Walmart Is Pulling A Major Kind Of Merch

by Jenny Hollander

On Monday, in the latest indication that the Confederate's flag image has gone from "kinda racist" to "straight-up offensive" in the wake of the devastating Charleston shooting, retail giant Walmart announced it's pulling all Confederate flag merchandise from its stores across the country. It appears that a question asked of Walmart by CNN on Monday — whether Walmart would be keeping the various Confederate flag apparel in its stores — prompted the change, with Walmart telling CNN in an exclusive statement: "We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment, whether in our stores or on our web site."

Make no mistake, the Confederate flag — a notorious throwback to the slave-owning South — has maintained racist connotations since, well, the South owned slaves, but given the incident last Wednesday that authorities are investigating as a hate crime, South Carolina has been under pressure to remove the flag from the state's grounds. On Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley, who has also called for suspected Charleston shooter Dylann Storm Roof to face execution if found guilty, announced that she would be imminently pushing for the flag to be removed. "Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds," Haley said, with 2016 contender Lindsey Graham supporting her call for change.

Until now, CNN reports that Walmart had sold T-shirts, belt buckles, and other apparel featuring the Confederate flag. In a statement given to CNN, spokesperson Brian Nick added:

We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly — this is one of those instances.
Joshua Lott/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Photos of Roof from his Facebook page and what appears to be his white supremacist website, which is still being investigated by authorities but thought to belong to Roof, show him brandishing the Confederate flag, a firearm, and racist flags. The close association between the devastating shooting and the Confederate flag has sparked a revival of the anti-Confederate flag movement, and if Haley and Graham's calls for change are promptly answered, South Carolina's government buildings will no longer show off the flag. It's unclear if other states will follow South Carolina's example.

Now that the Confederate flag's image has swiftly gone from uncomfortable to something close to banned, it wouldn't be wholly surprising if other mega-retailers — think Amazon and eBay, both of whom CNN asked about removing the item — followed Walmart's lead. Profit-wise, Walmart remains the world's largest company, and its influence can't be underestimated.

Images: Getty Images (1)