Banned Books Week Official Has No Sympathy for Revisionist Books Banned by Amazon

Published: 2017-10-11

In the wake of our article on “Books Banned by Banned Books Week”—concerning “Holocaust denial” volumes policed out of the banned category—we received an e-mail from James LaRue, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, which administers Banned Books Week. This organization appears to mainly promote the freedom to read proscribed books that don’t threaten the canon of Leftist ideology. Conservatives who are critical of publications that undermine traditional values are usually the villains in this rigged morality theatre. In the case at hand, revisionist authors who cast doubt on aspects of the Establishment’s hallowed historical dogmas have virtually no presence in Banned Books Week. The American Library Association (ALA) and the American Booksellers Association are engaged in a cynical ruse, posing as champions of all banned books while almost exclusively promoting as banned those volumes which do not challenge the Leftist, or in this instance, the Zionist agenda.

In responding to this writer’s column, Mr. LaRue wrote, “Banned Books Week reports on challenges - attempts to remove or restrict access - to books held by publicly funded libraries and schools. Amazon, not publicly funded, not a library, falls completely outside of the scope of our work. Private businesses can carry, or not carry, any merchandise they choose to.”

If we understand Mr. LaRue correctly, he and the ALA have zero interest in banned books when they are suppressed by bookstores as part of a commercial enterprise. LaRue’s insouciance with regard to the many dozens of revisionist books banned last February by Amazon.com at the behest of the World Jewish Congress, belies the public pose of the American Library Association and its “Freedom to Read Foundation” (FTRF), as expressed in 1970 by Judith Krug, in her articulation of its founding mandate: “To promote and protect freedom of speech and press...and...the public right to hear what is spoken and read what is written...”

Whether or not libraries and schools are the focus, for the “Office for Intellectual Freedom” and the “Freedom to Read Foundation” to be indifferent to the fate of any other banned book in any other setting than libraries and schools, would probably be news to the majority of the public who are the intended audience for Banned Books Week, which in its 2017 advertising depicted a clenched fist and the slogan, “Stand for the Banned.” Other catchphrases employed officially include, “Our Right to Read," "Stand for Intellectual Freedom,” and “Words Have Power: Read a Banned Book.” There are no “fine-print” disclaimers accompanying these mantras, which are printed on bags, cups and bumper stickers sold by the ALA — stating that these noble sentiments apply only to books forbidden by public libraries and schools. 

The “Stand for the Banned” message is without qualification and is apt to beguile donors and supporters who have no inkling of how circumscribed and shuttered it actually is. They have no idea, for example, that the director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom engages in what might be characterized as unseemly gloating over the commercial suppression of demonized books.  In his e-mail, James LaRue wrote, “...you do not have the right to demand public or commercial platforms for them (your opinions). There is harsh competition in the marketplace of ideas. There are winners, and speaking of obsessive, willfully ignorant anti-Semitism, there are losers.”

(Note well his words about willful ignorance. We will return to them shortly).

An official of the American Library Association who oversees Banned Books Week offers no lament for the banned books that are “losers” in “the marketplace of ideas.” Once again we are in the realm of the surreal. How does such an attitude advance the ALA’s goals of “Intellectual Freedom” and its apothegm, “Stand for the Banned”? When it comes to the suppression of World War II revisionist histories the American Library Association is firmly seated. Rather than hewing to liberty in all instances and across all categories, the ALA is taking the side of those who would marginalize books branded with the pejorative “anti-Semitism” stigma, which in some cases is little more than a witch-hunting canard intended to smear heretical works authored by learned non-conformists who are seeking to compete for the attention of readers in the “marketplace of ideas.” 

We would have thought that an organization bearing the lofty title, “Office for Intellectual Freedom,” and whose slogan is “Words Have Power: Read a Banned Book,” would respond by stating that while Amazon’s ban on World War II revisionist books was outside the immediate purview of the ALA’s Banned Books Week, they unequivocally regret and protest Amazon’s censorship, while recognizing that commercial operations may do as they please in this regard.

James LaRue

Commerce has not yet trumped ethics in America — or has it, as far as the nation’s teachers and librarians are concerned? LaRue’s snide satisfaction with Amazon’s suppression of authors too far out even for Banned Books Week reflects the ALA’s Leftist predilection for masquerading as freedom-lovers the better to render invisible politically incorrect writers whose freedom to be read has been abridged not so much by the free market as by monopoly forces within that market. Given the opportunity to compete freely by enjoying wide access to the world’s readers, revisionist books would become best-sellers. This can’t be allowed and Mr. LaRue tells us why: “...the lack of commercial interest in ‘contrarian’ or ‘revisionist’ histories of the Holocaust reflects their flat out falsity, their lack of scholarly rigor, and the transparent bigotry that guides them.”

There you have it. With regard to banned books judged by the Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom to be false, lacking in “scholarly rigor” and suffused with “transparent bigotry,” it is neither reprehensible nor an occasion for protest when the Largest Bookstore on Planet Earth forbids their sale. Somehow this dictum of the Inquisition (that “error” has no rights), looks a tad contradictory and at cross-purposes with the official freedom philosophy sold to the public by Banned Books Week and its virtue-signaling sponsors.  

In light of Mr. LaRue’s remark about “willful ignorance,” we contacted him concerning which revisionist books he had read that caused him to assess them so caustically. Surely he was not “willfully ignorant” of their contents? We asked him: “With regard to your assessment of the whole corpus of WWII revisionist historiography in terms of ‘...their flat out falsity, their lack of scholarly rigor, and the transparent bigotry...’ have you ever actually read a book by one of the leading writers in the genre, such as Arthur R. Butz, Carlo Mattogno, Robert Faurisson or Germar Rudolf? If so, which one(s)? If not, I include a link to a .pdf file containing the complete text of Mr. Rudolf’s banned book, should you wish to undertake the obligation of perusing what you have so severely reproved: http://holocausthandbooks.com/dl/15-loth.pdf.”

Mr. LaRue did not scruple to reply.

(LaRue would allow us to publish his remarks only if we printed them in full, and we do so herewith: “First, I have never spoken with the author of this article. I don't know who the ‘we’ is he refers to - unless it was the woman who last week demanded of one of my staff to know my ‘ethnic background,’ complained about a picture of a dreadlocked black man on the American library Association website, then made childish and incoherent remarks about Jews on Twitter. If she is aligned with your cause, she is not a credible investigator or representative. Second, as we make clear on our website and in press releases, Banned Books Week reports on challenges - attempts to remove or restrict access - to books held by publicly funded libraries and schools. Amazon, not publicly funded, not a library, falls completely outside of the scope of our work. Private businesses can carry, or not carry, any merchandise they choose to. To describe this as some kind of conspiracy on the part of the Left is...novel. Third, the lack of commercial interest in  ‘contrarian’ or ‘revisionist’ histories of the Holocaust reflects their flat out falsity, their lack of scholarly rigor, and the transparent bigotry that guides them. But the idea of conspiracies may be more comforting to you. Fourth, you have the right to your opinions. But you do not have the right to demand public or commercial platforms for them. There is harsh competition in the marketplace of ideas. There are winners, and speaking of obsessive, willfully ignorant anti-Semitism, there are losers.” James LaRue ALA / FTRF, October 7, 2017).

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Author(s) Michael A. Hoffman
Title Banned Books Week Official Has No Sympathy for Revisionist Books Banned by Amazon
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Dates published: 2017-10-11, first posted on CODOH: Oct. 11, 2017, 11:06 a.m., last revision: n/a
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