from the know-thy-enemy dept
So, hey, you guys remember that Hitler guy from a while back? You know, the one who occasionally is posed as the KFC colonel, or who can be found ranting about the DMCA process, and is somehow worked into every bad argument about anyone with whom people are in a disagreement? Well, it turns out he was also a guy who, years back, was a real bastard and sometimes enjoyed writing down exactly how and why to be a bastard just like him. Those writings were called Mein Kampf, the manifesto that later became the blueprint for the Nazi party, who, as you know, were organized around the idea that a political party could, in fact, personify evil. Then America, all by themselves, with absolutely no help from Britain or Russia, dismantled Hitler's Germany and restored all that is right and beautiful to the world (history, as I learned it in American public schools...). After that period, reading Mein Kampf, or owning it, became taboo. Efforts were made in Germany, in fact, to ban the book outright. Being seen in public with a copy would be tantamount to accepting its ideals, because we humans apparently don't understand anything at all.
But now, in the era of eBooks, it turns out that Mein Kampf is a hit once more, and it has certain well-meaning advocacy groups chasing enemies that don't exist.
"While the academic study of Mein Kampf is certainly legitimate, the spike in ebook sales likely comes from neo-Nazis and skinheads idolizing the greatest monster in history," World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer told ABC News in an emailed statement. "We think that responsible companies shouldn't profiteer from the sales of hate books, or at least should donate the profits to help the victims of anti-Semitism, racism and other like bigotries," he said.Put more simply, popularity of the book as recorded by sales numbers means that the Nazi movement is returning and no company should allow the book to be sold. Or, if they do allow it, they should donate all profits to those who fight bigotry. Bigot is an interesting word however, which is in part defined as "a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc." You know, like someone who would label anyone buying a book of bad ideas and immediately decide those same people were deficient enough to not know they're bad ideas. Freedom of speech and thought is most important when it concerns speech and thought that is downright dastardly. After all, how are we to know who the bastards are if we don't allow the bastards to tell us they're bastards? Even more to the point, how are we to learn they're bastards if we don't listen to or read them? The entire phrase "Know thy enemy" apparently eludes Mr. Singer.
Which, as it turns out, is almost certainly besides the point. People aren't buying Mein Kampf on eBooks because they're neo-Nazis. They're interested in one of the most well-known historical figures of our time and they can finally read the book, while disagreeing with it, on the subway without everyone else looking at them like they were the scum you clean out of your bathtub.
"The popularity of the digital Ford translation of Mein Kampf has surged due to academic interest in the subject." Elite Minds President Michael Ford told ABC News in an email. "With digital readers, no one faces the stigma of having a copy of Mein Kampf on their bookshelf or risks it being seen on a table and having visitors make false assumptions about their reasons for owning it. They can read it in the subway without fear of being mistaken for a racist just because they want to learn about history," Ford said.It's so obvious, I can't believe anyone actually missed that. Because guess what else became hugely popular on eBook platforms? 50 Shades Of Gray, and I'm thinking it's highly unlikely that most folks reading that novel are into that level of kinky sex. It's a controversial book that some might find embarrassing to read in public with a huge book cover broadcasting the undertaking. Just like Mein Kampf.
So quit it with the moral panic. You can't claim to understand the genesis of the Nazi party, or really even World War 2, without reading that book. Yes it's evil, yes it's wrong, and yes it was the ravings of a mass murdering lunatic. But reading it doesn't make you the same and knowing the mind of an enemy is more important than burying hateful speech.