Since the racist radical Dylann Roof took nine lives at a South Carolina church, politicians and businesses have banded together to condemn the racist symbolism behind the Confederate flag.
As of this morning, Apple has begun purging any app that shows the flag, no matter the context in which it's being used. Games like Ultimate General: Gettysburg and the Civil War series have been purged from the App Store, simply for displaying the Confederate flag as part of the narrative of the games, which are historically accurate and take place during the Civil War.
In our rush to course-correct toward the right side of history, we can't just scrub away the evidence of America's racist past.
Apple sent a note to developers of the games, saying the apps were removed due to "images of the Confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways," according to TouchArcade. But the developers argued that their games do not promote or endorse Confederate beliefs or values, even though it is possible to play as Confederate soldiers; the games show the flag as part of an educational and informative view of American history.
"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," Civil War game creator Andrew Mulholland told Kotaku in an email. According to BuzzFeed, developers like Mulholland would have to entirely replace the Confederate flag with some other icon if they want their game back in the App Store.
Censorship gone one step too far: There is a difference between the decision to proudly display a symbol of racism or profit from selling its memorabilia, and a historical game that shows the image in its true context. By this rationale, Apple could stop selling educational apps and eBooks that teach lessons about the Civil War because they also display the Confederate flag.
Games and apps are a vital and powerful tool that teach today's younger generations about political history. In our rush to course-correct toward the right side of history, we can't just scrub away the evidence of America's racist past.
It's a hypocritical move: After all, Apple is obviously comfortable with the misogyny of the Grand Theft Auto series, the grotesque violence in the Doom games and, most incredibly, the display of Nazi symbols, including the swastika, in games like Wolfenstein (see above).
If Apple is going to become indiscriminate censors, it should at least be consistent.