Ebay this week is working to purge from its servers the listing of six disputed Dr. Seuss books, even as it continues to allow the listing and sale of works such as Hitler’s antisemitic Nazi manifesto “Mein Kampf.”
Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced this week that it would cease production of half a dozen Seuss books it claimed contain “hurtful” and “wrong” portrayals, including pictures of Asian men and at least one use of the word “Eskimo.”
Ebay shortly thereafter announced that it would be scrubbing listings of those books from its online marketplace. Copies of the discontinued children’s stories were being listed and sold for significantly inflated prices following the books’ cancellations.
The Internet bidding behemoth said this week that it is “currently sweeping [its] marketplace to remove these items,” with a spokeswoman reportedly admitting that the total purge of the titles will “take some time.”
Yet, even as eBay works hard to remove those books from its servers, multiple books with far more controversial content remain readily available for purchase on the site.
Among those are Adolf Hitler’s infamous “Mein Kampf,” a vitriolic autobiography written by the genocidal dictator several years before his rise to power. In that work, Hitler laid out his grievances against what he said was a global Jewish conspiracy and called for “international poisoners” to be “exterminated,” a foreshadowing of Hitler’s eventual attempt to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe.
Also readily available on the site is the book “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an antisemitic conspiracy theory book that purported to reveal a Jewish plot for world domination. That book was cited favorably by Hitler in “Mein Kampf” and has been promoted by notable anti-semites such as Henry Ford.
Likewise available for purchase are copies of “The Planter’s Northern Bride,” a U.S. pro-slavery novel written in 1854, as well as “Race Crossing in Jamaica,” a book of racist pseudoscience by the eugenicist doctor Charles Davenport.
Ebay did not return requests for comment on why it is purging the Seuss books while still allowing shoppers to purchase works in support of racism and genocide.
Banned or challenged books are a common cultural flashpoint in the U.S., though it remains relatively rare for publishers to cease printing popular works as did Seuss Enterprises.
For years the American Library Association and Amnesty International have hosted an annual “Banned Books Week” every February. The awareness campaign is meant to challenge efforts to censor and prohibit reading material. Many events include public readings of challenged books.
The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has tracked the 100 most frequently challenged books every decade since 1990, with books on the lists including “Sex” by Madonna, the Harry Potter series, the pro-gay marriage “Heather Has Two Mommies,” and “Beloved” by Toni Morrison.
No Dr. Seuss books appear on the lists of most-challenged books from 1990-2009.