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Apple store readmits Civil War strategy game featuring Confederate flag

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

As the United States wrestles over what public display, if any, is appropriate for the flag of those who made war on the nation 150 years ago, Apple is relaxing a hardline posture and readmitting some games that made historical use of confederate symbology.

Ultimate General: Gettysburg has rejoined the iTunes app store. This week Apple began removing apps using "the Confederate flag in an offensive or mean-spirited ways." That sweep caught this game, among others, which is a strategy title depicting one of the most consequential battles of the American civil war of 1861 to 1865.

Game-Labs, the game's developer, said "several late-night phone calls" with Apple helped restore the game to the service. Originally it had said it would not alter its content, saying that "true stories are more important to us than money."

Objectionable nationalist symbols are not a new controversy in video game. The Wolfenstein series, notably, has had to edit out depictions of Nazi symbology for its release in regions where such displays are prohibited by law. Games that have mistakenly included or failed to remove those symbols have been banned outright until they are edited.

In the United States, public disapproval of Confederate symbols has surged over the past 10 days, following the racially-motivated slaying of nine black parishoners inside their church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17. The killer celebrated the Confederate flag in photos posted to social media.

In Charleston's harbor in 1861, South Carolina artillery fired upon Fort Sumter to formally begin the Civil War. Eleven states ultimately would join the rebellion, many of them also enshrining slavery specifically within their constitutions or articles of secession.

For that reason, and in particular its use over more than a century by white supremacist organizations, the Confederate flag is popularly regarded as a symbol of racism and racial hostility. The flag gained much of its modern meaning in the 1950s and 1960s in southern areas hostile to federal mandates to racially integrate public accommodations and services, with two southern states remaking their flag designs in that era to overtly incorporate Confederate themes.

South Carolina continues to fly a Confederate battle flag on statehouse grounds; it had flown it from the dome of its capitol until the turn of the 21st century. The state's assembly this week voted to consider removing the flag entirely during its next legislative term.

Today, a demonstrator climbed the flagpole and took it down herself.

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