Confederate Flag Debate: Amazon, eBay To Ban Sales Of Flag-related Merchandise
Following last week’s mass shooting in a historical black church in South Carolina, an incident where nine people were killed, several U.S. businesses including Google, eBay and Amazon have announced that they will ban the sales of Confederate flag-related merchandise.
Sears and Kmart have joined Walmart in pulling the plug off the sales of merchandise bearing the image of the controversial flag, which to some is a symbol of racism and hate, while to others is a tribute to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War.
The decision comes after several pictures of Dylann Roof, the accused who fatally shot nine African Americans in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, waving the Confederate flag surfaced following his arrest.
On Monday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the flag from the capitol grounds.
“This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” she said in a public announcement. Her announcement was supported by leaders like Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Meanwhile, Walmart spokesman Brian Nick said, “We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our web site. We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly — this is one of those instances.”
According to CNN, a spokesperson for Amazon said that the online retailer would also take the Confederate flag merchandise off its shelves.
The sentiment was echoed in the statements issued by eBay and Etsy.
eBay spokesman Johnna Hoff said, “We believe [the flag] has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism. This decision is consistent with our long-standing policy that prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence and racial intolerance.”
Etsy, on the other hand, said in its statement, “Today, we are removing Confederate flag items from our marketplace. Etsy’s policies prohibit items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred and these items fall squarely into that category.”
Running a search for Confederate flag on the Amazon website returned with results of tens of thousands of products such as T-shirts and knives bearing the flag’s image. However, clicking on some of these merchandises returned the users to an error page.
According to abc.net.au, David Satterfield, an executive vice-president of GF Blunting and Co, a strategic communications firm in California, said, “Is this a big sacrifice for retailers? No. But, symbolically, it’s a good step. A significant percentage of your consumer base is completely offended by what the flag stands for, and it doesn’t make sense carrying it.”
According to CNET, Amazon and eBay had been selling merchandise bearing the image of the Confederate flag for a long time. They continue to sell products that have Nazi symbols. On the other hand, eBay allows sales of Nazi-related symbols as long as it does not offend anyone.
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