Amazon, Antisemitism, and Free Speech
Amazon has changed its mind and stopped selling the Nation of Islam’s The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a pseudo-historical, malevolent fable produced by Louis Farrakhan’s anonymous “Historical Research Department.”
Am I in favor of censorship? Yes, in this case, because antisemites today are violently inflaming African-American/Jewish relations by means of the Secret Relationship that uses an apparatus of misleading quotations and phony footnotes to poison the minds especially of young African-Americans.
Farrakhan’s book promotes the lie that: “The most prominent of the Jewish pilgrim fathers … built an extensive slave trans-Atlantic slave-trading empire.”
According to the leading historical authorities, the truth is that, though there were a handful of Jewish merchants who traded slaves, they were responsible for “considerably less than two percent” of that shameful traffic from Africa to the new world.
Louis Farrakhan knows what the truth is because he has read my book, Ministry of Lies, debunking the falsehoods of the Secret Relationship. Yet like Hitler and Senator Joe McCarthy before him, his wicked response to the truth is to escalate his lies to inflame more hate.
Amazon also continues to market German language and English translations of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the most notorious “how to” manual for committing genocide. That book too should not be sold, except in annotated editions that expose its lies, and that teachers can use to educate young people about the Holocaust. In addition, Amazon continues to allow people to sell Nazi memorabilia, which is venerated by today’s neo-Nazis on every continent.
However, Amazon at least deserves commendation for “a good start” toward prudence and truth by no longer marketing this Farrakhanite tract aimed at destroying the historic friendship between African-Americans and Jews in order to fuel his race war in these turbulent times.
Other countries including Germany and Austria have experienced firsthand the terrible consequences that genocidal antisemitic propaganda can lead to in perilous times like these. They have acted decisively to stop the distribution and purchase of hate manuals like Mein Kampf, David Duke’s My Path, and now the Secret Relationship. We in America are constrained by the free speech protections of the First Amendment. But the right of our bigots to read Mein Kampf is not a green light for Amazon, the preeminent Internet mass marketer, to sell that book and other road maps to hatred and violence against threatened minorities — not only Jews.
Historian Harold Brackman is coauthor with Ephraim Isaac of From Abraham to Obama: A History of Jews, Africans, and African Americans (Africa World Press, 2015).