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Confederate Flags Should Go. Accurate History Should Stay.


Peggy Noonan writes about the two miracles that came out of Charleston last week. The first is the forgiveness offered by the family of the nine victims who were murdered at their church by a racist who wanted to start a race war. The second miracle is how his wish didn’t just fail to be realized but was denied. She discusses the decision to begin the process of removing the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds.

The media didn’t really know how to handle either miracle. They covered the statements of the family members but they certainly didn’t linger on them. And that was despite how tremendously riveting and and out-of-this-world their statements were. As for the second, the media quickly moved on to hounding retailers to stop selling anything associated with the Civil War and discovering, for the first time in their lives, apparently, that some streets in New York are named after Robert E. Lee and that there are monuments to him and other Civil War figures throughout the land.

The media and various activists seemed incapable of understanding the distinction between a flag flying currently on state grounds and the removal of all evidence of that flag or the men who fought under it in the public square, private markets and museums.

Yesterday we learned that “Apple Removes All American Civil War Games From the App Store Because of the Confederate Flag.

CNN wrote that Andrew Mulholland of HexWar games said:

“It seems disappointing that they would remove it as they weren’t being used in an offensive way,” wrote Mulholland. “They were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time…. We’re in no way sympathetic to the use of the flag in an offensive way; we used it purely because historically that was the flag that was used at the time.”

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center “voluntarily” removed all Confederate flag items after National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis “asked” them to.

Amy Curtis noticed that Google has extremely selective outrage when it comes to selling anything associated with regimes that enslave and oppress. You can’t buy anything at all using the search term “Confederate flag” but you can shop to your hearts content with the search terms “Nazi flag,” “Che shirt,” and “Stalin onesie.”

As I warned a few days ago, “we are slowly forgetting how to dislike something without seeking its utter destruction.”

The makers of Ultimate General: Gettysburg responded to Apple’s decision with surprising calm:

We accept Apple’s decision and understand that this is a sensitive issue for the American Nation. We wanted our game to be the most accurate, historical, playable reference of the Battle of Gettysburg. All historical commanders, unit composition and weaponry, key geographical locations to the smallest streams or farms are recreated in our game’s battlefield.

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. We really hope that Apple’s decision will achieve the desired results.

They’re right. Apple is still selling “Gettysburg,” the movie, on iTunes, which shows their policy to be oddly inconsistent. The image used to sell the movie even has a flag right there above the purchase button. The movie “Glory” is also sold, despite its proliferation of Confederate flags and an ending (spoiler alert!) where the Rebels win.

Another friend writes:

Regarding the Spielberg reference in the game makers’ response: It is true that Spielberg did not mute Nazi references.

But it can happen. When NBC did a live network performance of Sound of Music a couple years ago, the actors eliminated reference to Hitler. The villains greeted each other with “Heil!” and then the fascist arm raise. But no reference to Hitler in the salute.

That’s not only historically inaccurate. It’s just imbecilic.

In fact, by pulling that punch, you’ve gone from sanitization to complicity. You are party to a symbolic representation that strips people of concrete knowledge about the central character of one of the only universally-acknowledged evil movements in history.

Historical accuracy is not an endorsement of atavism. It is a reminder that freedom is always in danger and requires not just vigilance but knowledge and discernment to defend.

And what could be more atavistic, tribal, backwards and uncivilized than tearing down and destroying all signs and memories of your (perceived) enemy?

Taking down Confederate flags from public positions of honor is right and good (and long overdue). Revising history by removing evidence of the Confederacy from museums, stores, public grounds, games, and the private square is actually at odds with that worthy goal. We must learn the history of the Confederacy so that we may remain an undivided union, focused on self-government and liberty. Even more narrowly, consider that two armies fought at Gettysburg. Removing the Confederates from the equation dishonors the Union forces who won a decisive victory and caused a major turning point in a war. Their bravery and sacrifice has effected each and every one of us. This legendary battle deserves to be told accurately and honestly. Leave the moral panics aside.