Apple joined Walmart, Amazon, eBay and other retailers in their efforts to ban the Confederate flag from merchandise by taking down most apps that boasted the symbol from the iTunes App Store. Creators of Civil War-based strategy games like Ultimate General: Gettysburg and Civil War: 1862 discovered that their apps had been removed suddenly from the Apple marketplace.
“We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines,” an Apple spokesperson told BuzzFeed. “We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses.” Apps like the History Channel’s The Civil War Today and The Battle of Antietam remain available on the App Store, but most smartphone games bearing the Confederate flag were removed, Ars Technica writes, along with apps that promised Confederate flag wallpaper for cellphones.
Ultimate General: Gettysburg developer Nick Thomadis wrote on the game’s official site about the app’s removal, claiming that Ultimate General: Gettysburg could be viewed as educational under Apple’s guidelines. “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,” Thomadis wrote. While Apple said it was working with some developers to have their games reinstated on the App Store – presumably without Confederate flag – Thomadis said he would not conform Ultimate General: Gettysburg to Apple’s demands.
“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,” Thomadis wrote. “Therefore, we are not going to amend the game’s content and Ultimate General: Gettysburg will no longer be available on App Store. We really hope that Apple’s decision will achieve the desired results. We can’t change history, but we can change the future.”
Apple is the latest company to ban images of the Confederate flag. Earlier this month, the South Carolina government banned the symbol after it was flaunted by Dylann Roof, the man arrested for the Charleston church shooting that left nine dead. Following that tragedy and the debate over the Confederate flag, Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted, “My thoughts are with the victim’s families in SC. Let us honor their lives by eradicating racism & removing the symbols & words that feed it.”