Amazon and eBay ban confederate merchandise

The people you were deeply offending back then, were that sophisticated, back then.

You can’t go back and apologize. I also see you also aren’t here for that, today. So, good luck with that obvious lack of baggage you don’t have.

I understand and agree, at least in principle, and I have no problem with giant, market-dominating zaibatsus like Amazon choosing what they buy and sell.

But I don’t believe Amazon and eBay are taking any sort of moral stance here. I think they did the math and calculated that they’d make more profit from the free advertising they get by banning confederate merch than they’d get by continuing to carry it. It’s just a Fight Club formula.

And I suspect the tired, footsore people I see walking to work at Amazon every morning (apparently they can’t afford cars on Amazon wages, nor can they afford to live closer to Amazon’s local satanic mill) would be a little skeptical of the idea that Amazon cares about social issues to the exclusion of profit, but I also suspect they can’t openly say so if they expect to retain their jobs.

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You say that as though I disagree with you, or like I think that isn’t obviously true?

Well, it appears as though, perhaps, your suspicion is all it takes to rouse your indifference. Sorry it makes you uncomfortable. Your skepticism is noted, but I’m not sure these folks have made the arguments you’re swatting at.

They decided not to do it. I have no problem with a KKK bookstore not selling Howard Zinn, so…

I thought the general American consensus on the issue of how to honor veterans was to always “Support Our Troops” even if you don’t support the war? Wouldn’t it be logical to afford the same kind of honor to the people who fought for slavery as to the people who fought for stealing Iraq’s oil and destabilizing the entire region?

I prefer memorials for dead soldiers that don’t condone/glorify/etc. what they were fighting for. Rather than celebrating them for being “heroes”, it involves pitying them for having fallen victim to a collective madness that made them want to kill people flying a different scrap of cloth. And, of course, those memorials don’t feature any flags.

Given some aspects of US foreign policy, “The American flag is the symbol of freedom and democracy” is beginning to sound like “Actually, it’s all about ethics in government”.

But - good news: The US flag doesn’t need to stand for Freedom and Democracy. It stands for the United States of America. America has done a few bad things, but America has also made great contributions to the cause of freedom and democracy, so Americans get to be proud of that. And it’s a nice place with lots of nice people. That should really be enough.

A flag always stands for the entirety of the people that gather under it. The people themselves don’t get a say in what the flag means, only in what they do. (Guess what that says about the confederate flag…)

Were you agreeing, or were you stating that my position is so much different from yours that you find it ridiculous? It must be the former. Because the latter would be ridiculous ;-).

Nononononono… I am agreeing with you, and I am not indifferent! I apologize if my cynicism caused me to come off that way.

I do think that when corporations effectively own government, to the point where they write legislation and it is passed despite the opposition of the majority of citizens, we need to be very very careful about saying “corporations don’t have to follow the same rules as government”. But I don’t think the remedy for such situations is to force Amazon to allow objectionable speech, instead I think the remedy is to vigorously dismantle any corporation large and powerful enough to override representative government.

Is that what happened here?

Whatever you say, boss.

That does sounds like a more worthwhile sort of memorial, but I don’t recall ever seeing one. Can you point us to one or more, please?

No, they’re not allowed to stop. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE CENSORSHIP!

And you are not allowed to stop, either. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE CENSORSHIP!

So, keep posting, citizen. We are watching you.

Right now.

Start typing.



I already was typing, we were both typing… we were typing… in stereo.



In fairness, the rising sun flag is still actively used by the current state in only a slightly altered form for their self-defense forces. It goes back to the Edo period and it was not representative of a complete ideology in the same way the Nazi or Confederate flags were. At most, it represents an empire, and Japan still has an emporer. When used by the Japanese far-right it’s more like skinhead-appropriated Celtic symbolism, since it still has connotations of luck and prosperity in Japanese culture.

The Soviet flag also represents more than just Stalin-style oppression. That flag was around for a while after him, and represents, at least in principle, workers and communism rather than purges and censorship. I just feel like the comparisons are weak. It’s kind of like pretending the American flag unambiguously represents NSA eavesdropping. And trust me when I say that a lot of people the world over find the American flag offensive.


Don’t know if there are any in America, the “normal” level of military hero-worship is quite different from what I’m used to in Austria.

Our war memorials were often built sometime after WW1, and sometimes more names were added after WW2. They are often found on graveyards. Every small village has one.

But I’d basically nominate three categories:

1. The traditional ones. The political left doesn’t like these. The problem with them: They still have language referring to the dead soldiers as “heroes” on them. I still nominate them because the “hero-worship” is still very low-key by American standards, and because the vast majority of the people passing the memorial don’t feel the kind of militaristic pride that might originally have been intended.

Church wall in Dorf an der Pram, Austria, a village with 234 inhabitants. The inscription in the center means “To the honor of our heroes”; the slabs on the left contain the names of fallen (“Gefallene”) and missing (“Vermisste”) WW2 soldiers; WW1 is on the right.

2. The neutral ones.

This one in Bad Waltersdorf, Austria (Pop. 963). The text reads “World War.”; “The parish of Bad Waltersdorf to its victims”; “Errected 1921”, and then a list of names.

3. The anti-war ones. The political right doesn’t like these.

A memorial in Vienna for the heroes who died as soldiers of the Wehrmacht. Yes, they were heroes. Their superior officers disagreed, though. This is a memorial for deserters and other victims of NS military justice.


Not to my knowledge, nor did I say it did. C’mon, work with me here.

Others in this conversation were pointing out that when a small group of corporate entities completely dominates a market channel, they are able to suppress expression within that channel in ways that would be a violation of free speech rights if the US government did it.

If we are going to elect morons who will hand over all our governmental functions to corporations, which seems to be the case since TPA and TPP and ACA and the Cheney Nuke Rules were all literally written by non-governmental bodies, then we should probably start thinking now about how that will warp our ability to exercise our rights.

I have no attachment to the confederate battle flag, or the “loser flag” as I like to call it. I don’t care if other people can buy it, because that lets me know who the losers are before they show up with a flaming cross on my lawn. Nonetheless I think the people who are making these points about freedom of expression have a valid concern. And again, I would prefer to solve the problem by going all George Washington and castrating the corporations, rather than forcing businesses to sell things they don’t want to. If the market was actually regulated by representative government for the benefit of society, none of this would matter.

But there is no such small group of corporate entities. You are arguing potential theory, which is correct, as far as gedankenexperiments and noodly navel-gazing goes. Absolutely correct for the noodles. Not reflectively of our current market realities whatsoever.

You can still get Confederate flags on Alibaba, for example:

You can even get “real” confederate flags:

You can even get them eco-friendly:

Some of them are… questionable:

I daresay that there will still be a thriving culture of people selling these flags at flea markets, gun-shows, sporting events, unlicensed sidewalk vendors, pop-up Canal-street storefronts, back-alley Chinatown markets and the like. All of these micro-channels exist today independently of such a theoretical small group of corporate entities, but would be subject to government suppression is such suppression occured. So, there’s an argument against the noodly navel-gazing theorists.

I can’t force anyone else to think about trends and possibilities if they don’t want to.

(off topic: Do you buy stuff from Alibaba? I’m in the USA, so I don’t. I would have no legal recourse if I got ripped off.)

I have not bought anything from Alibaba, but ain’t I curious?

Alibaba is supposed to have a pretty good payment escrow system, but it’s generally business-to-business, so that’s just hearsay.

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That feels like a straw-man misrepresentation of my position, even though you didn’t aim it at me specifically.

It’s not about forcing people to “profit from racism”. It’s not about laws at all.

The people running companies like Amazon or eBay are human beings whose actions are constrained by their material interests, and, hopefully, by their ethics.

Some people adhere to an ethical rule (A) that says: “If you provide a public service that is mostly a good thing, and some people use it for bad things, then you should feel bad about it”.
I prefer the ethical rule (B) that says: “If you provide a public service that is mostly a good thing, you should provide it to everyone and refrain from judging.”

I’m no more calling for “forcing” the management of Amazon and eBay to sell stuff they despise than you are calling for “forcing” them to stop selling stuff you despise. Following rule (A) or rule (B) is the management’s choice, and we get to approve or disapprove of that choice.

But I do claim that everyone following rule (B) will lead to a more open and pleasant society than everyone following rule (A).
I claim that rule (A) will either breed conformism or it will foster a polarized two-party society, where there are right-wing companies with right-wing employees selling right-wing products, and left-wing companies with left-wing employees selling left-wing products to left-wing customers.

i have a lot of mixed feelings about all of the issues surrounding the different uses of the confederate battle flag. some of this stems from family experiences and some stems from my belief in the first amendment. i think that official state uses of the confederate battle flag should be ended immediately. for the most part they came up during the “massive resistance” phase of southern states’ defiance of various supreme court decisions and executive agency rules changes requiring the integration of schools, buses, restaurants and other public accommodations. they symbolize hostility to the idea of the equality of the races* put into place by the governments of southern states and municipalities. no state government nor city government should be allowed to put such a symbol up in the public sphere. private individuals have the right to freedom of speech and expression and should be allowed to make whatever political statement they wish to no matter how ridiculous or even evil we as individuals may find the expression to be. i further think that eliminating games which simulate the battle of gettysburg because it has a confederate battle flag on its description is as silly as eliminating a game simulating the battle of the bulge because it had a nazi flag on it.

whether some of you believe it or not many people in the south are so brainwashed by the constant repetition of the phrase “heritage not hate” and so indoctrinated by the standard textbooks about the civil war as it taught in the south (and was taught out of the south as well for many years) that they really do believe that the confederate battle flag can be used without referencing its history as the flag of the slave-holding, anti-black force that was the confederate states of america. knowing that i had ancestors that fought for the confederacy i have studied the civil war since i was a teenager and one of the first things i noticed when i began reading the various states’ articles of secession was that they all brought slavery front and center. they didn’t beat around the bush with mealymouthed platitudes about states’ rights they went straight to he point that they were leaving because they thought slavery was threatened. once i learned that i spent the next four decades arguing with my school teachers about it, arguing with college professors about it, and arguing with some of my coworkers about it (i’m a school teacher in texas). i have disappointed my mother because i have consistently refused to become a member of the sons of the confederacy. i have any number of friends and relatives who buy into the whole “heritage not hate” thing" without any thought for how african-americans might see it or how anyone from outside of the south might see it and will feel unselfconsciously aggrieved at what is happening now. some of them are truly racist while others aren’t.

it is well past time that these flags come down they do not represent what they are purported to represent and it is an intolerable symbol for a government to display.

*it is my belief that race is a social construct with no more inherent meaning than freckles or red hair. it is one of the greatest disappointments of my 54 years on this planet that race is still so divisive.


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