racism.

  1. “The tech giant has even banned popular Civil War re-enactment games that display the flag in historical context, such as Civil War 1863.”

    This is the problem with knee-jerk blanket policies; they’re stupid and counter-productive. By this standard, there should never be any games, books, videos or anything other information on the civil war, slavery, the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing in the middle east, or any other historical event with which we’re uncomfortable. Burn those books! Nuke those Ken Burns documentaries!

    Jesus. Come on, Apple.

    1. “Come on, Apple.”

      This is larger than “Apple”. This is a societal issue, and it’s not a new one.

      It’s like Jerry Seinfeld noted weeks ago, you (you meaning comedians) can’t play college campuses because everyone is over-the-top PC. No one can take a joke. Everyone has thin skin. Everyone gets offended by everything. Tolerance seems to be a oneway street…

      Apple should stick to the crossroads of Liberal Arts and Technology and steer clear of the crossroads of PC and Free speech.

      PC is is not “progress” for the freedom and liberty of our country…

      (Spin away)

      1. Actually, I don’t disagree with anything you said, but the problems you mention (like political correctness, thin skin, and everybody being offended by everything) have sort of taken on a life of their own. You’re absolutely right that it’s a societal issue, and one you and I can’t control. However, Apple is absolutely in a position to control its own policies, and that’s what I take issue with.

  2. Sensitivity to Blacks I guess immediately trumps Native Americans (nearly “genocided” off the planet by invading European hordes) and Jewish people (with millions killed by German Nazi hands during WWII).

    I expect Apple to backtrack from this as they did with Taylor Swift. Take a breath Apple before doing anything so PC foolish in the future.

    1. Actually a massive plague killed off an estimated 90% of the then native Americans before the then Europeans showed up.

      We are all, obviously if you live in the Americas, and you and your parents were born here, native Americans.

      1. Europeans were directly and indirectly responsible for the wholesale slaughter of Native Americans. There were 18 million living here before Europeans arrived and yes 80-90% were killed off by the invaders bringing in disease. So right there we didn’t start off well.

        When I use the term “Native American” I obviously am referring to North American Indians of the period who were part of the America’s long before Europeans arrived. Most people know even today when people speak of “Native Americans” it means the people originally of this land. Guess you missed that in school.

      2. We may be all native-born, but some come from earlier-arriving immigrants than others. Nomadic asians via the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska were first, so they became “Indians”

      3. Indeed the vast majority of pre-european americans were killed by biological warfare (smallpox blankets, rotten food at reservations, etc) than were killed at the point of a gun.

        Interesting take on the term “native”. If place of birth is so important, then why all the republican outrage about anchor babies? Don’t they love the fact that foreign-born mothers care so much about you that they will do your minimum-wage work AND raise a family to populate the continent so that there will be enough lower classes to take care of the aging baby boomers who spend much of their time complaining about not being able to find cheap enough workers to do their bidding?

  3. I made this posting on a thread yesterday, but it’s probably better put on this thread …

    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 a similar context test with regard to depicting the Confederate flag and other offensive symbols, it would address most of the problems. Apple could benefit from examining how Germany has dealt with this sensitive issue.

    1. The funny thing is that Germanys racists and skinheads have adopted the Confederate Battle Flag as their symbol, since they’d get arrested if they used a swastika flag. The Confederate Flag has a meaning that is recognized world wide and not a good one. To pretend otherwise is delusional.

      Its reemergence in government speech (i.e. state flags and monuments) precisely coincides with the Brown v Board of Education, Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of the late ’50s and ’60s. It stands for Southern Apartheid. Nothing more, nothing less. It was worn by the KKK . And it is a symbol of defiance of US Law in present times. There is no mystery about the meaning of Confederate Flag in the modern context.

      NASCAR prohibits the use of the Confederate Flag in any official capacity within the organization. Not on cars, not on uniforms, not on its official flagpoles, not on any licensed merchandise. It doesn’t prohibit the free speech of spectators who care to fly the flag at races, but it does not use the dog whistle to make the organization less inclusive. State governments should try to be at least as good as NASCAR on this.

      As far as symbology in historical games, come on, it was the fact, just as the Civil War was the fact. Banning it in games is silly, unless the game is called “Let’s Go Lynching”.

      While Walmart may not want the reputation of “Racist Symbol Central”, I’d just as soon see them decide not to be the armorer of racists. Just stop selling guns and let the free market see prices rise once Walmarts “low price guarantee” is gone.

      Personally, I think the private use of the flag is protected by the First Amendment. As expressions of free speech, the flag and bumperstickers are fine with me. I’ll interpret them as warning signs.

  4. Typical knee-jerk liberal bullshit. Not only is this bullshit but it shows a total ignorance of history. So, the next time some wack job kills a bunch of people, we should look at everything that he/she/it is into or interested in and ban them as hate symbols. Dylann Roof had on a Gold’s Gym shirt in one of his photos. Why don’t we ban Gold’s Gym too? If we don’t, we’re allowing a symbol of racism to exist. All of you libs can take your best shot now. Do your worst. You’ll just look like the ignorant morons that you are.

    1. Gawd, Howie, you really are a spittle-spraying jerk and idiot.

      Let me spell it out for you:

      1. He didn’t commit mass murder in the name of Gold’s Gym. He did it, as he explained, for white people and against blacks, and under the confederate flag.

      2. The Gold’s Gym logo was not, historically, taken up as the anti-civil-rights symbol in that era. The confederate flag was EXPLICITLY taken up and spread as a racist, anti-black, pro-segregation symbol.

      3. The Gold’s Gym logo is not used currently as the symbol of racist white supremacists, the KKK and other violent, unsavory knuckle-draggers.

  5. They haven’t gotten to the movies or books … yet.

    The iTunes store has multiple results when searching for n****r; that’s ok? Do they plan to address racial slurs in songs also? What about songs denigrating women?

    Apparently not very well thought out.

      1. This is one more example of how Cook has been dumbing down Apple software & services since he was anointed. Apple is taking its eye off the ball, letting designers and gay rights activists run the show instead of engineers and tech experts.

        It’s about time that Apple fans take a good look at how easily walled garden platforms can change from great marketplaces to watered-down flea markets.

        Does anybody really want Apple to be the “curator” of good taste? Its music offerings are full of offensive crap.

  6. The only legitimate way to counter bad speech, is more and better speech.

    By censoring stuff you only serve to embitter and alienate those with opposing views.

    By conversing with those you disagree with, you avail yourself of the only opportunity to actually change their hearts and minds. And maybe make friend along the way.

    The hypocrisy pointed out in this article is why Apple needs to act with deliberate and careful thought.

    Not throw an emotional temper tantrum like a four year old in need of a nap.

    An acceptable way of approaching this would have been to go thru the apps, one by one, make the developers justify the use of the flag, for those who can’t, pull the app.

    Sure the process will take a few weeks, but it’s fair, legit, and really, the Apple way of doing business.

    They could even pull the apps all upfront, but put out a statement of “We have temporarily pulled these apps to screen them for content, they will be back shortly if they abide by our standards and their developers will be compensated for their time not in the App Store. If you see one we missed, like all the Nazi stuff we didn’t even think about, let us know.”.

  7. Knee jerk reaction, and to think this is all because of some guy Dylan Roof who posed with the confederate flag then murdered a bunch of people.

    Thing is though, that the confederate flag is from a different country than the swastika and we know how some countries value their appearance a lot more than their actual substance.

    I wonder if pirate flags will be next.

    Actually is there any national flag that does not have some nasty stigma attached to it?

      1. I was thinking of Sealand as well when I wrote the post, but it’s been invaded. Hmmm a patch of dessert between Sudan and Egypt with a peaceful flag. I wonder how long that will last but yup, I think that’s a contender, thanks BlackWolf.

  8. Apple have totally crossed the line where they do not belong:
    “Censorship rules are especially problematic as tech companies become the dominate channels for free speech. Ultimately, tech companies are powerful new gatekeepers of the 1st Amendment; their decisions have profound implications.”
    Not that anyone likely will give much bother about, but this is a serious issue that has me in a dilemma concerning should I divest myself from ownership in a company of this ilk
    Happy trails

  9. and why are we leaving out “old glory” from the list of forbidden fruit??

    slavery in the united states, and all of its horrors, certainly predated the civil war.

    our connivery against and war upon the native americans in pursuit of our “manifest destiny” is another black spot on our ledger.

    thank mr. hearst for ginning up the spanish american war

    how about agent orange?

    abu ghraib – or however it is spelled….

    enhanced interrogation….

    warrantless and wholesale collection of electronic communication, not just at home but worldwide.

    it is a long list, way more than this… assuming we are willing to take a long and hard and honest look at ourselves.

    plenty of hypocrisy to go around…. and come around.

    criticism is not a bad thing, but political correctness is a disease of the body politic. i think it does more harm than good.

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