Digital Book-Burning

Last March Amazon removed some 68 books from its offerings. All the books were on the same topic and all presented an alternative view on a sad episode in human history. That view is generally referred to as Holocaust “revisionism” or “denial”.
In justifying their action, Amazon informed the publisher of some of the books, Castle Hill Publishers, “During our review process, we found that this content is in violation of our content guidelines.” When queried by the publisher as to what guideline had been violated, Amazon responded, “I’m sorry, but we can’t offer any additional insight or action on this matter” and advised him to “improve the quality of all future submissions.” Hard to improve the quality of your work when you don’t know what is wrong with it in the first place!
But, truth be told, we all know what is wrong with these books: they provide a heretical perspective on an event which has acquired sacrosanct status. I question whether Amazon’s “review process” involved even perusing the books in question. Amazon simply caved to the demand of a powerful interest group, a la Facebook’s, Twitter’s, Google’s, et alia’s kowtowing to the freedom of expression suppression demanded by the U.S. government. This Amazon cannot admit.
That Amazon’s action was not motivated by any objection to hateful, antisemitic, or false literature is manifest by the fact Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf, and the seminal tract of modern antisemitism, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, remain available on Amazon. Nor have such bogus Holocaust fables passed off as memoirs as the following been banned: Misha Defonseca’s bestselling “autobiography”, Misha, in which she claims to have fled into the woods to escape the Nazis as a little girl and been raised by wolves; Herman Rosenblat’s Angel at the Fence, hailed as “the single greatest love story ever told” on her TV show by Oprah Winfrey, who bought the fairy tale hook, line, and sinker; and most notably, Elie’s Weisel’s dubious, some believe, recounting of his time in Auschwitz, Night, required reading for impressionable young minds in many a high school class.
In the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder, proclaimed “We want to make every book available: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” An older, some would say wiser, I would say chastised Bezos has apparently recanted. No Giordano Bruno he!
Many of you probably equate holocaust revisionism, aka denial, with White Supremacist rants or the promotion of pedophilia and so applaud Amazon’s ban. To those of you who know me and perhaps accord me at least a modicum of respect for my intelligence, knowledge, and fairmindedness, let me say that the banned books I have read are all works of the highest quality by authors who bear no other grudge than concern over a gross distortion of the historical record (“Those who do not learn from history…”). To those of you I haven’t had the pleasure to meet, let me point out that the cardinal rule of objectivity is to listen to what the other side has to say. Don’t prejudge revisionists before you have familiarized yourself with their argument (Amazon-banned books on the Holocaust are available at shop.CODOH.com).
If the plight of a small band of diligent, self-sacrificing heretics (the publisher of Castle Hill Publishers – once a PhD. candidate in Chemistry at the Max Planck Institute – spent almost four years in a German prison for writing a book on the chemistry of the purported gas chambers at Auschwitz) doesn’t move you, I could cite that overused line “First they came for the…”, but you’re familiar with it. Much as that axiom has been abused, the warning contained therein remains salient. The impulse by those in power to suppress thought which runs counter to established “truths” is immemorial, as is it’s being countered by brave, duty-bound souls. To quote Santayana once again (this time more accurately and completely) “Eternal vigilance is the price of knowledge”.
If, on the other hand, you are as outraged as I am by Amazon’s action and fearful it reflects a growing and dangerous trend toward censorship in our society, ACT! Educate yourself on the issue! Spread the word about Amazon’s abandoning its founding principle! Don’t buy from Amazon (distributors who still carry the banned books can be found at BookFinder.com)!

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Author: Kiask

I'm a retiree from the computer field living in the Washington, DC area, where I haunt think-tank events to ask provocative, iconoclastic questions like the ones addressed in these essays (see “Adventures in Think Tank Land” on YouTube). I produces a public access TV show, “Civil Discord”, on which discordant views on controversial topics are discussed in a civil manner (episodes of the show can be viewed on YouTube; search for "Civil Discord Show").

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