Why Business Fought the Confederate Flag

Why Business Fought the Confederate Flag

In this July 19, 2011 file photo, Confederate battle flags fly outside the museum at the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek, Ala., Tuesday, July 19, 2011. Major retailers are halting sales of the Confederate flag after the June 17, 2015 shooting deaths of nine black church members in South Carolina. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
In this July 19, 2011 file photo, Confederate battle flags fly outside the museum at the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek, Ala., Tuesday, July 19, 2011. Major retailers are halting sales of the Confederate flag after the June 17, 2015 shooting deaths of nine black church members in South Carolina. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

 

(CNN) – It happened in a matter of days.

In South Carolina, the governor called for the Confederate flag to stop flying over the capitol. The governors of Virginia and North Carolina quickly declared that they would remove the flag from state license plates. Meanwhile, several of the country’s top retailers — from Walmart to eBay and Amazon — announced in quick succession that they would stop selling Confederate flag merchandise.

Not for the first time this year, the concerns of political leaders and business elites converged on a single issue — and swiftly forced dramatic change.

The debate over the Confederate flag is the most recent and vivid illustration of how changes in the business community can influence and pressure politics. Earlier this year, Republican governors in Indiana and Arkansas faced staunch opposition from business leaders on so-called “religious freedom” laws that critics warned would discriminate against gay customers. Both states eventually amended the language in the original bills amid widespread backlash from small and large companies.

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