TIME eBay

eBay to Ban Confederate Flags

US-CRIME-SHOOTING-FLAG
MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP/Getty Images A man holds a sign up during a protest rally against the Confederate flag in Columbia, South Carolina on June 20, 2015.

eBay said in a statement today that it will ban Confederate flag-themed items, immediately, following in the footsteps of Walmart, Sears and K-Mart.

“We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags, and many items containing this image, because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The backlash against the flag comes in the wake of the mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C., historically black church. The alleged perpetrator, Dylann Roof, has been shown posing with the Confederate flag in photos, as well as making racist remarks.

In response to the shooting, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the Confederate flag that stands on the grounds of the state capitol to be taken down. Viriginia Governor Terry McAuliffe called for his state to phase out license plates depicting the flag, which many associate with slavery and racism.

 

MONEY online shopping

The Confederate Flag Is Getting Some Interesting Reviews on Amazon

tattered confederate flag
age fotostock—Alamy

"Is the other side of this flag a Nazi Swastika?"

On Monday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds. “For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble,” Haley said. Yet at the same time, she said, in light of the way the flag has been used by some as a symbol of hate—most obviously, by the suspect in last week’s deadly shooting in a historic black church in Charleston—”the flag is a deeply offensive symbol” that must be removed from the capitol grounds in Columbia.

Soon after Haley’s announcement, Walmart, Sears, and Kmart stated that they would stop selling flags and other merchandise featuring the Confederacy’s “Stars and Bars.” As of Tuesday morning, however, there was no sign of e-retailers Amazon and eBay following suit with bans of their own. Tens of thousands of items featuring the Confederate flag design remain available for purchase at the sites.

[UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long. By Tuesday afternoon, Amazon and eBay both announced they were removing Confederate flag merchandise from their sites.]

Considering that there’s a tradition for sarcastic and faux Amazon reviews to be used as bullhorns for political opinions—see the reviews of Wendy Davis’s Mizuno sneakers or Paula Deen’s books—it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are weighing in on the Confederate flag controversy with new reviews. In many cases, they’re not only bashing the merchandise and the sellers, but also Amazon itself for facilitating the sales of what many deem to be a symbol of hate, racism, and intolerance.

Dozens of reviews have been added at Amazon.com over the last few days for one Confederate Rebel Flag in particular. Sold by a company called Rhode Island Novelty, the three-foot-by-five-foot polyester flag—made in Taiwan, priced at $5.74 (down from the “list price” of $45)—has drawn loads of one-star reviews and comments such as the following:

BAN IT…I just feel it symbolizes hatred toward minorities

Boycott the American version of a swastika. Whatever individual meanings it could have, there is no denying its ugly message.

If your [sic] a racist then this is the flag for you.

Worked great not only as toilet paper but really gets a fire going as well.

It’s offensive that this flag is on Amazon, I will not order another thing from Amazon until these things are taken off.

As Quartz pointed out, reviewers have been adding their two cents to the Q&A section for the item as well, with users entering sarcastic queries like, “Is the other side of this flag a Nazi Swastika? I only have one flag pole to show my pride in defunct nations based on racism.”

While the majority of new reviewers take aim at the Confederate flag merchandise and the sellers of such goods, some are defending the “Stars and Bars,” or at least the right of people to buy and sell the items. “This flag does NOT stand for racism and it’s NOT a rag,” one commenter stated. Another commented, “My husband and I both shop at Amazon all the time and if they STOP selling the Flag I’ll no longer shop here.”

Read next: 7 Things You Probably Had No Idea Amazon Sold

TIME Retail

Report Claims Zara Workers Targeted Black Shoppers As Potential Shoplifters

New York City Exteriors And Landmarks
Ben Hider / Getty Images A general view of the exterior facade of Zara International Store on 59th and Lexington Avenue on December 30, 2013 in New York City.

They were seven times as likely to be watched

Racial discrimination may be an issue at New York-based Zara retail stores, according to a new report by the Center for Popular Democracy. The survey of New York City Zara employees conducted earlier this year found that black customers were seven times more likely to be tagged as potential shoplifters than other customers.

More than half of employees mentioned using the code word “special order” to identify suspicious customers, though employees said the code word was phased out midway through the survey. (The survey was conducted without the cooperation of Zara.) 46 percent of those who defined “special order” said that black customers were identified by the phase “always” or “often.” That’s compared to only 14 percent for Latino customers and 7 percent for white customers.

Beyond customers, the survey found that employees of color perceived widespread discrimination at the company. Black employees were twice as likely to be unhappy with their hours as white employees, and they noticed favoritism three times more often. “The favoritism definitely goes to those that are not African American or Latino,” one employee said.

The survey comes on the heels of a discrimination suit filed by the former general counsel for Zara USA, Ian Jack Miller. He claimed that he was discriminated against in pay for his Jewish faith and sexual orientation, and that company executives created a hostile work environment by frequently throwing around racial slurs.

In a statement to The Guardian, a Zara spokesperson denied the survey’s findings, saying that “the baseless report was prepared with ulterior motives and not because of any actual discrimination or mistreatment.” The spokesperson also said: “In its most recent round of internal promotions at Zara USA, approximately half were Hispanic or African American employees.”

TIME Israel

Israeli Interior Minister’s Wife Draws Ire With ‘Racist’ Obama Tweet

 
 

Shalom's husband is partially responsible for U.S.-Israeli relations

Judy Nir Mozes Shalom, wife of Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, caused a stir on Twitter Sunday after sharing a controversial joke that many are calling racist.

“Do u know what Obama Coffee is? Black and weak,” wrote Shalom, whose husband is partially responsible for maintaining Israel’s good relationship with the U.S., Haaretz reports.

The post provoked an angry response before it was hastily deleted, with Twitter users accusing Shalom of being “racist” and doing “grievous damage” to foreign relations.

Shalom tweeted an apology shortly thereafter, saying the line was “a stupid joke somebody told me.”

[Haaretz]

Read next: Obama Uses N-Word in Frank Interview About Race

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TIME Race

Here’s Why the Confederate Flag Is Still Flying in South Carolina

The South Carolina and American flags fly at half mast as the Confederate flag unfurls below at the Confederate Monument June 18, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford—Getty Images The South Carolina and American flags fly at half mast as the Confederate flag unfurls below at the Confederate Monument June 18, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.

Some cling to it for cultural reasons, and there are political barriers to taking it down

Correction appended, June 19th.

The Confederate flag is still flying on the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia, S.C., less than 48 hours after a gunman murdered nine black worshippers in a church shooting that is being investigated as a hate crime.

Some are now demanding that the Confederate flag, considered by many to be a symbol of racial oppression, be removed from the state capitol. A MoveOn.org petition asking South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to remove the flag has gotten more than 100,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. Some lawmakers are also planning to introduce legislation to take the flag down.

So why is the Dixie Flag still flying?

Part of the answer is political. The South Carolina Heritage Act of 2000 stipulated that the Confederate flag would be removed from the capitol dome itself, but would be flown nearby at the Confederate Soldiers’ Monument, on the Statehouse grounds. It’s literally locked into place—State Representative Leon Howard told TIME that that the flag is padlocked to the flagpole to prevent tampering or removal.

Because of the strong support for the Confederate flag among many South Carolina voters, some political scientists have said that advocating for flag removal is the equivalent of political suicide in the state—Republican Governor David Beasley lost his 1998 campaign for re-election partly because he wanted to take down the flag.

In this climate, there’s little chance that a bill to remove the flag will pass, said Rep. Howard, a Democrat who serves as chair of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. Howard said that the legislature is divided down party lines on the subject of the flag, and he thinks his Republican colleagues are unlikely to change their minds on this issue.

“Defenders of the flag are going to say, ‘if the flag had been taken down and put away, this senseless act would have happened anyway, this would have not deterred this young man from taking a gun and killing these people,'” he told TIME. But even though he’s less than optimistic, he thinks the massacre in Charleston has brought the legislature “closer to moving it than ever before.”

The flag of the Confederate States of America has had a fraught history in the South since the Civil War, but supporters say it represents a symbol of Southern heritage, a history they associate with honor and valor, not racism.

Here’s an excerpt from a 2001 TIME story on Southerners who cling to symbols of the Old South, quoting Chris Sullivan, editor of Southern Partisan magazine, which celebrates the Confederate cause:

“There’s an old joke about a Yankee who comes down South and drops into a country store… Something comes up about the Civil War, and he says, ‘When is the South going to get over that?’ The guy tells him, ‘When it’s over.’ So the Yank says, ‘What would you call what happened at Appomattox Court House? And the Southerner says, ‘Longest cease-fire in history.'”

The refusal to believe that the war is over, according to the 2001 story, is linked to anxieties about the erosion of white people’s economic status in the face of racial progress.

Progress has made loyalists more militant about holding onto their idea of Dixie: its history and heritage, its family and sovereignty, its thumb in the eye of Northern culture and, for some, its codes of racial superiority and subjugation.

“Robert Penn Warren said when the Confederacy died, it became immortal in the South,” says Charles Wilson, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. “Southern white ministers were the center of a kind of civil religion that sacralized the Confederacy after the war was over to help keep it alive, so they made Robert E. Lee into a saint and Stonewall Jackson into a martyr.”… But for “an intensely committed ideological group,” the right-wing politics of the ’80s and ’90s—smaller government, state’s rights, the racially charged dismantling of welfare—echoes the old rebel yell. And for poor whites who missed the boat in the New Economy, flags and monuments to heroes may, he says, “be a kind of last stand.”

And yet, as Ta-Nehesi Coates points out at The Atlantic, the Confederate flag is a symbol of a culture that was not just accidentally racist—racism was baked into the very purpose of secession. Here’s an excerpt from the 1861 “Corner Stone” speech, by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, explaining the purposes of the Confederacy:

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

The debate over whether the flag should be flying on state property has been batted back and forth for decades, often used as a political tool by national politicians. Joe Biden demanded the flag be removed from the South Carolina capitol back when he was a presidential candidate in 2007, and John McCain waffled on the issue during the same election.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misused a colloquial description of the confederate flag. “Stars and Bars” is a term for an earlier design of the same flag. It also misidentified the state capitol, which is Columbia.

TIME Crime

Former Classmate Describes Charleston Shooting Suspect as ‘Different’ With a ‘Wild Side’

"It never, never crossed my mind that he would go out and murder all those people like that"

John Mullins, a former classmate of alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, told CNN Thursday that Roof was “different” to his peers, both quiet and with “kind of a wild side to him, too, where there’s that sort of carelessness about things.”

However, he added, “It never, never crossed my mind that he would go out and murder all those people like that.”

Mullins also told CNN that he and Roof shared mutual black friends with whom Roof sometimes would “sh-t talk,” cracking jokes back and forth. “He would make kind of racist slurs as jokes, but they were never taken seriously in any form or manner,” Mullins said.

However, photos of Roof wearing a jacket decorated with patches associated with white supremacists surfaced quickly after he was taken into custody Thursday. And a survivor of Wednesday’s massacre has reported that Roof said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go” when one of the young men he allegedly killed was begging for his life.

[CNN]

TIME Crime

Charleston Mayor Describes the Night of Church Shooting

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, center right, joins hands with Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, left, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., right, at a memorial service at Morris Brown AME Church for thepeople killed during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church in Charleston, S.C., June 18, 2015.
David Goldman—AP South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, center right, joins hands with Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, left, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., right, at a memorial service at Morris Brown AME Church for thepeople killed during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church in Charleston, S.C., June 18, 2015.

Recalls "the moan, the wailing, the natural human pain" when he notified the families

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley had already eaten dinner and was getting ready for bed on Wednesday night when he heard his landline ring. “That time of night, that’s unusual,” he recalled. “And so when it was the chief of police, I knew he was calling me with bad news.”

It was Greg Mullen, Chief of Police, calling to tell him that there had been a shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. “He didn’t know the extent of it, whether there were many fatalities,” the mayor tells TIME. “As I was putting on clothes, I increasingly found that it was going to be this awful catastrophe.”

Mayor Riley and Chief Mullen went to a nearby hotel, where family members of people who had been in the church were assembled. None of the family members knew how many people had been shot, or how many had died, but when the mayor and the Chief of Police arrived, they reported that there had been nine fatalities. “The people there knew almost certainly that one of their loved ones had been killed,” the mayor recalls, with obvious emotion in his voice. “And the moan, the wailing, the natural human pain, that was just so heartbreaking. And we stayed there and consoled and hugged and comforted as many as we could.”

“It was awful, it was just awful,” says the nine-time re-elected mayor, who has held office since 1975. Nine black people were murdered, including Reverend Clementa Pickney, who also served as a state senator. The mayor recalled Reverend Pickney as a “wonderful man.”

“He was a very tall man with great posture and presence and had a very deep voice,” the mayor recalls. “But he spoke softly. It was a wonderful comment about his character—because of his size and stature and a very deep voice, he could have exhibited power, but he was gentle, thoughtful, he was a devoted pastor and he was beloved in the state senate.”

Mayor Riley says the suspect, 21-year old Dylann Roof, must be “horrible afflicted with the disease of racism” or “whatever lunacy allows you to sit at a church for 45 minutes and then pull out a gun and start killing people,” but stopped short of calling him a terrorist.

“Whether he was a terrorist and exactly how you define a terrorist, I don’t know,” he says. “I put him more in the [category] of the shooter of the children in Connecticut, the shooter in the movie theater—they’re deranged people.”

The takeaway, Riley says, isn’t about racial hatred as much as it is about the easy availability of guns. “This guy that obviously wasn’t 100% emotionally stable could get a gun as easily as he could buy a diet beverage. I think this raises that same alarm bell that our country just hasn’t been able to deal with.” He also pointed out that Roof grew up over 100 miles outside of Charleston, noting that this “wasn’t something that emanated from the civic culture of this city.”

“Times have so drastically changed, you don’t see people waving confederate flags, you don’t see them like a generation ago. You don’t see the flags waved as evidence of resistance to racial progress,” he says. There’s still a Confederate flag hanging in the state capitol, but Riley led a march in 2000 from Charleston to Columbia to demand that the flag be removed.

Riley, who has spent most of his four decades in office fighting for racial equality, is currently in the process of building a museum of African American history on the Charleston Wharf, to acknowledge the city’s legacy of slavery; 40% of all enslaved Africans who came to North America came through Charleston.

But the Mayor doesn’t think this shooting points to a broad subculture of hatred in Charleston. “It doesn’t equate to a societal defect on any kind of scale,” he says. “It’s very isolated, it’s very limited. He got a gun. And he’s hateful and unbalanced enough to sit in a church for 45 minutes and then pull out a gun and kill people.”

“How you prevent a deranged person from doing bad things?” he asks. “I have dedicated these 39 and a half years to advancing the cause of racial progress and inclusiveness. We’ve done that in so many remarkable ways in Charleston. It’s a different city than it was 40 years ago. So we can’t let this one hateful nutcase who lives 110 miles away affect that.”

 

 

 

TIME Race

Duke Professor on Leave After Posting Racially-Charged Comments

A general view of the Duke University Chapel on campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C.
Lance King—Getty Images A general view of the Duke University Chapel on campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C.

He posted a long comment on a New York Times editorial about the riots in Baltimore

A Duke University professor is on leave after posting comments online that many readers found to be racist.

Jerry Hough posted a long comment on a New York Times editorial titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore,” saying that “the Asians” were discriminated against just as much as “the blacks,” but that Asians “worked doubly hard” while African Americans just “feel sorry for themselves.”

He continues, “Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration.”

“The comments were noxious, offensive, and have no place in civil discourse,” Duke University said in a statement reported by ABC.Duke University has a deeply-held commitment to inclusiveness grounded in respect for all, and we encourage our community to speak out when they feel that those ideals are challenged or undermined, as they were in this case.”

Hough has since been placed on leave, according to multiple reports.

Hough told the News & Observer that his comments were misunderstood.

“Anyone who says anything is as racist and ignorant as I was called by a colleague,” he said. “The question is whether you want to get involved in the harassment and few do. I am 80 and figure I can speak the truth as I see it. Ignorant I am not.”

TIME United Kingdom

British Legislative Candidate Suspended For Threatening to Shoot Rival

Robert Blay said he would "personally put a bullet" between the eyes of Ranil Jayawardena

A right-wing British parliamentary candidate, Robert Blay, has been suspended by his own party for threatening to shoot a rival candidate, the BBC reports.

His rival is Ranil Jayawardena, a British citizen of Sri Lankan origin.

Blay, who was running for the constituency of North East Hampshire, appeared in a video secretly made by a U.K. tabloid, the BBC says. In the video, Blay reportedly said that if Jayawardena ever became Prime Minister, he would “personally put a bullet between his eyes.” He also added that his opponent was “not British enough to be in Parliament.”

“I was shocked to hear about these comments and that someone who holds these types of views could have been selected as a UKIP candidate,” Jayawardena announced on Facebook Wednesday.

“My family believes in hard work. My father came to this country to do just that — never claiming a penny from the state,” Jayawardena added.

Blay’s party, the UK Independence Party, apologized to Jayawardena, characterized their candidate’s views as “abhorrent,” and immediately suspended Blay from the organization.

[BBC]

TIME Israel

Why the Latest Protest Against Police Brutality Is Happening in Israel

Demonstrators confront Israeli policemen, during a demonstration of Ethiopian Jews at RABIN Square in Tel Aviv on May 3, 2015.
Omer Messinger—AP Protesters confront Israeli policemen during a demonstration of Ethiopian Jews in Tel Aviv on May 3, 2015

Scores are hurt in weekend protests in Tel Aviv as Ethiopian Israelis rally against what they say is long-running racism

Masses of protesters gathering in the streets, some throwing rocks and bottles at the police. In full riot gear, the police respond in force, shooting tear-gas canisters, percussion bombs and water guns. By the end of the evening, 46 injured people are sent to area hospitals.

Scenes of violent protest are something that people in Israel are used to seeing periodically, though it is usually in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This time, though, the rage involves youth Israelis of Ethiopian descent who are angry at their own government.

Complaints of discrimination in all sectors of society — including housing, education and the workplace — are common from Ethiopian Israelis. But the issue of police brutality toward the group came to the forefront in the past week when a video surfaced last Thursday showing police beating a young Ethiopian-Israeli soldier in uniform. A protest against police brutality spilled over into violence in Jerusalem last Thursday night. Those protests continued over the weekend, and on Sunday evening, Rabin Square in the heart of Tel Aviv began to look like an intifada-era conflict zone.

What are Ethiopian-Israelis angry about? Since they began immigrating to Israel in the 1980s, Ethiopians have struggled to integrate into Israeli society. There are more than 135,00 Israelis of Ethiopian origin, according to the most recent figures from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Some came to escape famine and persecution, and all grew up on the idea of Israel as their ultimate homeland. By now, a new generation is Israeli-born, but they still face discrimination that, in the words of one activist, “is more latent than official.” In addition, some of Israel’s Orthodox rabbinical establishment question their Jewishness, which makes it difficult for them to get married in a country where civil marriage doesn’t exist.

But what touched off the current rage, so strikingly similar to the street protests over police brutality that have taken place over the past few months in the U.S., was a CCTV video. It captured an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier being thrown to the ground and beaten by two white policemen. In the video we see the policemen accost the soldier and push him, who then pushes back, and then the two men throw him to the ground and kick him.

“After being beaten up, after being violated again and again and being discriminated against, many Ethiopians wind up in jails,” says activist Fentahun Assefa-Dawit. He notes that 40% of minors in the Israeli correction system are of Ethiopian descent. “What’s different this time is the footage. And all the youngsters who might have been through this something like this, now they have proof that it occurs.”

Assefa-Dawit is the executive director of Tebeka–Advocacy for Equality and Justice for Ethiopian Israelis, an organization that receives more than 1,000 complaints of discrimination and abuse a year. It takes up the strongest cases of Ethiopians who have suffered discrimination, some of which have gone to Israel’s Supreme Court. But for young people outraged by what they’ve experienced, change is coming far too slowly.

“When an Ethiopian applies for a job, as qualified as he might be, as impressive as his CV might be, he is not going to be invited for the interview because he has an Ethiopian name,” Assefa-Dawit told journalists on Monday in a conference call before heading to a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is conferring with Ethiopian community leaders in an effort to calm the outrage. “When a local rabbinate office refuses to register a couple who wants to get married because they’re Ethiopian, when you see a school that says we cannot take more children because they have a quota of how many Ethiopians they will enroll, you can imagine what the feeling of young people will be,” he says.

Shimon Solomon, who came to Israel from Ethiopia in 1980 at the age of 12, was a member of the Israeli parliament in the last government with the Yesh Atid party. He says that although he has repeatedly brought the issue of police brutality towards Ethiopians to the authorities for several years, nothing has been done.

“What we saw in the video is nothing compared to what goes on, in fact it was less shocking that what happens to people in our community at the hands of police,” Solomon tells TIME. “When we speak to people in their neighborhoods, we hear that it’s happening all the time, that the police allow themselves to act brutally and take people aside and beat them for no reason. We turned to the police and ask them to fix this situation, but it just continued like nothing happened.”

Solomon says that the protest on Sunday started with peaceful intentions, but a small group of “anarchists — some Ethiopian and some not” wanted to push things in a more radical direction. “We wanted an aggressive demonstration, not a violent one,” says Solomon. “The point of a protest is to bring attention to a situation, not to make the situation worse.” Solomon says he was disappointed that as the anger across the Ethiopian community grew, there was silence from Israel’s leaders. “It’s too bad that he didn’t come out immediately to decry the violence and hatred.”

Netanyahu met on Monday with Ethiopian leaders in an attempt to douse the flames amid reports that there would be further protests this week. The Prime Minister is moving closer to forming a government but has still not presented one since his re-election on March 17. On Monday he decried racism and violence, and arranged a meeting with Damas Pakedeh, the soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen.

“I was shocked by the pictures that I saw,” Netanyahu said in comments released by his office. “We cannot accept this and the police are dealing with it. We need to change things.”

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