[This article was written for the Unz Review]
A couple of months ago I did an interview with one of the foremost scholars of rabbinical Judaism, Michael Hoffman. The occasion was the release of his latest book “The Occult Renaissance Church of Rome”. At the time I did not expect to have to ask for a follow-up interview with him, but when I learned that Amazon had censored his books (please see Hoffman’s own account of this here). Specifically, the ban is on three of his books. A complete ban (Kindle + printed book) on Judaism’s Strange Gods: Revised and Expanded, as well as The Great Holocaust Trial: Revised and Expanded, while his textbook, Judaism Discovered, has been removed from the Kindle. I felt that I had to talk to him again and he kindly agreed to reply to my questions. I submit to you the full text of our Q&A which I will follow-up with a short commentary.
The Saker: Please summarize what happened to your books and Amazon and tells us what specific explanations were given to you. Did Amazon ever offer you a “page and paragraph” list of “offending” passages? Do you have any means of knowing exactly what your book is being banned for?
Hoffman: Whether it is Facebook, Google or Amazon, the excuse most often cited for suppression is “content guidelines’ violation.” Amazon notified us on August 13 that two of our titles, which they have been selling for years and in thousands of copies, Judaism Discovered, our 1100 page textbook published in 2008, and Judaism’s Strange Gods: Revised and Expanded, published in 2010 — were being permanently removed after “review” by the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) unit of Amazon. A facsimile of the KDP notice can be viewed here:
In their e-mail they told us that “…we found that this content is in violation of content guidelines.” In studying their content guidelines one encounters a vague, generic statement about not permitting that which is “offensive.” There is no guidance as to what “offense” has suddenly arisen after these books were sold on Amazon for several years. Like the Red Queen in Wonderland who declared to Alice that, “A word is anything I say it is!” — that which “offends” is anything Amazon says it is. A third book, The Great Holocaust Trial: The Landmark Battle for the Right to Doubt the West’s Most Sacred Relic, was also forbidden.
Does Amazon have the chutzpah to publicly categorize these books as “hate speech” or some other alibi for censorship that could be contested? No, they do not. They leave authors and publishers twisting in the wind, making it more difficult to appeal the decision and report to the public on the tyranny. Although since they allow no appeal, it’s a moot point. Personally, I have no doubt concerning why my books were censored.
The Saker: What is, in your opinion, the true intent behind the ban on the sales of your book? What is Amazon’s interest in this?
Hoffman: I don’t believe Amazon has much interest in this. It is more likely that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SLC) is the interested party. Last August 7 the New York Times online published a revealing piece by David French in which he wrote: “We live in a world where the Southern Poverty Law Center, a formerly respected civil-rights organization, abuses its past trust to label a host of mainstream organizations (including my former employer, the Alliance Defending Freedom) and individuals as ‘hate groups,…based sometimes on…outright misreadings and misrepresentations of an individual’s beliefs and views…Amazon recently booted Alliance Defending Freedom from its AmazonSmile charity program because of the center’s designation.”
At around the time in 2017 that the SPLC was trying to interfere with the business operations of people such as myself, by intimidating banks and credit card processors into refusing to process payments for books, Paypal notified us that due to the contents of our website (www.RevisionistHistory.org) we were an embarrassment to their brand and they were terminating our account. As long as Paypal was owned by libertarians, all was well and we had a high customer satisfaction rating for our integrity and dependability. The original Paypal mainly cared about whether you were a responsible seller. A politicized administration eventually took over Paypal and in 2017 we were terminated, very likely on the “advice” of the SPLC.
To return to Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos founded it in 1994. It was very much a libertarian book operation from the start. From 1994 until a year or two ago, Amazon only refused to sell hard core pornography and books that constituted direct appeals to violence or law-breaking, which is how it should be. Every other type of book was sold, without censorship, which is one reason for Amazon’s early success and increasing market share. Then last year, after Mr. Bezos had reached the status of one of the world’s wealthiest persons, and Amazon’s total value was beginning to approach that of Apple and Google, Amazon staged a huge purge and eliminated more than a hundred World War II revisionist history books published by Germar Rudolf’s CODOH organization (books smeared as “Holocaust denial”). This year it was my turn. Next year it might be any author not part of the university press syndicates or the major houses. Such is the heedless power and immunity of Amazon.
It’s important to note that the thought police who removed three of my books were based in the digital division of Amazon, where the electronic Kindle books are marketed and managed. A Kindle permits anyone connected to the Amazon website to read approximately the first thirty pages of any Kindle book free of charge. Consequently, my Judaica scholarship was on display around the world and therefore it was much harder to lie about me and mischaracterize my Talmud and Kabbalah research under those circumstances.
We were also beginning to sell ever increasing numbers of these Kindle books to people in Asia, particularly India and Japan. It’s my hunch that Big Brother is not half so worried about printed books as the digital kind. Removing the three books from the Kindle was the primary objective.
To be banned by Amazon is not equivalent to being banned by any other private business. Most publishers will admit that Amazon has replaced Bowker Books in Print as the industry’s authoritative guide to what books in English have been printed in the past and what is in print now. Amazon is currently the reference source. For a book to be forbidden by Amazon renders it largely invisible. It is equivalent to burning the book. So this is not a matter of Amazon exercising the prerogative of private enterprise. Amazon is a monopoly. It has no rival. If your book doesn’t exist on Amazon, then for most people who are not research specialists, your book doesn’t exist. The consequences for the pursuit of knowledge are ominous.
There is a problem here for Amazon as well. The more Amazon excludes books that embody facts and ideas that constitute radical dissent, the more it becomes a narrow censor’s aperture rather than a reliable bridge to the entire range of the Republic of Letters.
Apologists for censorship of radicals and authentic conservatives often claim that no First Amendment rights are violated when Amazon bans books, therefore it is not a civil rights issue, merely an inconvenience of the capitalist system. In the 1950s however, when the privately-owned movie studios banned certain directors, actors and screen-writers judged to be Leftists or Communists, that action on the part of private enterprise was inscribed in the rolls of the culture wars as the infamous “Blacklist,” and we are still reading and weeping over it sixty-five years later. So it depends on whose ox is being gored.
My Judaica studies are free of “Jew hate,” as anyone who peruses the sections in both books titled “To the Judaic Reader” knows. There we state that the books are dedicated to pidyon shevyuim (redemption of the captive), i.e. rescuing those Judaic persons who are in bondage to the Talmud and the Kabbalah.
Our enemies easily turn to their advantage books containing hatred of “The Jews.” What they absolutely have no credible answer to is a critique predicated, as our books are, on a sincere foundation of true Christian love. Boundary-breaking scholarship united to compassionate concern for the welfare of Judaic people is almost unprecedented in this field. This approach makes my studies of Judaism among the most powerful and effective because they are free of the “hate speech” which is the pivot upon which turns the machinery of liberal-approved censorship. For that reason, making Judaism’s Strange Gods: Revised and Expanded, and Judaism Discovered available on the Kindle undercut decades of hatred and libel. Therefore those volumes had to be suppressed.
The Saker: Since this ban was put in place – what reactions have you heard? who has spoken in defense of your scholarship and right to be heard? has anybody taken your defense or spoken up for you?
Hoffman: Ron Unz allowed me to publish a note on the ban at unz.com and you, the Saker, have taken an interest. Our many friends, readers and subscribers have expressed outrage on Twitter and in e-mail. Meanwhile we have contacted everyone from a columnist for Taki’s website to the legacy media, to no discernible effect thus far. The Washington Post, which is owned by Mr. Bezos, has as its motto, “Democracy dies in darkness.” Yet it is in that very darkness where Amazon’s book-banning dwells, due to the apathy of the media and the American Library Association. To ban books by a vulnerable independent scholar is not exactly a daring move in this age where “hate speech” is anything that offends someone’s cherished myth. The definition is so loose it functions as an inquisitor’s sword.
On the positive side, we have seen an uptick in orders to our own online store for the printed books which Amazon has banned [https://truthfulhistory.blogspot.com/2016/02/judaica-books-and-resources.html]. There is no replacement for the banned Kindle editions, however.
The Saker: What do you believe could be done to resist this state of affairs? what can we all do to put at stop to this kind of censorship?
Hoffman: In a general, the supporters of the lies of the Overlords wage spiritual and psychological warfare with far more dedication, commitment and self-sacrifice than the purported allies of God’s truth. The Cryptocracy’s defenders are 24/7 militants resolved to contend with their perceived foes with every ounce of their being. Whereas on the side of Christian conservative renewal, with honorable exceptions, I find mainly armchair warriors and folks so enormously distracted by the choices offered by the Internet’s deluge of words and images, that they are nearly paralyzed by the spectacle.
Compare the reception Judge Kavanaugh received in the Senate hearings with that of recent Supreme Court nominees Kagan and Ginsburg. The Republicans were too cowed to seriously confront those ladies. Maintaining decorum was the chief concern of the timid GOP at the time, while Kavanaugh faced a near riot in the visitor’s gallery and extremes of withering interrogation and contempt from defiant Democratic senators.
When CODOH’s books were banned we reported the case extensively online and in our printed newsletter. We contacted an executive with the American Library Association to elicit his response and express our outrage. We did what we could even though we have almost no relationship with CODOH. We would do the same for any person of good will who is denied the right to advance human learning with suppressed facts and ideas. This was formerly a truism in America, up until the rise of the punks of social media who seem to be more like a branch of Antifa than an intellectual class invested in discovery and enlightenment.
Advances in human knowledge are achieved on the basis that “error has rights,” for the reason that enshrined dogmas are often wrong and demonized dissidents are sometimes the bearers of rare discoveries. But the epigram of our time is “Error has no rights,” which was the doctrine of the fiery Inquisition, of the head-chopping French Revolution and of the Bolsheviks and Maoists. If error has no rights then neither does truth, in that what is denounced as hateful error by the mob is sometimes a destabilizing, necessary and even cosmic truth.
Reading Hoffman’s words I thought that what happened to him is so typical of the Orwellian world we live in where the what I call the “Skripal rules of evidence” (aka “highly likely”) have replaced even basic evidentiary notions, a world in which false flag attacks are announced weeks in advance, a world in which the Planetary Hegemon has declared urbi et orbi that nothing in the body of international law applies to the “indispensable nation” (or to the parasitic host feeding off it) and where “might makes right” has become the motto by which everybody lives. Of course, the censorship of a book cannot be compared to the initiation of a war of aggression (which is the “supreme international crime” under international law: this was the conclusion of the Nuremberg Trial on this topic: To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole). Still, there is something uniquely devious and evil about the censorship of Hoffman’s books by Amazon, several things in fact:
- What is attacked in not a person or even a group, but ideas, arguably the most precious attribute of mankind. This is therefore not only an attack on a human being, but an attack on the very notion of humanity as such
- While the method is different, the intention here is no different from the book burnings of the Nazis or the Papacy except that in these latter cases it was obvious who ordered the burning of putatively “degenerate” or “heretical” books. Thus the ideological motive of the Nazis and Papists was always clear whereas in the case of Hoffman this ideological motive is hidden (even if obvious with anybody with a modicum of intelligence).
- The ultimate hypocrisy lies in the fact that most so-called libertarians (from the Left to the Right) have nothing to say about this because this is not a case of censorship by government but the action of a corporation which has the “right” to do as it wishes, nevermind that the result is still a clear de-facto infringement of Hoffman’s First Amendment rights and the freedom of academic scholarship.
- The US government and Congress, by allowing monopolistic corporations such as Amazon to have that kind of power are basically engaging in what I would call “censorship by proxy” which is to be expected from a deep state which now does almost everything by proxy in order to bypass fundamental US and international laws (“extraordinary renditions” anybody?).
- Unlike the government which does have to produce at least some evidence before it can censor an individual or organization, a US corporation does not even have to justify itself by a single word. This is viewed as a triumph of deregulation by mindless libertarians who would gladly surrender all their freedoms as long as it is not to the state. In the real world, of course, they still end up handing over their freedoms to the state, except that the state is hiding behind their beloved corporations.
It is also pretty obvious that those who might, at least in theory, have something to say about this kind of censorship by proxy remain silent because, at least according to them, Hoffman is an “anti-Semite” (which, having read many of his books, I can attest is a total falsehood; by way of evidence here are sample pages from his book: https://twitter.com/HoffmanMichaelA/status/1039159686233088000) and thus he is undeserving of support. So-called “anti-Semites” are, along with the pedophiles, the “consensus villains” of the day (I explain that in detail here) but what the anti-anti-Semites fail to realize is that each time a “consensus villain” is deprived from his rights, this sets a precedent for everybody else. This is why Yehuda Bauer warned us when he wrote: “Thou shalt not be a victim, Thou shalt not be a perpetrator, And above all, Thou shalt not be a bystander”. To no avail, alas: we live in society of silent bystanders apparently! And when YouTube decides to silence all the Syrian state channels to better prepare for a false flag chemical attack, everybody looks away – “ain’t my problem”…
We all know that in Europe (and in Russia) you can be jailed and your books banned if a court finds them to be “revisionist” or “anti-Semitic” or “hateful” and the like. But at least in Europe (and in Russia), you get your day in court and you can defend yourself against accusations which the state has to prove. In Russia, just last week, a man accused of “rehabilitating National-Socialism” (for reprinting an article by another author!) was found non guilty by a majority of jurors (5 to 3) (the punishment he was facing was a fine and several years in jail). Thank God, in the “home of the brave” no such thing could happen, right?!
True, Hoffman does not risk jail (yet!). But in terms of crushing crimethink, I submit that the US system is much more effective because it allows the deep state to hide behind the veil of corporate malfeasance. There have been plenty of revolutions against a state, but I don’t know of any revolutions against the corporate dictatorship.
You tell me: which is worse, the absence of freedom or the illusion of freedom?
Personally, I find the latter *much* worse.
I never expected the corporate presstitutes to really care about our freedoms, ditto for the libertarians and the progressive Left. They are all too busy with their narrow ideological agenda. As for the US academic world, it has shown its true face when it allowed the persecution of Professor Norman Finkenstein. But I have to say that I am shocked by the fact that the blogosphere and the so-called “alternative media” has remained so silent in the face of such a blatant censorship by proxy by the deep state against one of the foremost US historians.