July 23, 2018
Congressman Keith Ellison asks Amazon why they’re still selling Nazi merchandise
by Stephanie DeLuca
As we wrote last week, Amazon is, right now, profiting from the sale of racist and Nazi merchandise, via third parties using their Marketplace platform to move products that include books, clothing, music, jewelry, and more, all featuring Nazi (and other racist) imagery. Amazon has done little to nothing to remove these products, despite the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) and the Partnership for Working Families publishing a study about it and starting a petition to demand for the products’ removal.
This week, US Representative (and occasional book endorser) Keith Ellison sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, urging him to remove these products from the website, according to reporting by Ben Fox Rubin at CNET. In his letter, which the Minnesota Democrat announced in a press release on his website, Ellison expresses his concern at Amazon’s possible contributions to the recent normalization of white supremacy: “I am disturbed that such a powerful corporation is materially fueling the rise of hate groups in our country.” He calls on Bezos to answer three questions:
- How much money has Kindle Direct Publishing made from the sale of materials published by SPLC-identified hate groups since 2015?
- How does Amazon enforce its policies against the sale of racist and hateful items?
- Will Amazon destroy any merchandise with hate symbols currently in Amazon-controlled warehouses within the next three months?
An Amazon spokesperson released a statement following Ellison’s letter, offering the same generic foot-shuffling they’ve been hiding behind all this time: “Third party sellers who use our Marketplace service must follow our guidelines and those who don’t are subject to swift action including potential removal of their account.”
However, these third-party sellers are still very much not removed. Which seems to support the case Ellison makes in his letter: “Either Amazon finds this practice acceptable or Amazon’s sheer size makes it impossible for the company to police itself.”
With a CEO who is literally the richest person in the entire world, it’s safe to assume that this company does in fact have the resources to police itself. So, logically, one must come to the conclusion that the reason these third-party sellers are still able to sell these products is because Amazon finds this practice acceptable.
Amazon and Bezos are providing a place for hate groups and Nazis to spread their message and gain strength. They need to be held accountable for their contribution to white supremacy, to be publicly called out on it by everyone, including our government officials. We hope to see other members of government following Ellison’s lead in speaking out against the connection between powerful businesses and white supremacy.
Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.