Volume 95, Issue 51

Friday, November 30, 2001
 
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EDITORIAL

Denying Hitler

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Denying Hitler

In April 1933, Germany's Nazi party – under the rule of Adolf Hitler – burned scores of books.

Earlier this week, Chapters books – under the rule of Heather Reisman – burned books in a different way, by removing Hitler's book, Mein Kampf, from store shelves across the country.

Reisman, the chief executive officer of Indigo Books and Music, which owns both Chapters and Indigo, snapped Mein Kampf from the shelves of more than 200 stores across Canada.

According to Reisman, the book, published eight years before Hitler's Nazi party rose to power, is hate literature and inappropriate for her book stores.

While Mein Kampf is definitely the work of an evil man, removing it from stores in a free society is troubling for a number of reasons.

Reisman and her cohorts are setting parameters for what readers should have access to. In no uncertain terms, this is censorship.

If Chapters is going to take Hitler's book off the shelves because they are uncomfortable with the content, then they have countless more books to remove. What about Nietzche and his "ubermensch?" What about Salman Rushdie and his Satanic Verses?

Book superstores like Chapters want to be the store that has everything for everyone – a library with cash registers and a rewards program, if you will.

But now, it seems, they want to censor their selection. They seek a particular clientelle, but they are inconsistent in their choices. They are willing to shelve some books, while others that could be deemed equally troubling remain on the shelves unaffected.

Chapters wants to limit free speech and deny a central tenet of democratic society. They want to make choices for us as the average consumers.

This move by Chapters is another example of corporations making decisions more appropriately reserved for government. Reisman took it upon herself to decide what constitutes hate literature.

It is not the responsibility of corporations like her's to define what does and does not constitute hate literature, nor have they been charged by the populace to undertake such a responsibility.

Removing Mein Kampf from store shelves suggests this particular piece of literature – a window into a particular event in history – need not be remembered.

Banning this book is like denying history, denying Hitler's ideology even existed – however twisted it may be – and worst of all, denying the needless deaths of all those killed during the Holocaust.

Hitler's book should be sold so this generation and all generations that follow will never allow such an inhumane application of misguided beliefs to happen again.


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Copyright The Gazette 2001