I've e-mailed Linden Lab three times about the sale of Confederate flag items in its official Second Life Marketplace (which I blogged about last week), but have still not received any kind of reply. At this point I'm forced to conclude Linden Lab is declining to address the issue -- either publicly, or in the Marketplace itself, where Confederate flag items are still quite easy to find and buy, both through searches of "Confederate" and "rebel flag". This is disappointing for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that the flag was, in fact, created and enshrined as a symbol of white supremacy, meant in great part to intimidate African-Americans:
[I]t's not a coincidence that white Southerners were embracing the Confederate battle flag just as the South's system of violently enforced white supremacy was under its first real threat since Reconstruction. President Truman had vowed to do more to promote civil rights, integrating the military and telling the NAACP that civil rights could not wait.
In response, the Ku Klux Klan surged. Southern politicians displayed the Confederate battle flag when they railed against Truman. College students who supported Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign in 1948 waved Confederate flags at campaign events.
The civil rights movement didn't change the flag's meaning — it simply made the hate underlying the heritage more explicit. After the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, white Southerners used the Confederate flag to intimidate civil rights activists and demonstrate states' willingness to protect segregation at all costs. The flag no longer represented just a 19th-century battle to preserve white supremacy, but a 20th-century one as well.
The KKK waved the Confederate flag. So did the Citizens' Councils, white supremacist groups of prominent and successful people who opposed integration. White mobs at the University of Alabama carried Confederate flags when they threw rocks at Autherine Lucy, the university's first black student, before the university decided to expel her rather than protect her. Mobs fighting to protect segregated schools wore Confederate flags in Little Rock and New Orleans and Austin and Birmingham.
And again, compare this next to Linden Lab's own Community Standards in Second Life:
Intolerance Combating intolerance is a cornerstone of Second Life's Community Standards. Actions that marginalize, belittle, or defame individuals or groups inhibit the satisfying exchange of ideas and diminish the Second Life community as a whole. The use of derogatory or demeaning language or images in reference to another Resident's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is never allowed in Second Life. [Emph. mine]
By contrast, while the Second Life Marketplace has a number of Nazi-related items (mainly WWII-era props), there does seem to be a concerted campaign by Linden Lab to remove the Nazi flag itself from the store:
Hundreds of hits mostly related to the Confederate flag; none for the Nazi swastika
It's long been established that the Nazi's flag is a symbol of hate largely used to intimidate the victims of the party's policies -- over 70 years, in fact. We have known (or should have known) about the Confederate battle flag's similar usage for about as long. And as major company after major company finally changes its policies against that flag accordingly, it remains a mystery why Linden Lab has not even addressed the topic -- even when it runs directly counter to its stated ideals.
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