July 9, 2018

Amazon is selling Nazi books for kids and not doing much to remove them


Amazon is selling and profiting from racist and hateful products, according to a newly released study by the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) and the Partnership for Working Families, as Kelly Weill reports at the Daily Beast.

In a close examination of multiple Amazon platforms that allow for third-party sellers and creators—including Marketplace, Kindle Direct Services, CreateSpace, and the digital music platform—ACRE found products featuring hate symbols,  “including Confederate and anti-Black imagery, Nazi and fascist imagery, and the newly adopted imagery of the modern white nationalist movement.” Amazon’s publishing and music programs were found to provide a platform for racist writers and musicians “to advocate for violence against Black people, Muslims, Jewish people, and LGBTQ people.”

In even worse news, the study finds that many of these products and books are targeted at children. Weill reports:

A number of those products were marketed at children, including a series of custom Legos modified to look like Nazi troops, and a “for girls” backpack featuring Pepe, a cartoon frog that has become a symbol of the far right. The Pepe on the girls’ backpack is wearing a Nazi SS cap. Other Pepe products flagged in the study include a Pepe-fied Donald Trump children’s backpack and a baby romper featuring Pepe in a turban and thick beard for an anti-Muslim variant on the meme. Baby rompers featuring burning crosses, images often associated with the Ku Klux Klan, were also available.

Amazon also hosts neo-Nazi children’s literature. The study found Amazon selling physical and Kindle versions of The Fable of the Ducks and the Hens, a children’s book by George Lincoln Rockwell, the late founder of the American Nazi Party.

Also extremely alarming? Amazon takes a cut of these sales. Even though these products are sold through third-party sellers, Amazon still profits from hosting them via their Marketplace platform. And while these products are technically violations of official Amazon policy, the study found that little effort seems to be made in removing or monitoring them. “Amazon has been reactive, not proactive, in its response to use of its site by peddlers of hate… Amazon has a history of responding slowly—or not at all—to public pressure on this front rather than effectively preventing hate groups from using its platforms in the first place.”  

As this country sees a rise in and normalization of white supremacism, this hatred must be fought on all sides, including from private, powerful companies (which hold a not insignificant amount of influence in government). By continuing to sell these products, Amazon is providing a space for these thoughts to grow in strength and spread, and even influence children. Unless they are comfortable being complicit in the proliferation of hate groups, there is not one reason why any message of racism and intolerance should be allowed to live on Amazon, whether it be found in books, music, or t-shirts for babies. As one of the most powerful organizations in this capitalist country, this company needs to recognize they have a moral responsibility to remove and prevent this hatred.

ACRE created a petition calling on Amazon to discontinue their business with hate groups, which you can sign here.



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.