A month ago, Etsy.com, a handmade and unique items marketplace, announced its decision to remove all items from its marketplace that contained the image of the Confederate flag. They joined others like of WalMart and Amazon in the eradication of the symbol from their offerings.
“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.” Bonnie Broeren Etsy Policy Team
I was contacted by a vendor who uses Etsy and was appalled by the “bullying tactics” employed by Etsy to enforce compliance. He requested to be kept anonymous out of respect for his customers amid threats from Etsy to entirely shut him down and remove ALL of his products from the marketplace. As a small business owner, he fully respects Etsy’s right to refuse service, or access to their site for certain products, just as he reserves the same right in his own business. The issue for him is the threats to his entire business as well as the inconsistent application of the company’s own policies.
According to Etsy’s “Hate Items” policy they recognize that not everyone sees things the same way.
“We tend to allow items that have educational, historical, or artistic value, but we know that even those items are subject to a variety of valid and sometimes conflicting interpretations.”
So, by Etsy’s own standards let us examine the “Confederate” flag, the battle flag not the actual flag of the Confederate States of America. It is obviously historical and considering the controversial debate that has ensued since Etsy and others banned the sale of its likeness, there would seem to be an educational component that is much needed as well. You could argue that it is a very attractive and appealing design as well, making it well suited for many artistic applications. All of which, according to Etsy’s policy would make it an allowable item despite the conflicting interpretations of it.
The confederate flag has always held mixed views and reactions. The Confederate battle flag and Confederate Navy Jack was the historical flag used by Confederate Army and Navy units during the civil war, not the actual national flag of the Confederacy. Some see the flag as a symbol of racism and slavery, yet the vast majority of men who fought under that flag were not slave owners and many of them were black freemen in the South fighting for the national sovereignty of their Confederacy. Of course, Etsy, Amazon, WalMart and others don’t seem to care about the actual history or education and merely the politically correct wind currents to protect their bottom line. Although I have not heard any of the major corporations announce that they would be returning the BILLIONS of dollars they have made over the years sell all these “hateful” items.
After all, you can still purchase t-shirts on Etsy today with the actual first national flag of the Confederacy (The Stars and Bars) boldly emblazoned upon it.
Of course, Etsy’s “Hate Items” policy also allows for “Items denouncing or mocking groups or historical figures that have a history of organized, targeted violence against protected groups.” Example: Anti-Nazi merchandise or this non-hateful little Civil War related gem.
The confederate battle flag is an important part of our history, not because it stood for slavery and oppression, but because it stood for the rebellion of the Confederate States against tyranny and oppression from United States led by the states in the north. That is why many, if not most, people refer to it as a “rebel flag” to this day. The civil war pitted brother against brother. Many people died in this war for what they believed in. Although slavery was abolished because of this war, it was only one issue that led to the secession of the South and the war that followed. Many would argue that slavery was not even the main issue and considering the fact that slavery was abolished in the South years before it was abolished in the North would seem to support that.
Just to be clear, which particular Confederate flag is so offensive that it should be banned from the marketplace?