Major American retailers are always in fierce competition, usually in the hopes of being first. But as we’re seeing this week, when it comes to selling controversial, racially charged merchandise, no one wants to be the last store selling offensive materials.
As msnbc’s Joy Y. Wang reports, merchandise bearing Confederate flag imagery “will soon get harder to find.”
Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, will no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise, the company announced in a statement on Monday. Retail company Sears Holding Corp, which operates Kmart and Sears department stores, also said it would remove Confederate flag items sold on its website via third parties, a spokesman told Reuters.And Amazon confirmed on Tuesday that they too are pulling Confederate flag items.
There was a point this afternoon at which the list grew at a surprising pace. Walmart and Sears got the ball rolling late yesterday, but this afternoon Amazon joined the club, pulling its Confederate merchandise. Then eBay made the same announcement. Then etsy joined in.
Then Valley Forge Flag, described by Reuters as one of the nation’s most prominent flag makers, announced it will stop making and selling Confederate flags.
Remember, no one wants to be last. No corporate p.r. office wants to field this question from a journalist: “Most major American retailers have pulled their Confederate merchandise; can you explain why these controversial materials are still on your shelves?”
All of these retailers, by the way, made the decision despite the fact that some consumers, for reasons I won’t try to understand, have been buying Confederate merchandise in droves over the last couple of days. The companies, to their credit, are effectively leaving money on the table rather than being associated with racially charged materials.
And if all of this weren’t quite enough to ruin the day of Confederate admirers, the news from some state governments won’t make them feel any better.
South Carolina is moving forward with its plans to remove the Confederate battle flag from its capitol grounds, and a leading Mississippi official is ready to do the same. In Virginia, meanwhile, NBC News confirms that the state’s Confederate license plate will soon be no more.
Virginia will start phasing out license plates with the Confederate flag — a move that follows a shooting massacre in South Carolina and the ensuing debate over a lingering symbol which for many is associated with painful memories of slavery.The decision, announced during an event Tuesday by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, also comes on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that Texas cannot be required to allow the Confederate flag on car license plates. McAuliffe called the symbolism of the flag “unnecessarily divisive and hurtful.”
Tennessee may soon do the same, though Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has said he’s not open to changing his state’s Confederate plates.
The position is newly relevant, not only because of last week’s massacre in Charleston, but also because of this recent Supreme Court ruling.