Amazon has removed several white nationalist and anti-Semitic books from its website, a change from its past policy of defending the sale of objectionable publications, The New York Times reported Sunday.
While the online marketplace has frequently removed things like anti-Semitic action figures and Christmas ornaments listed for purchase by third-party sellers, it has traditionally not been as quick to remove books, the Times reported.
But that appears to be changing. Tomes such as David Duke’s “My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding” and the Nation of Islam tract “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews” are no longer listed for purchase.
Some users think the platform has gone too far. A book documenting the creation of the Amazon Prime show “The Man in the High Castle,” which imagines what would have happened if the Nazis won World War II, digitally erased swastikas from set photos. The book’s publisher, Titan, said Amazon approved those changes, while Amazon said they didn’t make any editorial edits to the photos.
“If you can’t even have swastikas shown in a book about Nazis taking over America, please do not make books ever again,” one reviewer wrote on Amazon.
To be sure, some anti-Semitic books are still available, such as Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” But booksellers told the Times that Amazon ordered them to remove certain books without specifying why, or provide guidelines for what should and shouldn’t be made available for purchase.
“I’m not going to argue for the wider distribution of Nazi material,” said Kansas bookstore owner Danny Caine. “But I still don’t trust Amazon to be the arbiters of free speech. What if Amazon decided to pull books representing a less despicable political viewpoint? Or books critical of Amazon’s practices?”
There are no First Amendment implications for these issues; as a private business, Amazon has the right to sell or not sell whatever books it wishes.