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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tesco and the Protocols

Stopthebnp.org has an interesting piece on Tescos supermarkets selling dubious literature through it's website. Now I can kind of understand Amazon selling all kinds of books, but what is it with supermarkets and race hate literature? This has happened in the States as well!

Tesco, Britain's leading supermarket, has promised to stop selling Nazi books following representations by Searchlight.

A Searchlight investigator was surprised and horrified to find a wide range of hardcore Nazi and antisemitic literature for sale on Tesco's website. The books included The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a 19th century forgery that purports to prove that Jews plotted to take over the world. The Protocols was one of the main weapons in Hitler's propaganda campaign against the Jews, which laid the groundwork for his "Final Solution".

The book is still a principal propaganda weapon of Nazis and other antisemites and is normally only distributed by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, outright Nazis, a few Islamist groups and Holocaust deniers. Tesco has a choice of three different editions.

Another staple text of Hitler's Nazis and modern antisemites is Henry Ford's The International Jew. All its four volumes were on sale at Tesco in a list of 22 books from the US far-right publisher Liberty Bell. Other authors included George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party until he was shot dead in 1967; Revilo P Oliver, who was a US racist writer; Corneliu Codreanu, pre-war leader of the Romanian fascist Iron Guard; and Harold Covington, a notorious US Nazi and racist.

Britain's Nazis were over the moon when they found their favourite books openly on sale. Posting a link direct to the Liberty Bell list on Tesco's website, the administrators of the Nazi Blood and Honour guestbook tried to justify buying from what Nazis see as a Jewish company. "Great stuff," wrote "Admin", "so what if it's a yid firm, we'd starve to death if we didn't put some money some yid's way at least once in a while, who makes the profits on petrol for instance?"

Hardly able to believe their eyes, "Admin" continued: "These are all NS [national socialist] books, besides the Henry Ford, RP Oliver titles and those by Commander Rockwell, there's also Germany's Hitler which shows his war record and why the Fuhrer REALLY won the Iron Cross twice, because of his bravery on the battlefront and not the Hollywood version. Worth buying and who cares if a kike is flogging it. Amazingly they sell the Protocols as well!!!"

When Searchlight challenged Tesco, a spokesperson explained that any book published in the UK was automatically listed. However the company was taking this very seriously and was particularly concerned by the link from the Nazi website. Later she told Searchlight that the decision had been made to remove all books by Liberty Bell because of the nature of their content.

We can perhaps pass over the fact that Liberty Bell is a US not a UK publisher. But can Tesco be so naïve as to think it is acceptable to sell any book that is published without any regard for whether its content contravenes the law or is offensive?

Further research by Searchlight threw up a list of 106 books from Steven Books. This British-based publisher and book distributor is a front for Keith Thompson, the man who ran the elite hardline Nazi group, the League of St George. Thompson also operates the booklists for a number of far-right organisations including the November 9th Society, whose leader, Kevin Quinn, was convicted at the Old Bailey in November for possession of material likely to incite race hate.

The Steven Books list includes works by John Amery and William Joyce, nicknamed "Lord Haw Haw". Both men were hanged a few months after the end of the war for making radio broadcasts for Hitler – Amery also for recruiting British prisoners of war as volunteers for the British SS unit the Legion of St George.

Three books are by Arnold Leese, the pre-war British Nazi leader, who was imprisoned in the 1930s for his antisemitic writings and again at the end of the war for aiding escaped SS POWs.

There are several books by Sir Oswald Mosley, the British fascist leader, and titles by Jeffrey Hamm, who was interned during the war; Kerry Bolton, a New Zealand Satanist; the American Nazis William Pierce and Edward R Fields; A K Chesterton, founder of the National Front, and even the lunatic Nazi Kenneth McKilliam. We could go on – all 106 books are hardline national socialist including many Nazi classics. Most of them are so extreme that even the British National Party does not sell them.

When Searchlight drew Tesco's attention to the Steven books list, the spokesperson said the company would look into it as well. But despite the company's assurance on Thursday afternoon that the books would be removed, and an email to Andrew Gilligan of the Evening Standard at 5.30 on Friday morning stating that the books were no longer on sale, at 11.00 this morning, three days after Searchlight brought the matter to Tesco's attention, online shoppers were still able to place them in their baskets.

The internet makes it very easy for businesses to sell a much wider range of goods, which they buy in when orders are placed. Most of these books are marked "Special order usually dispatched within 4-6 weeks", a reflection of the unreliability of the Nazi suppliers. At this time of year the book entries are also tagged, "We cannot guarantee delivery in time for Christmas", which may leave a few Nazis disappointed when they open their Yuletide stockings.

But the nature of internet trading does not absolve a company from responsibility for what it sells. And selling Nazi, racist and antisemitic books is unacceptable and inexcusable.

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