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Another reason to hate Walmart
September 27, 2004 5:02 AM   Subscribe

WalMart ends anti-Semitic book sale Bowing to a barrage of complaints from Jewish groups, retail leader Wal-Mart Inc. has stopped selling "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," an infamous anti-Semitic tract long exposed as fake.
posted by Outlawyr (67 comments total)

 
From the first link:
The description, now withdrawn from the Wal-Mart (WMT: Research, Estimates) Web site, said, "If ... The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs. We neither support nor deny its message. We simply make it available for those who wish a copy."

WTF?!?

This at the same time that Wal-Mart faces U.S.'s largest Civil Rights Suit.
posted by Outlawyr at 5:05 AM on September 27, 2004


It's about time. Are they carrying it in their stores, or just online?
posted by amberglow at 5:11 AM on September 27, 2004


My God, that thing's still being sold, at a major retailer? I really thought that had gone the way of "TWAK" signs in store windows. (Or maybe I'd better start looking for those signs, so I know who to avoid.)
posted by Zonker at 5:20 AM on September 27, 2004


Happy Banned Books Week.
posted by Nothing at 5:21 AM on September 27, 2004


(Note: I don't agree with the crazies)
posted by Nothing at 5:31 AM on September 27, 2004


i don't agree with the crazies either, but it makes my skin creep when people start celebrating books being unavailable.

sure, it's just a commercial decision, the book is not legally "banned", but there's a clear message - it's more important to censor things than argue for what is right.

as ever, once "anti-semitic" is there any other moral question goes out the window....
posted by andrew cooke at 5:35 AM on September 27, 2004


Amazon still sells it! GET 'EM!

The Wal-Mart message is heavy handed and very poorly researched, but if I can go to chapters.indigo.ca and get three books refuting the book, but not one copy of the actual book, something is out of whack.
posted by jon_kill at 5:37 AM on September 27, 2004


... it's more important to censor things than argue for what is right.
What can be argued about a slanderous forgery that's been used as truth by nazis, neo-nazis, and other murderous freaks. It misrepresents itself, and has caused countless deaths.

It's still available online from many retailers and hate sites, and hasn't been banned by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by amberglow at 5:40 AM on September 27, 2004


They overlooked the Spanish edition.
posted by nikzhowz at 5:43 AM on September 27, 2004


They're damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they sell the book and claim the moral high ground in terms of censorship they'll be accused of racism. If they don't sell the book and claim the moral high ground of not catering to racists then they'll be accused of censorship. This is Walmart though, they're not even a major book seller. They could probably avoid the problem by just making it company policy to only sell the New York Times best seller list and maybe a couple of other big lists. To be honest I'm surprised that they even carried it. in the first place. Walmart isn't the first place I think of when I'm thinking of getting a contraversial book.

On the other hand what does Borders or B. Daltons or Coles face? They have a wide enough variety of books that you're ensured that you can find something to offend almost all tastes.
posted by substrate at 5:51 AM on September 27, 2004


Andrew: I think the main point is how obviously misleading the advertising blurb was. It would be different if they put a proper disclaimer on it. And even then I'd prefer if they didn't make it particularly easy to locate.

You can't go into a bookstore and buy Mein Kampf in Germany. You can in the US. Given the history, not to mention certain ongoing trends, I think this is prudent. The book has not been outlawed in Germany, and if you really want to find it you can (at libraries and such, or online).

There is no doubt that many ridiculous things have been condemned in the name of being anti-this or anti-that. Ask level-headed members of the community that's allegedly being discriminated against, I say. Mel Brooks says that the few complaints he got about his portrayal of racism in Blazing Saddles, including use of the word nigger, came from whites. Blacks understood that the word was simply being used accurately -- that's how they really would have been treated by whites at the time in question.

You also may recall the aide who was forced to resign for saying niggardly, or the Real Jews college newspaper column, which was written by a Jew and condemned by the editor, (who definitely appears to be) a non-Jew. There are always hyper-sentitive members of communities which have been discriminated against -- understandable, but unfortunate when it leads to a breakdown in legitimate dialogue, or humor.

Still, as much as I am for open discussion of these things in general -- it's much better than pretending certain things never happened -- I still think what Walmart was doing is disingenuous at best and anti-Semitic at worst. And to use my previous example, openly selling Mein Kampf in Germany would not make you a Nazi, but would certainly be imprudent and in bad taste.
posted by caveday at 6:06 AM on September 27, 2004


Given the history, not to mention certain ongoing trends, I think this is prudent.

I think my head just imploded from the irony of whay you said.
posted by jon_kill at 6:12 AM on September 27, 2004


The same description is used at Amazon, according to Reason.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:41 AM on September 27, 2004


There's nothing wrong with gatekeepers at one or another access point banning, refusing, censoring or even destroying books. Where did you people get the idea that "book banning" and censorship are against the laws of the universe? If you are in a position of authority, you are responsible for what goes through your gate. And you are responsible for choosing wisely. Anyone who's ever tried to get a product distributed by WalMart knows that they are VERY choosy about what they carry. For them to carry "Protocols" with that outrageous "might be true, might not, who knows?" description, is anti-semitism, flat out, plain and simple. There should be a MAJOR, huge, gigantic recantation by the top management of that company.
posted by Faze at 6:46 AM on September 27, 2004


This is Walmart though, they're not even a major book seller.

Depends how you mean "major." If you mean volume, you're wrong:
In books, too, Wal-Mart has quickly become a force. "They pile up best-sellers like toothpaste," says Stephen Riggio, chief executive of Barnes & Noble Inc., the world's largest bookseller.
Amazon still sells it! GET 'EM!

As does B&N. But both include strong disclaimers pointing out that it's a forgery, whereas the description on Wal-Mart's site was deliberately vague on the subject.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:47 AM on September 27, 2004


Instead of removing it from sale, they should have done what Amazon does when it doesn't want to sell you something. List the availability time frame as 3 to 5 weeks and ... well ... just ... never ... get ... around ... to ... delivering ...
posted by Blue Stone at 6:53 AM on September 27, 2004


To be honest I'm surprised that they even carried it. in the first place.

I think that's more or less the point.
A search for War & Peace turns up
the cliffnotes, but not the book. Couldn't find tropic of capricorn at all... I'm sure there are plenty of other books one would not have trouble finding on amazon or barnes & noble which walmart simply doesn't have. So why would they have the protocols? Combine that with the use of that "disclaimer", whether or not they wrote it themselves, and it looks pretty bad.

Also, Amazon is denying they ever gave it a positive review.
posted by mdn at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2004


It's astounding to me in several ways that Walmart ever would have been carrying Protocols. I always pictured their books section as having a jillion copies of a relatively small number of bestsellers. To stock something like this, a book that (aside from being racist) is pretty esoteric seems like it should be an exception...or at least I would hope it's an exception.

The other really odd thing about this is that Walmart is notorious for requiring that the music CDs it stocks (and it is a major music retailer) have lyrics sanitized for the delicate sensibilities of its customers. So for them to stock such a controversial book--and using such coy marketing language--also seems out of character. Perhaps the book department is run by different people.

I'm all for the availability of the Protocols--in an annotated edition that puts it in historical context.
posted by adamrice at 7:24 AM on September 27, 2004


Sorry, I should have said, Amazon makes it very clear that they do not consider the Protocols to be genuine:

Although it's a pernicious fraud, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion has unfortunately had a widespread influence--all of it evil--on the history of the 20th century. It was exposed as a hoax in 1921, yet it has been used as a justification for the Holocaust and for innumerable pogroms in Russia and the Soviet Union...

Nevertheless, Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain books because we believe their message repugnant, and we would be rightly criticized if we did so. Therefore, we will continue to make this book and other controversial works available in the United States and everywhere else, except where they are prohibited by law.

Furthermore, because we strongly believe that the appropriate response to repugnant speech is not censorship, but more speech, we will continue to allow readers, authors, and publishers to express their views about the books and other products we offer on our Web site.

posted by mdn at 7:29 AM on September 27, 2004


As IshmaelGraves pointed out above, Amazon despite having a strong caveat still uses this description (likely provided by the publisher) "If, however. The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs." They should be ashamed of themselves. Bezos should be ashamed. The customer review page has become a forum for spewing anti-Semitic filth. I will find it difficult to patronize either Walmart or Amazon in the future.
posted by caddis at 7:45 AM on September 27, 2004


I'm not surprised WalMart doesn't sell War & Peace or Tropic of Capricorn, the demand and availability is probably rather low.

I'd rather enjoy reading The Protocols, I read a lot of crap fiction for the black humour value.

I'd ask why they sell Bibles, but being the #1 best selling work of fiction says it all.
posted by DBAPaul at 7:47 AM on September 27, 2004


For them to carry "Protocols" with that outrageous "might be true, might not, who knows?" description, is anti-semitism, flat out, plain and simple.

agreed. it's appalling that a corporate giant that can certainly pay for some semi-literate editing, publishes ignorant shit like the "it might be true" comment.
to sell the Protocols without warning the few ignorant potential buyers who don't know that already that it's a proven ugly anti-Semitical fake, well, it's beyond the pale.

G_d knows corporate boycotts have happened for much less painful actions

but then, one doesn't easily see US right-wingers boycott a union-busting slave-labor megacorporation like Wal-Mart. and liberals should be boycotting Wal-Mart already, hence...
posted by matteo at 7:48 AM on September 27, 2004


Well, at least Mein Kampf is still for sale, right?

No? But you can read it here, online! And you can read most of the Protocols online, as well.

And a happy "Fuck y'all!" to you censorship freaks out there.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:48 AM on September 27, 2004


More to the point....Who the hell goes to Walmart to buy books?
posted by waltb555 at 8:02 AM on September 27, 2004


Amazing, Amazon just amended its book description page to remove the offensive blurb. It was there 25 minutes ago, and it is still in Google's cache, but now "poof" gone from Amazon. I am glad they are listening. I guess that they got some calls from reporters after the article in Reason.
posted by caddis at 8:15 AM on September 27, 2004


Obviously a lot of people buy books at Walmart. We have a huge Walmart here that has a built in grocery store. I bet there are people that do 99% of their shopping at it. Pick up the groceries, jean,s a t-shirt and a book to read. It's on the best seller list, so it's gotta be good!

I'll still argue that volume isn't what makes a place a major bookseller though (and I'm probably using the wrong term, maybe bookstore would be better). They sell a vast quantities of a handful of books.
posted by substrate at 8:21 AM on September 27, 2004


I used to work for a major chain bookstore, and just after Oklahoma City we recieved a shipment of The Turner Diaries. For a month or so, before the book was released, intercompany emails & memos were full of brou-ha-ha about whether or not we should even be carrying the book. It was eventually decided that we would but we weren't allowed to "display" it in anyway other than 2 copies at a time, spine out, on a regular shelf. This despite the fact that printed on the cover was a message saying "This book contains racist propoganda!" and that historical/cultural interest in the book was at an all time high.

Ironically, one of the t-shirts we employees were given to wear at hiring time read " I Read Banned Books."
posted by jonmc at 8:22 AM on September 27, 2004


As stated previously, the suprising thing is that Walmart carries it, as there's probably no good financial reason to do so. I've worked in booksales for more than 2 years and have never seen anyone order, ask about, or buy a copoy of the Protocols. Judging from the fact that people have ordered the Turner diaries, the anarchist cookbook, various books that try to argue that the evil nazis were gay, and other insidious books, I would think it's mainly because few people have an interest in reading it.

Walmart isn't a specialty bookstore and doesn't special order titles for customers. Instead, they fill their shelves with bestsellers and other books that will sell fast. I would think that the Protocals wouldn't normally be in this category.
posted by drezdn at 8:42 AM on September 27, 2004


Also, to call "Protocols" a "hoax" or a "fraud" or "forgery" is deeply inaccurate. A hoax or a fraud, like the recent George W. Bush air national guard letters, or the Hitler diaries, has to have at least some tiny, eensy-weensy basis in a factual matter -- that's what differentiates a hoax from a fiction. But "Protocols" is based on zero, nada, nothing. It's not a forged anything. It's a made up story. Its world is no more real than OZ. It's not even propaganda. It's fantasy.
posted by Faze at 8:49 AM on September 27, 2004


jon_kill: would you care to elaborate on what you thought was so ironic?
posted by caveday at 9:32 AM on September 27, 2004


jon_kill: would you care to elaborate on what you thought was so ironic?

not to speak for someone else, but I'd bet he thinks it's ironic that the poster said "given current trends" this is prudent, while many people feel that the "current trends" are toward restrictive policies, like, for instance, making certain publications harder to get hold of.

Personally, I absolutely agree that books should not be banned or even just "agreed not to be sold" by major booksellers. But:
a) walmart is not a major bookseller, and as I pointed out above, has a major deficit in ordinary classics which you could find at any major bookseller (& most local bookshops), so it's odd they'd choose to have this over tolstoy; and
b) selling a book that is simply a hate tract should absolutely be sold merely as a historical artifact, with clear disclaimers that explain the historical context and the debunking. Really, I would think these books would only be published in such contexts, and it's disappointing that by buying this edition, one is obviously supporting an anti-semitic publisher.
posted by mdn at 9:44 AM on September 27, 2004


I'm sorry Faze, but anything legitimately used to justify, encourage, and rationalize anti-semitism isn't a "fantasy". Your attempt to minimize the Protocols through semantics is absurd.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:44 AM on September 27, 2004


Naxo, I think you're missing Faze's point. He just means that technically speaking, it's not a "forgery" in the sense that it's a fake version of a real book or real events.
posted by cell divide at 9:52 AM on September 27, 2004


ho hum.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2004


banning lies isn't the same as banning free speech
posted by quarsan at 10:00 AM on September 27, 2004


"Books cannot be killed by fire. People die but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man's eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons." -- FDR

I don't have a lot good to say about Wal Mart, but I'm glad that hey made the book available. That said, the description that left the truth in doubt is monumentally inexcusable. Don't hate them for carrying the book. Hate them for being crass (or, more likely lax) enough to suggest the work's credible.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:07 AM on September 27, 2004


banning lies isn't the same as banning free speech

Yes, it is.
posted by jpoulos at 10:10 AM on September 27, 2004


Your attempt to minimize the Protocols through semantics is absurd.

Wa.. wa... why, I'd dare say it's racist!


banning lies isn't the same as banning free speech

That's not exactly true. If the lies are about a specific person (see: libel), and it cannot be adequately determined that they are lies (see: parody) then you're right.

If some crackhead wants to write a book about "killin' all the niggers," well let them go right on ahead. I've found the best way to minimize the impact of hate-speech is to ridicule the hell out of it in an open, public manner. Ever wonder why KKK membership is down? Ever since cities started allowing them to march in their own parades, where people can see just what a bunch of fools they really are.

And just to be clear, I hate Nazi's. Especially Illinois Nazis.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2004


Some people seem to have missed this part:
The description, now withdrawn from the Wal-Mart (WMT: Research, Estimates) Web site, said, "If ... The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs. We neither support nor deny its message. We simply make it available for those who wish a copy."

Walmart was advertising this book, not only on the website but in local papers (the Chicago Suntimes for example carried this same ad). They were actively promoting the book with a lie (the implication that the Protocols might be "genuine") that is ordinarily only taken seriously by neo-Nazi groups. If you don't see why that is upsetting, well, I don't know what else to say.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2004



Wasn't WalMart the place they were selling the 88/neo-nazi stuff too?
posted by amberglow at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2004


Wal-Mart can carry the damn thing if it wants, along with all the other crap they have that's an affront to good taste and civility, but they better well not describe it in those mealy mushy phrases that are so popularly used now to avoid critical thinking. Why, it's just controversial. There are two sides to everything! If this book is right, and we're not saying it is or isn't, you probably should keep an eye out for the Rabinowitzes next door before they take over your local economy or steal your baby for a Passover entree. Although I suppose that last one is a wee bit more editorializing.

I mean christamighty, isn't that language the real issue here? That we live in a culture so swamp-ignorant that it's easy to imagine Wal-Mart selling fucking Mein Kampf with the blurb: Controversial, passionate, larger-than-life Adolf Hitler, loved and hated by millions, tells HIS story in HIS words in this exciting jailhouse adventure!?

What we have here is a piece of fiction. The only truthful thing that I know about it is that it's helped to kill a lot of people. (And before someone here takes the daring comedic step of posting "just like the Bible!" I'm doing it for you so I can die laughing on my own schedule.) Its only purpose on this earth is to vilify and incite violence against the Jews. If I owned my own business, this is not how I would choose to make my money any more than I'd bury toxic waste under school yards, because it's wrong and disgusting to make money this way.

They can stock it and profit from it, because gosh, WalMart's known for selling all kinds of customer goods without careful selection or thought to its customer's sensibilities. It's odious enough they didn't think anyone in their customer base would care about this the way they would if they accidentally heard Missy Elliot rapping about her cooch. But since they shilled the thing with this wishy-washy language, they should well have expected to get their asses handed to them by anyone with an education and a conscience.
posted by melissa may at 11:10 AM on September 27, 2004


Wasn't WalMart the place they were selling the 88/neo-nazi stuff too?

No, that was Target.
posted by vorfeed at 11:24 AM on September 27, 2004


Walmart was advertising this book, not only on the website but in local papers (the Chicago Suntimes for example carried this same ad).

I don't think so...are you sure? I haven't seen anything about print advertisement for this title. Is there good evidence out there?

It seems more reasonable to assume that Wal Mart was doing what Amazon also obviously does (I saw the offensive blurb on amazon.com too)--mindlessly running publishers' blurbs for every title. This is automated--they don't have editors deciding on it or anyone trying to sell this title in particular.

The right thing to do is what amazon does--sell any book that's legal, removing any customer or publisher reviews that are inappropriate. (Don't kid yourself, Amazon, too, has to have stuff like this brought to their attention before adding that kind of unusual warning!)

What Civil_Disobedient said about ridiculous ideas being more harmless when they are viewed and discussed in well-lit public spaces. If the nasty anti-Semites could really claim "THE BOOK NOBODY IN AMERICA IS SUPPOSED TO BE READING," that would be instant credibility with their target audience. I mean, now that mathowie's proxies at the liberal café conspiracy have banned the Bible, I'm starting to take an interest.
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:33 AM on September 27, 2004


Controversial, passionate, larger-than-life Adolf Hitler, loved and hated by millions, tells HIS story in HIS words in this exciting jailhouse adventure!?

LOL...

And before someone here takes the daring comedic step of posting "just like the Bible!" I'm doing it for you so I can die laughing on my own schedule.

How is it a comedic step? You know, just because you beat us to the punch doesn't reduce the impact of the statement. Some interesting reading
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:44 AM on September 27, 2004


Good thing they've removed such a dangerous item. Now, let's all do something far less deadly, such as buy a gun.
posted by haqspan at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2004


I don't know a thing about the background of antisemitic publication, nor this book in particular, but if the book is long since discredited, what's all the fuss over its sale? Is it that these groups don't want the book to be available at all, anywhere, to anyone, or just that they don't think Wal-Mart should sell it?

Or is it that they simply don't want Wal-Mart to sell it with the wishy-washy disclaimer?
posted by majick at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2004


Or is it that they simply don't want Wal-Mart to sell it with the wishy-washy disclaimer?

If only there were some way of find this out. If only the offended groups were to make it known in some way if they were upset with the fact that there was no disclaimer and in fact seeming endorsement of the book, or the fact that the book was being sold in the first place.

I guess we'll never know.

Unless you read the god damn article of course.

(anti-defamation league spokesman)
Foxman told Reuters that while he did not think he should tell Wal-Mart what it should sell, the company should have made it clear that the book was "a hateful anti-Semitic forgery. It was projected as a legitimate historic book. If it was going to be sold, it should be sold responsibly."

posted by Bonzai at 2:46 PM on September 27, 2004


or, how i stopped worrying and learned to love anti-semitism
posted by Satapher at 4:48 PM on September 27, 2004


...we recieved a shipment of The Turner Diaries ... printed on the cover was a message saying "This book contains racist propoganda!"

I've seen this on copies of the Turner Diaries, and always wondered about it -- it's a fairly recent book, and therefore must still be under copyright, correct? Why would its author -- who presumably believes his own bullshit -- allow it to be sold with such a warning? Or has the copyright been bought in toto by its publishers?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:50 PM on September 27, 2004


I must be missing something. A retailer decides not to sell a book and suddenly it's 'banned' and 'censored'?

Firstly, it's not banned. It's readily available to anyone who cares enough to look for it. Secondly, a store choosing not to sell something does not imply censorship. It's a simple business decision and obviously the sales of the book are not worth the negative word-of-mouth. I find that post-Apocalyptic Christian nonsense just as offensive, yet that crap sells like hotcakes and hence remains on the shelves.

As far as Wal-Mart advertising it in local papers, I call bullshit.

"If it was going to be sold, it should be sold responsibly."

This is gibberish. It's a book -- not a gun, not a giant bottle of Scotch and not a backhoe. Myself, I'd rather not see warning labels on books. Unless your going to pick the thing up and beat a few Jews to death with it it remains words on paper. Offensive, hateful and misguided words, but still words and paper.

Hundreds of books have been used as excuses by the weak minded to inflict injury on others (and yeah, the Bible is right up in the top five with a bullet), that is a failing of the nitwits who cannot separate reality from, as Faze said, fantasy. Books don't kill, people do.

Well, off to Wal-Mart, I see I'm low on ammo and beer.
posted by cedar at 5:51 PM on September 27, 2004


or, how i stopped worrying and learned to love anti-semitism

That is the really odd thing that strikes me about this whole discussion - the number of people who do not seem concerned that vile hate mongering tracts such as this are being promoted by well established businesses. At least Amazon has taken pains to identify the controversy surrounding the text. Walmart, like some of the posters here, just remains clueless as to what is wrong. What if Walmart was promoting KKK literature, Little Black Sambo toys, KKK Halloween costumes, or literature espousing the intellectual inferiority of people of African descent? This place would explode with fury. Why is it that for many liberals, Jews are easy to hate?
posted by caddis at 6:12 PM on September 27, 2004


Why would its author -- who presumably believes his own bullshit -- allow it to be sold with such a warning? Or has the copyright been bought in toto by its publishers?

The author is dead. And he proudly called himself a racist. And maybe he figured that the warning was a small price to pay for the chance to spread his philosophy, vile as it is, on the off chance that he'd gain some converts.
posted by jonmc at 6:20 PM on September 27, 2004


"...being promoted by well established businesses."

I think there is a difference between selling something and 'promoting' it. Noteworthy is the fact that most of us only became aware of this when Wal-Mart stopped selling it.

As long as we're talking about books I fully support the selling of KKK literature or books 'espousing the intellectual inferiority of people [insert your group of choice]'. The same way the ACLU supports the Klans right to march. We may not like what they say but they are allowed to say it.

"Why is it that for many liberals, Jews are easy to hate?"

Why is it that supporting the right of business to sell, or not sell, a book equals hating Jews?

Getting in the Halloween spirit early by stuffing that man with straw?
posted by cedar at 6:24 PM on September 27, 2004


Why is it that for many liberals, Jews are easy to hate?

Yeah, it's liberals who hate jews. Probably because liberals are so notoriously religious. That might also explain why you never see any jews among the ranks of liberals.

Seriously, are you baiting, retarded, or did you just skim the thread? No one has said Wal Mart's description of the book is acceptable. A few reactionaries shat their polyester pants because they equate selection of warehouse stock with censorship (even though no government is involved) or decided that not editing a vicious publishers' blurb is akin to suggesting that all jews be herded up and executed.

However, you were the first person to single out a group and accuse them of anti-semitism because they weren't as outraged as you insist they be. I can't tell if you're a megalomaniac or just of diminshed mental capacity.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:36 PM on September 27, 2004


cedar - You promote hate literature? I think you are confusing free speech concepts. I would not want the government coming in to stop Walmart from selling hate literature. The government can not be trusted in these matters. That is what the First Amendment is all about. However, the speech is still hate speech, whether legal or not. It is still vile. It is still wrong. Fully supporting the "selling of KKK literature is tantamount to supporting the KKK - your contributions are not tax deductible. We can be opposed to government censorship yet opposed to the largest retailer in the US promoting anti-Semitic trash.

Mayor - I suggest you reread the thread. There is an undercurrent of indifference to the promotion of hate literature. My point - I do not think we would see that indifference if the group under attack was not the Jews.
posted by caddis at 6:45 PM on September 27, 2004


caddis: "However, the speech is still hate speech, whether legal or not. It is still vile. It is still wrong."

I don't think anyone is debating this. I couldn't agree more.


"Fully supporting the selling of KKK literature is tantamount to supporting the KKK..."

No, it's not. If I bought it you might have a case, but I'm far too busy reading porn to bother with that drivel.
posted by cedar at 6:53 PM on September 27, 2004


Walmart self censors your porn, just not your hate literature. Go figure.
posted by caddis at 7:07 PM on September 27, 2004


My point - I do not think we would see that indifference if the group under attack was not the Jews.

So indifference to a hurtful advertisement equals hate? Unless you retract one of your last statements, that's what you've said.

Walmart self censors your porn, just not your hate literature. Go figure.

They don't censor anything. The either sell products or they don't sell them. Walmart would sell heroin or white children if there was money to be made, no regulation against it, and insufficient public outcry. Walmart is "evil" because its self-interested and amoral, not because it pals around with Mussolini like you want it to.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:16 PM on September 27, 2004


Walmart definitely self censors. Try and get cop killer CDs onto their shelves, or CDs with strong language. If you are in the market for Eminem, look elsewhere. However, if you want to find books on why the Jews should be hated, then Walmart it is.
posted by caddis at 7:20 PM on September 27, 2004


This week at Walmart - vicious turn of the last century anti-semitic propaganda concocted by Tsarist secret police.........20% off!
posted by troutfishing at 7:50 PM on September 27, 2004


caddis, you skipped over the other part of my previous post:

So indifference to a hurtful advertisement equals hate? Unless you retract one of your last statements, that's what you've said.

So does it, or do you take something back? Or do you pull a Bligh and claim that I'm misunderstanding you?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:01 PM on September 27, 2004


I don't know a thing about the background of antisemitic publication, nor this book in particular, but if the book is long since discredited, what's all the fuss over its sale?

didn't you just answer your own question? If you didn't know a thing about this book, how would you have known it was long since discredited if the edition and the seller merely said something about there being some controversy over its basis, and that it "could never be proven" which implies as well that it could never be disproven...? The point is, people unfamiliar with the book, who find it presented this way, may take it seriously.

This is gibberish. It's a book -- not a gun, not a giant bottle of Scotch and not a backhoe. Myself, I'd rather not see warning labels on books. Unless your going to pick the thing up and beat a few Jews to death with it it remains words on paper. Offensive, hateful and misguided words, but still words and paper.

that is easy to say, but simply not true. Words, whether on a page or otherwise, are how human beings navigate the world. The ideas that are expressed around you, the books you read, the people you talk to, the movies & tv you watch, all contribute to how you think, and in a wider context, how your whole community thinks. If you're the type to question things - and this is often because you were encouraged in this direction, although I will agree that some people simply have a questioning nature - you might find the book suspicious and look things up, etc. But if you kinda lean toward anti-semitism anyway, and you find this book at yr local walmart, presented as a legitimate text, your ideas will be reinforced, and you will thereby reinforce any tendencies among your community in that direction, and unless there are interventions of people who actively fight this attitude, you get a positive feedback loop in a really negative direction...
posted by mdn at 8:20 PM on September 27, 2004


The book selection at Walmart is much larger than I thought it would be, having read mdn's comment upthread. They do, for example, carry War and Peace - 12 different editions. And while they don't have Tropic of Capricorn, they do have about 20 of Henry Miller's other books. They claim to have over 600,000 titles. I very much doubt that someone at Walmart is carefully selecting these titles or vetting the Publisher's blurbs.
posted by sheila t at 8:31 PM on September 27, 2004


the speech is still hate speech, whether legal or not. It is still vile. It is still wrong

Wrong? Here's 5 cents for a clue: don't buy it, then.

But if you kinda lean toward anti-semitism anyway[...]

...then you'll look for things to confirm your prejudices anywhere you can find them. Not just at Wal-Mart. That asshole that cut you off in traffic -- a damned jew. The guy who got the promotion instead of you? Jew. That cop that pulled you over doing 60 in a school-zone? Jew-riffic!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:19 PM on September 27, 2004


cedar - "It's a book -- not a gun, not a giant bottle of Scotch and not a backhoe."
Precisely correct. And therefore it is far more dangerous than any gun, alcoholic beverage or agricultural implement.
Words are magic. They change the world, they make it larger by providing us with new ways to see it, or they make it smaller by damaging the ways we perceive it.
As far as I'm concerned Walmart can sell this vile and stupid book if they want. What they cannot do is lie about its provenance and intent, which is what they were doing.
"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" may just be a collection of words, arranged in a certain order and printed on tree pulp, but it had vastly more effect on the world than all the spells of the Renaissance magicians put together. It is a magical book (all books are) and the only way to draw its power is to know what it is and what it was intended for.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:27 AM on September 28, 2004


Mayor - You are right, hate was too strong a word. I think the anti-Semitism appearing on the left is much more subtle than that. Can indifference in the face of injustice equate to racism (and anti-Semitism is just another form of racism)? I believe so. General acceptance of "separate but equal" was just this kind of racism. Walmart has a legal right to market the book, but marketing it in the fashion they did amounted to promotion of anti-Semitism. Why would someone be indifferent to such action?
posted by caddis at 8:53 AM on September 28, 2004


They do, for example, carry War and Peace - 12 different editions.

? okay - I did a search and all it turned up was the cliff notes. I guess it was just a bad search; sorry about that.

They claim to have over 600,000 titles. I very much doubt that someone at Walmart is carefully selecting these titles or vetting the Publisher's blurbs.

Well, I guess the online store can handle larger selections (i'm sure they don't carry so many titles in their actual stores). Of course, it's still only a tenth of amazon's titles, and amazon manages to write accurate disclaimers, so I don't think that gets walmart off the hook.

...then you'll look for things to confirm your prejudices anywhere you can find them.

people influence people. I'm sorry, but human beings are not isolated brains that form all opinions and attitudes without being affected by the ideas around them. Yes, some people will already have deeply ingrained beliefs that won't be significantly altered by coming across a book they'd never heard of. Other people will just have a vague propensity, a low level racism that doesn't come through much, or whatever. A book doesn't have to radically change everything in order to cause significant tendencies or choices to be adopted. The difference between thinking things and saying things out loud; the difference between saying things and committing acts of vandalism - there are degrees of racism, and people can definitely be encouraged in one direction or the other by their environment and society.

An obvious example is how much more acceptable being gay is to most americans after a flood of news, queer themed entertainment, public outings, and pride celebrations. Media (and books are a medium) makes a difference in the way people think.
posted by mdn at 9:14 PM on September 28, 2004


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