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This article was published on July 10, 2018

Amazon banned Confederate flags but Nazi gear is A-OK!

Amazon banned Confederate flags but Nazi gear is A-OK!
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

A recently released report indicates Amazon’s marketplace remains inundated with offensive products related to hate groups and racism. Oddly, the only items specifically banned from Amazon for being offensive are Confederate flag merchandise, and even that ban isn’t enforced.

Here’s a couple of items you can still buy as of today:

US customers, as of the time of this writing, can also purchase authentic (per seller) Nazi belt buckles and rings, replica SS Waffen trenchcoats and hats, clothing with racist imagery, and flags with racist motifs – none of which are explicitly banned.

Note: the following images are taken from the US version of Amazon.com, we’ve chosen to post them without links to avoid sending traffic to the specific pages hosting these items, all of which are currently available for sale at the time of this writing.

We reached out to Amazon to ask if there was a specific policy covering Nazi merchandise, and were told by a representative that the policy “most relevant” to this story was its offensive materials policy. It states “Products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views” may be removed at the company’s discretion.

Either Amazon doesn’t find Nazi and Kekistan merchandise in violation of its policy, or it simply isn’t interested in – or, perhaps, capable of – enforcing rules against such items.

No matter how you feel about the historical significance of the flag of the Confederacy, its banning on Amazon is outright strange in light of other products available. So how did we get here?

Amazon’s policy on Confederate flags can be found on its “Other restricted items” page. It’s unclear why Amazon chose one specific symbol of hate out of countless others to ban, but it may have something to do with the company’s history of knee-jerk reactions to media coverage.

A little over three years ago Dylann Roof walked into a church in South Carolina and murdered nine people in a racially motivated crime. Less than a week later retailers across the country, including Wal-Mart, Sears, Ebay, and Amazon, decided to stop selling merchandise depicting the US Confederate flag, deeming it a symbol of hate after investigators revealed Roof’s social media and forum accounts contained dozens of images of him wearing and wielding one.

Yet, just last week a team of civil rights and consumer advocates published a study indicating Amazon still sells items associated with hate groups. It further pointed out that Amazon Web Services hosts racist content, the Kindle marketplace is flooded with racist manifestos and books, and Amazon Music hosts and streams numerous musicians and bands whose content contains overtly racist messages. To the best of our knowledge very little of it has been removed so far.

Amazon’s wishy-washy policy on what is and isn’t acceptable to sell muddies waters that, in 2018, should be clearer than ever. If it’s not acceptable to sell a Confederate flag because it represents hate, then it certainly seems like it shouldn’t be okay to sell actual or replica Nazi material, anti-Muslim baby clothing, or neo-nazi flags.

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