Anti-Semitism at Amazon is the real scandal
A constant drumbeat of sharp headlines has heralded former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, president-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist, as an open anti-Semite. The attack is rooted in nothing more credible than an unverified accusation by a crusading left-wing journalist, namely that Bannon had “proudly” told her five weeks earlier, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.” To be fair, though, critics have amply demonstrated that during Bannon’s tenure Breitbart harbored some pretty noxious ideas—reflected in click-bait headlines, inflammatory columns, and virulent comment sections.
But have you seen the putrescence a few clicks away at Amazon.com? Caution: examining the links below may necessitate gloves or at least hand sanitizer. Amazon’s offerings include:
• Holy Serpent of the Jews: The Rabbis’ Secret Plan for Satan to Crush Their Enemies and Vault the Jews to Global Dominion
• It’s the Jews, Stupid! Who and What These Evil Vipers Are
• The Ruling Elite: the Zionist Seizure of World Power
Amazon certainly does not write all its book summaries, but they are unbylined, so inexperienced visitors might reasonably assume that—just as Marriott.com writes its own hotel descriptions – Amazon’s blurbs are the company’s. And some are shockingly indecent:
• Gas-chamber poison Zyklon B was “merely used as a pesticide in order to improve the inmates’ health and reduce, not increase, camp mortality,” according to the site’s central summary of Breaking the Spell: The Holocaust: Myth & Reality.
• “That certain Jews have always and still do work to establish Jewish hegemony over the world is not doubted by informed researchers,” says Amazon’s main description of the classic anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
• With the playfully named Mein Side of the Story: Key World War 2 Addresses of Adolf Hitler, the site appears to crow, “This is Hitler’s side of the story, revealed in his own spoken and written words.”
Amazon could start to rein in hateful book descriptions fairly quickly, but cracking down on the teeming spite in user comments would be difficult. Still, the “alt-right” bile in Breitbart’s comments section is supposedly damning evidence against Steve Bannon, so consider two samples from Amazon’s hundreds of five-star blurbs praising anti-Semitic books:
• “God forbid these poor persecuted people get negative light for once. So innocent that they’ve been kicked out of over 150 countries.”
• “Thank God someone is finally exposing the Jewish lie (the Holocaust) that has been used to enslave the world ever since WWII.”
And, of course, as with most of its inventory, Amazon invites you to LOOK INSIDE! books like The Myth of German Villainy; and it provides friendly links to other classics of Holocaust denial when you buy, say, Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth At Last.
Amazon’s prices for purchasing these rancid tomes are both too high and too low. Some out-of-print books cost well over a hundred dollars. Amazon is said to make between 14 percent and 40 percent on its third-party sales. Now who’s peddling anti-Semitism? Conversely, many of the worst Jew-hating propaganda tracts like Planet Rothschild and Mein Side of the Story are available free for Kindle Unlimited digital subscribers.
Amazon cannot sidestep responsibility for profiting off books that justify atrocities by saying the site is a public square where all content is treated equally, because it’s not. The company has removed, for example, a seduction manual on turning “no into yes” and a “how-to” guide for pedophiles. Rape and child molestation are awful, of course, but isn’t genocide against Jews at least as bad?
In fact, Amazon’s official policy calls “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance” as “prohibited listings.” So why does Amazon profit from books it claims to prohibit? The First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law...) does not apply to private businesses, so the company can and must act swiftly to tame its feral anti-Semitic subculture. Amazon can censure—but not censor—hateful and false works by:
1) devoting company resources to identify and ostracize them, perhaps even providing expert rebuttals;
2) implementing site-wide boilerplate clarifications that summaries do not reflect Amazon’s opinion; and
3) donating proceeds from their sales to Holocaust education and research. One mechanism: raise prices and lower demand through a Hatred Tax on offensive books.
Compared to the Amazon cesspool, Breitbart’s nasty streak seems rather tame. Three of the 10 “most incendiary” Breitbart headlines, according to CNN, are:
• “Science proves it: Fat-shaming works”;
• “Trannies whine about hilarious Bruce Jenner billboard”; and
• “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.”
Of course, Amazon sells Judaism Discovered: A Study of the Anti-Biblical Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition and Deceit, Conspiracy of the Six-Pointed Star, and The Synagogue of Satan.
Given its dominant market share and the diffuse nature of America’s “anti-Semitic community,” Amazon.com is almost certainly the nation’s go-to vendor of Holocaust-denying and Jew-bashing literature.
So why has Bannon become the poster child for Web sites that foster hate? Why not Jeff Bezos, who founded and still runs the demonstrably more pernicious Amazon? Could it be because Bezos makes political donations overwhelmingly to Democrats, spent millions of dollars to promote same-sex marriage, and has repeatedly tangled with the president-elect?
Either the hateful content of these Web sites is sufficient to classify both Bannon and Bezos as anti-Semites, or neither. Does Breitbart need tidying up, so it can crowd out vile voices with more constructive ones? Sure.
But Amazon needs a power wash.
David Benkof is senior political analyst for the Daily Caller, where this essay first appeared. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.