The Color of Money

In the midst of the uproar over the Confederate Battle Flag (America’s latest Two Minute Hate), an odd rumor began making the rounds on the internet.  As far as I can tell, it began on InfoWars, the website of crank conspiracy theorist and talk-show host Alex Jones.  As companies like eBay and Amazon began pulling the Battle Flag, and items festooned with its likeness, from the stock available for sale, a few folks decided to get to the bottom of the matter and contacted customer service.  What they discovered stunned—nay, shocked—them.

In transcripts of chats and recordings of phone calls, Amazon customer-service representatives declared that they were no longer selling the Battle Flag because the federal government had ordered them not to do so.  That all of the CSRs who made this claim were clearly (from the voices on the recordings and the peculiarities of the text of their chats) sitting in call centers somewhere on the Subcontinent, and that all made such claims only in response to leading questions, was irrelevant.  An Amazon phone jockey said that Barack Hussein Obama himself had ordered the company to quit selling the Battle Flag, so it must be true.

One of the great dangers of conspiracy theories is that they blind their adherents to more banal—which is not to say less sinister—explanations.  No one needed to order Amazon and eBay and...

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