If it isn’t already top of your search engine, we’ve noticed that Amazon are selling Nazi flags on the site. At the bargain price of £6.44, comments mocking the items have appeared in reviews on the site:
“Hanging this out of the window really helps to show off my race-hate credentials to the neighbours.”
“I’ve been looking to acquire some bunting and other nik naks to commemorate the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee. What better tribute than an instantly recognisable symbol from recent German history? I’ve bought 20 of them.” Leaving the jokes aside, a crucial question is to be considered: should flags that represent a racist and offensive ideology be up for sale?
John Rentoul offers an argument in defence of the sale below, with Matthew Bell arguing against the decision.
Which do you agree with?
FOR: John Rentoul
Some Amazon reviewers have responded in the best way to the shop’s stocking of Nazi memorabilia. With ridicule (see the reviews here, for example).
The worst way would be to demand new laws to ban the sale of swastika flags, SS insignia and Mein Kampf. We already have laws against incitement to racial hatred, and that is the right place to draw the line between learning about the Nazis and the Holocaust and glorifying them.
Matthew Bell, my good colleague on The Independent on Sunday, reported recently on the sale of Nazi paraphernalia by auction houses. In it, he quoted Ann Widdecombe, a Tory MP until 2010, who did not approve of the sale of a silver tray presented to Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday by Albert Speer: “It’s very disturbing that this trade exists,” she said. “I mean, who is paying £28,000 for that? And what else are they doing?”
Wondering what else such anonymous people might be doing is a reasonable response, but it is not a basis for banning things.
It is easily mockable that Amazon lists Mein Kampf as something “frequently bought together” with a swastika flag, but once someone suggests banning the sale of books, we can surely see that a line has been crossed into curtailing freedom of expression.
Mockery is far the better reaction.
AGAINST: Matthew Bell
Selling or displaying Nazi flags is illegal in several European countries, including France, Hungary and Germany. In Britain, we take a more libertarian approach, so there’s nothing to stop you opening a shop on your high street selling Nazi daggers and…