Further proof that we still live in a society where loud complainants are rewarded, regardless of the public interest.
The alarming subtext of the article below is Yahoo’s buckling under pressure from a special interest group, called LICRA, who succeeded in getting a law passed in France that prevents Nazi artifacts (and other supposed “instruments of hate”) from being sold over the internet. It seems like the French government have made themselves heard on the internet yet again — and there is a consistent and disturbing oppressive sentiment in their public policy regarding the internet.
Here this has crossed streams, in ironic fashion, with France’s overwhelming fear of Nazism and general humiliation regarding the Second World War. To Wit: methinks he doth protest too much — where was their abhorrence of Fascism prior to Germany’s invasion of Alsace-Lorraine?
By my experience, much of Europe and some of the rest of us would just like to pretend the Nazis never even existed, erasing them from our collective memory. This is a disturbing attitude, and does no service to the millions of Jews and the hundreds of thousands of the rest of us who died fighting against them. If there can be any benefit from the reign of Adolf Hitler it is the assurance that, as long as its memory is preserved, it can never happen again.
The irony here is that, in clamping down on the sale of the artifacts of Nazism, the French and groups like LICRA are becoming that which they seek to discredit. Hate will exist with or without the signifiers of Nazism. By preventing the trafficking of artifacts and antiques related to Nazism the French (and now Yahoo!) are treating the mole and not the cancer.
The Nazis, World War Two, Swastikas, and red arm bands are all legitimate reminders of our dark past. Lock those away somewhere and keep them away from us and we will fail to recognize the evil they represent when it rises again. Drive hate groups further underground and it will be harder to identify them as they attempt subterfuge.
The symbols themselves are benign, and for some they are worthy of being collected. No one should have the right to determine whether it should be allowed or not.
It’s a very slippery slope when you allow a government to start judging what types of artifacts have historical value and merit. Joseph Goebbels himself would have loved to have such a law with which to punish those whose lifestyles displeased him.
PS – Swastikas, in fact, have been symbols which are superstitiously thought to combat evil (see: http://www.intelinet.org/swastika/swastika_intro.htm). Over the centuries, the swasitka has held many other meanings. This is only a tangential point of interest.
—- http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010103/tc/yahoo_nazi_auctions_6.html Wednesday January 3 3:36 PM ET Yahoo! To Ban Nazi Artifacts
By VERENA VON DERSCHAU, Associated Press Writer
PARIS (AP) – Advocacy groups that sued to block French Web surfers from accessing Nazi artifacts cheered Yahoo’s decision to stop carrying online auctions of hate-related materials worldwide.
“This is a great victory. It goes beyond what we could have hoped for,” Marc Knobel, Internet expert for the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, known as LICRA, said Wednesday.
Yahoo! Inc. announced late Tuesday that starting Jan. 10 it will stop carrying online auctions featuring hate-related material such as medals, weapons, uniforms, official documents and other items carrying swastikas or other symbols associated with hate groups.
The items join a list of banned auction goods that also includes cigarettes, live animals and used underwear.
The new guidelines will apply to the site’s classified listings and its e-commerce partners. Yahoo search directories, chat rooms and other areas will not be affected.
LICRA lawyer Marc Levy expressed his “great surprise” at Yahoo decision to issue a blanket ban on hate auctions worldwide, not just in France.
Two French anti-racism groups sued Yahoo in April, accusing the company of violating French law barring the display or sale of racist material. The groups said the French had a right to be shielded from the commercialization of Nazi objects.
Yahoo’s lawyers argued during trial that blocking the site from the French would be technically impossible. The Internet has no borders, they said, and there is no effective way to prevent its users from traveling where they like.
In May, the French judge ruled that Yahoo had offended the nation’s “collective memory” and ordered the Internet company to pay $1,000 to each group. A judge confirmed the ruling in November, ordering Yahoo to find ways to block French users from its sites selling Nazi paraphernalia or face $13,000 a day in fines.
Yahoo said the court rulings played no role in the new policy.
“We decided we don’t necessarily want to profit from items that promote hatred or glorify hatred and violence,” senior auction producer Brian Fitzgerald said Tuesday.
The second group that sued Yahoo also praised the policy change Wednesday. It demonstrates that the “economic grandeur of an important company in the new economy is not above morals and justice,” said Ygal El Harrar, president of the Union of JewishStudents in France.