Last night after work I stopped by the nearby Target. I needed a new pair of shoes — the soles to the pair I bought when Payless went into liquidation had already worn through to the insole — and Target was convenient. Fortunately, I found a pair I liked.

I also found some camping-themed story cubes. I’ll add these to my collection of Rory’s Story Cubes..

And I found this.

I looked at this, among Fourth of July-themed merchandise, and my first thought was, “That’s not right.” I picked it up and took a look. A flag-themed infinity scarf for summer. My second thought, “That doesn’t look like the United State flag. It looks like a Confederate battle flag to me.”

Let’s compare.

On the left (or a mobile device, the top), a United States flag. On the right (or bottom), the Confederate Navy Jack or Army of Tennessee battle flag. (The Army of Northern Virginia flag was similar, but square.)

The scarf resembles the latter infinitely more than the former.

Looking at it, I understood the design process. Someone at Target HQ said, “Let’s make a cute scarf out of the American flag. It will have stars and stripes, and it will be red, white, and blue. The white stars obviously have to go on a blue background, but a giant block of blue wouldn’t look good, so we’ll vary stripes of blue (with the stars) with stripes of red, and the stars themselves are the white.” I could totally see this design meeting in my head, and people looking at mock-ups, and someone saying, “Go!”

Unfortunately, the result looks far more like the right (or bottom) than the left (or top). The scarf really is alternate stripes of red and blue in parallel, separated by a thin white line, with white stars on the blue stripes, resulting in a blue stripe of white stars surrounded by a field of red, exactly as on the Confederate Navy Jack/Battle Flag. If I were designing a scarf that was intended to resemble the Confederate battle flag, it would look a lot like that.

For the record, the design was salvageable. Simply add a white stripe to the mix. Blue stripe with stars, white stripe, red stripe. There’s still a chance the scarf would be misinterpreted, but that chance would be lessened.

This certainly wasn’t the sort of thing I expected to find in a Target in 2019, that’s for sure.

Header photo “Target,” by Mike Mozart, licensed Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

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