Friday, 23 December 2016

Walmart Pulls Black Lives Matter T-shirts After Police Union Objections

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“At a time of year when we as a nation and indeed, as a world, should be coming together in hopes of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, these third party sellers are profiting from racial division,” the president of the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Chuck Canterbury, said in a note to Walmart, in criticism of the retailer selling the shirt, “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter,” on its website.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, responded that it will stop selling the shirt that drew the ire of the FOP. The shirt and hoodie with the word “Bulletproof” in large letters, and with “Black Lives Matter” in smaller letters underneath were among the merchandise that could be found on Walmart’s online marketplace for third-party vendors. While the retailer has announced its intention to remove that specific shirt and hoodie, other “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts will apparently continue to be sold. The merchandise in question is not sold in its brick and mortar stores.

Canterbury told Walmart, “Commercializing our differences will not help our local police and communities to build greater trust and respect for one another. Turning a buck on strained relationships will not contribute to the healing process,” adding that he was concerned that selling the shirt will “damage your company’s good name amongst FOP members and other active and retired law enforcement officers.”

“I urge you to prohibit the use of the Walmart name and website for the retail sale of these products,” Canterbury wrote in his letter to Douglas McMillon, the CEO of Walmart.

The FOP objects to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) because of the contention, sometimes implied and sometimes explicit, by those associated with that group, that the nation’s cops are targeting blacks and that the lives of African Americans are not as valuable as other lives to the police. With police officers actually being targeted for assassination by some radicals, some have responded with the slogan “Blue Lives Matter.”

“Like other online retailers, we have a marketplace with millions of items offered by third parties that includes Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter merchandise,” Walmart said in a statement. “After hearing concerns from customers, we are removing the specific item with the ‘bulletproof’ reference.”

In 2015, Walmart removed “all items” promoting the Confederate flag for sale from its stores and its website. That announcement came following the shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting left nine dead, and was perpetrated by 21-year-old Dylan Roof, a self-proclaimed white supremacist who pictured himself on Facebook alongside images of the Confederate “battle flag.” That flag was never the official flag of the Confederacy, but was only used by Confederate armies. It has been also referred to as “the southern cross.”

The merchandise the FOP object to is sold by Old Glory Merchandise, which apparently sells all sorts of shirts, hoodies, mugs, and the like. They sell Black Lives Matter shirts, including ones that include the “clenched fist,” a communist symbol; as well as merchandise sporting the images of Che Guevera, Castro, Trotsky, and “benevolent” anarchists. But they also do sell merchandise with images of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Interestingly, one can not purchase any merchandise with the image of the Confederate Battle Flag. The Lee and Jackson items use a different flag used by the Confederacy during the War Between the States.

A Walmart store in Louisiana also rejected the request from a customer to bake him a cake with a Confederate battle flag design. Chuck Netzhammer told reporters that he asked for a cake with the words, “Heritage Not Hate,” and the flag at a Walmart in Slidell, Louisiana. The bakery refused that request, but later baked him a cake with the image of the ISIS flag, representing the terrorist group.

Netzhammer noted the apparent double-standard. “I went back yesterday and managed to get an ISIS battle flag printed. ISIS happens to be somebody who we’re fighting against right now who are killing our men and boys overseas and are beheading Christians.”

Walmart responded, “An associate in a local store did not know what the design meant and made a mistake. The cake should not have been made and we apologize.” (This raises an interesting question, since a baker in Oregon was actually fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake with images designed for a same-sex wedding).

Netzhammer added that a person can order an ISIS battle flag, “But you can’t buy a Confederate flag toy, with like, say a ‘Dukes of Hazzard’s’ car.”

But were one to go to Walmart’s online store, you can find merchandise with the images of Che Guevera, Fidel Castro, and Karl Marx. Just don’t add a Confederate battle flag to the images of Che or Fidel, two communist revolutionaries who were responsible for the executions of thousands of political opponents.

Confederate General Patrick Cleburne saw what surrender would lead to: “Surrender means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the War; will be impressed by all the influence of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit subjects for derision.”

In fairness to Walmart, you can also buy merchandise on their site with the image of Confederate General Robert E. Lee — at least for now.

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