Roof, a home grown terrorist and white supremacist, allegedly entered the church during prayer meeting, attended services for about an hour, then opened fire killing nine and wounding a tenth. He was quickly identified and apprehended and is currently awaiting trial.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, focus shifted to the Confederate flag flying on the state capitol grounds. See, after the shooting, all flags on the grounds were lowered to half-mast to honor the dead, except for the Confederate battle flag which flies, not on the capitol building, but on its grounds nearby. There were two reasons this flag was not lowered: it was forbidden by law for the flag to be altered in anyway without permission of the General assembly, and more importantly, it was affixed directly to the pole: It could not be lowered without someone shimmying up there and doing it by hand.
Regardless, of the reasons, it looked bad, and once again raised concerns about public displays of the Confederate flag. This picture of Roof didn't help either:
|On a side note: Once the flag controversy is over, |
I expect calls for the closure of Gold's Gym. Oh wait.
|Pictured: Items that are apparently not symbols of racial hatred and thus readily available for purchase.|
Apple has banned the display of the Confederate flag on all apps, including historically accurate strategy games about the Civil War. EBay has followed suit, though admittedly, its banning-bot could use a bit of a tune-up.
|Pictured: eBay's idea of a Confederate flag.|
The Emperor is pleased that the site saw fit to ban this.
|Some day the censors might get'em, but the law never will.|
As a Southern writer and as a scholar of Southern culture and literature, I watched this new development with a close eye. After all, much of my fiction takes place in the South. I have even, in recent years considered writing a story set during the antebellum, Civil War, and/or Reconstruction eras. Before June 17th, it would be perfectly reasonable to employ the flag on the cover of such a book.
While I support the rights of a private business to determine what it will or will not sell, I feared that Amazon would, like Warner Brothers, fail to take context into account and rely instead on a blind knee-jerk reaction. However, several quick Amazon searches performed sporadically over the last few weeks have revealed that, at least for now, covers are not affected.
Until I began researching for this very post. Last week, Pennsylvania historian, Michael Dreese discovered that This Flag Never Goes Down, his book discussing the Confederate battle flag's role in the battle of Gettysburg, had been removed from Amazon's virtual shelves. While Amazon has apparently reinstated the book, it is not clear whether this marks a permanent reinstatement or a temporary reprieve until Amazon's August 22 deadline to remove a Confederate merchandise from it's store.
Here's my problem with such draconian measures. Leaving aside the reality that simply removing a flag does absolutely nothing to solve the very real racial tensions in this country other than to provide a palliative Band-Aid to an amputated limb, arbitrarily forbidding an image on a book cover undermines the integrity of both author and audience.
It tells authors that they are unable to determine for themselves what constitutes fair use of an image. There are several instances where the Confederate flag may, in fact, be the perfect image for a particular book: A novel about the South during the War, for instance. Shall we have a boy in gray waving Old Glory instead of the Stars and Bars? Perhaps if there is a story in which the protagonist takes on the KKK, we should have an image of a clansman waving the Stars and Stripes.
|Because, you know, that flag has never been used to further a racist agenda.|
And the same symbol used as literary shorthand:
or as a historical reference:
It is also an insult to those who suffered from the tragedy in Charleston: It tells them that their pain and anguish can easily be ameliorated by simply taking some books off a shelf and removing a few video games. Banning the swastika in Germany did not eradicate racism there; dictating what I can or cannot put on the cover of my book without regard for context or authorial intent will similarly not prevent other terrorist killings. Indeed, it hasn't.
|I do, however, think that with a little tweaking, |
we can get The Dukes of Hazzard back on the air.