Online retailers are joining brick-and-mortar giants like Wal-Mart and Kmart to ban sales of products that bear the Confederate flag, amid a public debate about the flag’s controversial symbolism after last week’s deadly attack on a South Carolina church.
The decision to restrict the sale of the Civil War-era battle flag, seen by many as an emblem of slavery and systemic racial oppression, also coincides with the moves by state governments in South Carolina and Virginia to remove the flag from official use, after Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist shot and killed nine people. Roof displayed the flag in an online image.
“We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags, and many items containing this image, because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” eBay said in a statement, adding that it has a ”long-standing policy that prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence and racial intolerance.”
Reuters reports that Amazon has also taken the decision to stop selling products with the controversial flag, though it is not clear whether it will also ban third-party sellers from selling Confederate-branded items. In the hours before Amazon announced its ban, users took to the site’s comments section to compare it to the Nazi swastika. But Amazon sales of Confederate merchandise also skyrocketed by 3000% before the ban, as buyers rushed to stock up on an emblem that, according to politicians across the ideological spectrum, “belongs in a museum.”