Apple has joined in the widespread backlash against the Confederate flag, apparently removing iOS games that include the symbol from the iTunes App Store.
As Touch Arcade reports, that includes everything featuring the flag, including games such as Ultimate General: Gettysburg and other apps that concern the actual U.S. Civil War. Apple is reportedly telling developers that their games include “images of the confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways,” even for games whose focus is on historical accuracy.
Apple’s also not alone in the decision: Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears are all retailers that are putting a stop to selling Confederate flag merchandise following a racially motivated shooting last week that claimed the lives of nine African-American church-goers in Charleston, S.C.
Apple is free to sell (or not sell) whatever it wants in its own app marketplace. But the company routinely exercises exactly one solution to any sort of controversy: to ban it, often in a completely arbitrary and unpredictable way. Apple’s stance against any games that include sex, for example, is pretty well known, and the company has previously booted games such as Phone Story, a title that took a critical look at the overseas factories smartphone companies use to create their products. Apple isn’t super supportive of things on its store that trade in nuance.
Still, the App Store, despite Apple’s curation, can often be a wretched hive of scum and villainy. While a few legitimate, historical items might have been sucked into the engine, it’s far more likely that Apple was inundated with awful Confederate flag controversy cash-ins. Hard to blame them for crushing those in one fell swoop, especially if they then turn around and let the good ones back in over time, which they may well do.