Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has fallen silent after multiple letters asking him to condemn the proliferation of hate speech in the form of Holocaust-denial books available for purchase on the online retail giant. The best and only answer now should be to halt all sales of said books.
The age-old idiom that the pen is mightier than the sword has been both falsified and exemplified in the hate crimes that have transpired across the U.S.
While it’s not fair to pin the cause of defaced Jewish cemeteries in New York, Philadelphia and St. Louis in the past month and bomb threats to Jewish communities on books sold on Amazon, the spreading of these ideas still makes waves.
Robert Rozett is the director of libraries at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial. He reportedly sent a letter to Bezos asking to stop the selling of the Holocaust-denial books on Amazon, according to the Jerusalem Post.
But Bezos has yet to answer or even speak out, prompting indifference rather than refusal, which seems worse in some respect. Indifference does nothing except ignore the entire problem.
Bezos is likely working with his Amazon team to try and modify its “Examples of Prohibited Listings” list so that it won’t include, “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.”
It is true that Amazon doesn’t legally have to stop selling the books since it doesn’t line up objectively with the stipulations above, considering that these books don’t directly incite hate speech. However, its duty as worldwide force on the internet is to relinquish any hateful and dismissive views on such a catastrophic event in history.
To stop the selling of just a few of the books that Rozett mentions surely wouldn’t hurt Amazon, as the industry giant had a net income of over $513 million for the first quarter of 2016, according to Wired. Certainly its target audience isn’t Holocaust deniers, however, books like this shouldn’t ever slip through the cracks.
“Bookstores have long refused to carry certain items with pornography being a prime example. Holocaust denial is no different, legally speaking, from hardcore pornography,” said Robert R. Singer, the CEO of the World Jewish Congress in an Los Angeles Times op-ed.
The universal message that Amazon could send by denouncing this type of poisonous literature would mean everything to those who have been affected by the hate spread by such ignorant deniers.
In a statement reported by the Times of Israel, Steven Goldstein, executive director of the U.S.-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, wrote, “Amazon is a repugnant accomplice to Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism of historic proportions.”
It’s telling to think that Amazon can completely ignore the rise of anti-semitic crimes occurring in the U.S. To ignore this kind of issue is to promote indifference over the matter, which becomes highly problematic. This is an issue of morality, and the longer that Amazon keeps quiet, the worse its image gets.
The selling of books that ignore plain facts is in extremely poor taste. Amazon had in fact removed some of the books in countries where Holocaust denial is illegal, like France, Italy and Germany. It would be the right thing to do and would show genuine respect to do the same universally.
These books are nothing but the promotion of false and disrespectful information. There is no good reason to sell and falsely promote this type of propaganda.