Amazon has decided to quietly crack down on books it deems offensive. But the company’s enforcement of standards seems lopsided at best.
The New York Times reported that third-party booksellers on Amazon have been forbidden from selling copies of books written by David Duke, a former leader of the KKK, and George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. One unnamed Amazon third-party book-seller received a notice from the platform saying, “Amazon reserves the right to determine whether content provides an acceptable experience.”
However, books like Mein Kampf, Hitler’s memoir, which fits the definition of Nazi literature, can still be found on Amazon. Some of the reviews of this book are even troubling, including one that says, “Amazing how smart this man was. Sucks America had to intervene with the banking system and now we all slaves to the system.”
Other anti-Semitic books still found on Amazon include one of the most anti-Semitic books of all time — the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This book “outlines an alleged Judeo-Masonic conspiracy for world domination and was almost immediately dismissed as a ‘forgery’ not only by the Jewish community but by most official sources as well.”
Amazon controls at least two-thirds of the traffic of books, according to The Times. Its rules, found in the Amazon Help Center, state that “Books for sale on Amazon should provide a positive customer experience. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience and remove that content from sale.”
Furthermore, Amazon reserves the right to pull books for “inappropriate content.” Theoretically, the company will not pull books based on what other people find “objectionable,” but “inappropriate content” is left open to interpretation.
Enforcement of this policy is lopsided. Books that promote Antifa ideas are still found on Amazon. One of these titles includes Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, which is described as a “how-to for would-be activists, and a record of advice from anti-Fascist organizers past and present.”
While Nazi literature most likely will not be missed, there are still other uses for these books besides propaganda. Banning books can be a disservice to history, psychology, and other fields of academia. Finally, banning books is taking a page out of the Third Reich’s book. Germany banned and burned 12,000 books for going against Nazi ideology in 1933.