Kyrie Irving’s suspension from the NBA came one week after the basketball star posted a link to a controversial movie that has been called antisemitic. But as the Brooklyn Nets’ starting point guard begins sitting out at least five games for the offense, the movie in question remains available for viewing and for sale on Amazon.com, the e-tail giant that has seemingly emerged unscathed in the antisemitism scandal that is still unfolding.
A growing chorus of voices that are critical of Irving have also wondered out loud why Amazon is still peddling the movie, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”
The Nets announced Thursday night that Irving “ is currently unfit to be associated with” the team because it said he has “refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film.” The Nets said Irving would not “clarify” his views on the film and displayed a “failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so.”
Two days after Irving posted the tweet in question, he took to Twitter again to reject the claim that he is antisemitic and said he “meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs.”
On Thursday night, following the announcement of his suspension, Irving issued a formal apology to the Jewish community.
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,” Irving wrote in an Instagram post before adding: “I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti- semticism [sic] by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with. I had no intentions [sic] to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all. I am no different than any other human being. I am a seeker of truth and knowledge, and I know who I Am.”
Irving had already agreed to pay $500,000 to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) before his suspension was announced. The ADL announced Thursday night that it couldn’t “in good conscience” accept the payment.
To be sure, the director of the documentary is a holocaust-denier who included a fake quote attributed to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. At face value, those facts are undeniably antisemitic.
All of which begs the following question from critics: Why does it appear that Irving is being singled out while Amazon.com and its multi-billionaire owner Jeff Bezos continue to profit from not only the film but also several versions of the book adaptation?
Former professional basketball player and current analyst for ESPN Jay Williams is among those who raised that point days before Irving’s suspension was announced.
“There deserves to be more context from Kyrie,” Williams said Wednesday during ESPN’s “First Take” show. “It’s irresponsible to amplify messages from Hitler – yes, this is true – so why it is on a major platform” like Amazon.com? “The platform is profiting and promoting it to billions of people,” Williams added, suggesting that point “is being missed here.”
Williams made sure to say that Amazon.com selling and profiting from the film and books “doesn’t excuse” Irving at all. But he said he felt the issue needed to be included in the larger discussion about Irving’s actions, seeing as he wouldn’t have been able to tweet something that wasn’t made available online in the first place.
Perhaps exacerbating that point is the fact that this isn’t Amazon’s first antisemitic rodeo as it has previously been forced to remove similarly antisemitic content following public outrage not unlike what we are seeing with Irving.
It was only in 2020 when public pressure compelled Amazon to remove from its website an illustrated children’s book by the founder of an antisemitic newspaper that was founded during the Nazi era.
Two years prior, a customer review that remains live accused Amazon.com of “selling hate speech” and “using Antisemitism as a marketing tool” for selling the book in question.
“This disgusting and vile book was written to indoctrinate nazi youth and is still used as a hatred primer for children,” the review began before asking: Why is Amazon supplying and profiting from a kindle version? Why is Amazon selling hateful propaganda to children?”
The reviewer went on to accuse Amazon of being “a company making money off of racism” and “sponsoring and disseminating Antisemitism. This is despicable. Amazon should know better and must stop spreading hate.”
Amazon apparently ignored that criticism until the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum spoke out in 2020, after which it took just three days for the book to be removed from Amazon.
However, this time around, there hasn’t appeared to be any such campaign of pressure being applied to Amazon to have it remove “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” from its website.
Make no mistake: Irving has been a magnet for such controversies throughout his career by pushing widely debunked and false conspiracy theories that range from insisting the world is flat to speculation about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the COVID-19 vaccine, and now this. He’s also been widely ridiculed for such statements.
Meanwhile, though, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” not only remains available to rent on Amazon Prime for $11.99 and for sale for $49.99, but it is also being sold in book form along with an apparent sequel – both of which are at the top of the best-sellers list under the “African American Demographics Study” genre.
Neither the video nor the books have any type of disclaimer appended about antisemitism.
A request sent to Amazon for comment was not immediately returned.
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