I have a grandson who lives in Louisiana. He turned two this Fall and is getting much positive reinforcement from his grandparents (us!) for his Cajun background. One of his other grandparents suggested we send a set of Civil War soldiers for him to play with, as he enjoys his other plastic models so much. The issue is that the other models are pretty big—big enough to hold in his hand and “walk” along the floor. I was wondering if toy soldiers might be too small for the little guy. When in doubt, go to amazon prime smile!
So—back to my title—I perused the bagged offerings of soldiers, horses, fences—and flags. I was in a Christmas shopping frame of mind and not thinking much beyond looking for reviews that might discuss age-of-kid and size-of-soldier relationships.
Imagine my surprise when I found review after review discussing one topic—the removal of the Confederate flag from the sets of soldiers. I knew that statues and plaques had been/were being removed from cities and towns in the former Confederacy, and that “flaggers” in Virginia had objected to the initial objections–but I had no idea it had gone so far as to be part of a child’s playset of soldiers.
Apparently, several customers found a notice inside their purchase:
Hello Customer, We want to let you know that per Amazon’s new policy, we cannot include a Confederate Flag piece in this set. In place of this flag, we have included a red flag to represent both parties in the Civil War. We apologize for the inconvenience.
This set off a series of concerns:
I ordered this for my son for Christmas. He is 9 and loves civil war history. Upon opening the container, he was greeted with a note that said that due to Amazon’s policy, they have removed the miniature plastic toy confederate flag because some people may find it offensive. Good grief! This is a historical playset.
One I especially liked:
My 5th-grade son is building a diorama from the Civil War novel Red Badge of Courage. I ordered this to help him out. Thank you to all those that protested the removal of the Confederate flag. It was included with our set that arrived yesterday. We are African-American, so as painful as that flag is in terms of what it represented for our ancestors, it is also historically accurate, and should not be removed from a Civil War battle set. I’m not sure how that helped anyone. Let’s not pretend this didn’t happen. Instead, let’s learn from past mistakes and vow, never again.
I continued to read on. Sometimes I am amazed at how ignorant or unaware I am. Several of these folks, reviewing plastic toys for amazon, even suggested the next logical step:
What is next? Are we going to start removing nazi emblems from WW2 models because those are offensive too?
Of course, I checked this out. The German Army of WW2 has had a couple of “fixes” applied to their flag. The most common one is to simply display the current German flag of three stripes–black, yellow, and red. One company has added an eagle to the center of the stripes. It is upside down and carries an Iron Cross. No swastikas to be seen, folks. Japan is indicated by its current white flag bearing a red circle.
So what are the solutions to the Confederate flag dilemma? There are at least two. One is to have a regular US flag for the Union, but a solid red one for the Confederacy. Another shows solid blue for the North and solid gray for the South. If you enlarge the picture of the solid flags, you will notice that the blue flag has a texture of stars and stripes, while the gray flag has the stars and bars. Well. Okay then. A couple of companies, not American in origin, show both flags on their cover art, but the Confederate is absent from the set. I guess you could just make your own. That might be easier than explaining politics to a 3-year old.
I did find a particularly interesting take on the whole toy soldier concept. Readers–meet “Rainbow Joes.” It comes with nine figures and represents seven colors of the rainbow spectrum. It is packaged in a “mini yoga studio” clear box that features a bamboo floor, and is recommended for “anyone who loves yoga, hates yoga, has ties to the military, or just thinks they are funny.”
All quotes are from amazon.com product reviews and publicly available.