Did the clock just strike 13, or are we now in the middle of some interminable national conversation about all the things we’d like to ban? It started with the Confederate flag, a controversial emblem to be sure. The Scrapbook is not opposed to removing the flag as an official state symbol. But there is something unseemly, to say the least, in the rush by institutions and corporations and lawmakers to use the horrific murder of nine worshipers at a black church in Charleston by a racist psychopath as the occasion for social justice theater. The effect this will have in reducing racism, let alone blunting violent impulses, is non-existent. And dare we say it? To the extent such crimes are motivated in part by a sick desire for the spotlight, last week’s cascade of crazy might even be counterproductive.
Retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, and eBay—spurred by activist media calling them for comment—have decided not to sell any more Confederate-themed merchandise. (Despite this, you can still buy all manner of Communist and Nazi regalia at their sites.) Warner Brothers announced it will no longer license Dukes of Hazzard merchandise with the Confederate flag. New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick decreed “Gone with the Wind should go the way of the Confederate flag.” The Senate majority leader called for the statue of Jefferson Davis to be taken down from his native Kentucky’s capitol. Students at the University of Texas at Austin called for the removal of their Jefferson Davis statue.
Apple removed a slew of Civil War video games from its app store. Many of these games strive for historical accuracy. And again, there are World War II video games, especially what they call “first-person shooter” games, that allow you to play from the perspective of a Nazi. The makers of the game Ultimate General: Gettysburg issued a useful statement—
We receive a lot of letters of gratitude from American teachers who use our game in history curriculum to let kids experience one of the most important battles in American history from the Commander’s perspective.
Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” did not try to amend his movie to look more comfortable. The historical “Gettysburg” movie (1993) is still on iTunes. We believe that all historical art forms: books, movies, or games such as ours, help to learn and understand history, depicting events as they were. True stories are more important to us than money.
Therefore we are not going to amend the game’s content and Ultimate General: Gettysburg will no longer be available on AppStore.
When the makers of video games come off as voices of thoughtful and uncompromising reason in the face of political hysteria, things have truly run off the rails.