Most of us buy our books and much more from Amazon. The firm started by Jeff Bezos has become one of the most powerful corporations, always expanding its grasp or devising new forms of merchandising and delivery.
Amazon, however, got into trouble when it was found that its German division was selling neo-Nazi books and other materials promoting Holocaust denial. In 2009, the American Jewish Committee sued the firm’s German division for selling 50 pro-Nazi books, although sales of these books were banned by France, Germany, and Austria:
It is unacceptable that books are for sale on Amazon.de that normally are only available under the counter in far-right extremist shops. … We cannot let the spread of internet sales erode laws that ban Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred of minorities in Germany.
As a result of the suit and bad publicity, Amazon supposedly removed sale of these titles. But two years ago, reporters for the British press found that the firm was again selling Holocaust-denial, anti-Semitic, and white-supremacist books. The Daily Mail reported:
The online retailer has been shown to sell books denying the holocaust and promoting anti-Semitism and the superiority of the white race with titles such as The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews and Building a Whiter and Brighter World. … The tide of discrimination appears to have come back in. Among the Holocaust denial books is Did Six Million Really Die? The preview questions the validity of claims of gas chambers and alleges many survivor stories have been made up.
Most were on Kindle, but some were in both hardcover and paperback. These titles were on European Amazon, where anti-Semitism is growing and where the availability of such titles by a one-click purchase can provide ammunition for young and uneducated anti-Semites.
But now, it seems, many of these titles are readily available for purchase on U.S. Amazon, where Bezos began his world-wide business. My friend, Cantor Bob Cohen of Kingston, New York, was searching for a specific book on Judaism, and much to his shock found that his search returned this one: It’s the Jews Stupid: Who and what these evil vipers are! by R. Vincent Bert. The author intends, he says, to prove that Jews are the “Seed of Satan.” And also, if you didn’t know, that they control today’s world and are the single force promoting evil.
This book is not the only one of its ilk. Amazon also sells one written by Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, The Synagogue of Satan, a 60,000-word book that, we can be thankful, has been “Updated, Expanded, and Uncensored.” Calling it a “groundbreaking historical study,” potential readers are told that it also contains the famous Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as well as writing from Henry Ford’s old anti-Semitic newspaper, The International Jew.
An admiring reader comments on the Amazon book page that there will be attempts to “label the book as ‘hate’ literature,” when it contains only “historical truths” showing that Jews have an “agenda to control the world.”
Amazon, as the evidence shows, is allowing its business to market this as just another legitimate book whose arguments should be considered. But fear not. If you want to read what real old-fashioned Nazis from the Hitler era have to say, you can also order on Kindle, for only 99 cents, the Nazi propagandist and newspaper publisher Julius Streicher’s The Jew as Criminal, which this time we are told is being offered only “for research purposes.” Yet it seems that not only researchers have bought the book. A reader calling himself “Montana Man” writes: “Streicher sure has this one right. … Yes they [the Jews] are criminal in all facets of humanity and in their dealings with others.” Guess Amazon didn’t demand proof that this reader was a researcher.
I could go on and on. You will find The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews, The Six Million: Fact or Fiction, and many other such vile specimens. If you don’t think readers are convinced by this, just look at the comments of those who have read it. And if someone from Amazon responds that one can also purchase Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, they will be validating Lipstadt’s point: one does not debate with Holocaust deniers; that only legitimizes their efforts.
(Lipstadt’s other highly acclaimed book, History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier, is soon to be made into a motion picture starring Hillary Swank as Lipstadt.)
Imagine if someone found on Amazon a book titled “It’s the African-Americans, Stupid,” or a title by the head of the Ku Klux Klan called “The Evil of American Blacks: Who and What these Vipers Are,” or “The Baltimore Riots: How Black Thugs Control our Inner Cities.”
We all know what the outcome would be: a major campaign against Amazon by the NAACP and every civil rights group in the United States. Within a day, all such titles would quickly be removed, and Mr. Bezos himself would issue a front-page apology in the paper he owns: the Washington Post.
My concern for how such Nazi-like rot is so easily available for purchase should not lead to the accusation that I am calling for censorship. These modern deluded and insane racists can freely write and publish and sell elsewhere, and undoubtedly do sell at “White Nationalist” events. Their availability does not mean that Amazon has to make them available for a wider public. Because these books exist does not mean Amazon must sell them. It’s time for the company to carefully look through its catalogue and to remove these and similar books for good.