Monday, January 22, 2007

More On AK Press

Last year, I wrote a letter to the staff of AK Press explaining why I will not be purchasing any more books from them in the future. I eventually received a belated reply from a woman who was a former worker at AK. She wrote a very well thought out and detailed reply to my original criticisms. Rather than reproduce her entire lengthy reply or my own complete response, I’ve excerpted a few paragraphs from my letter back to her that pretty well explains the points she brought up and my replies to them:

You mentioned in your letter how Ward Churchill’s calls for violence in his books should be looked at in the context of the rage he feels as the result of our government’s oppression, and that at any rate we shouldn’t take these calls to seriously, as the Bush administration poses must more of a threat to our freedoms than he ever will. In a sense, I agree with you. I worry quite a bit more about the federal government infringing on my freedoms than I do about radical leftists doing so. But you might consider this. Whenever neo-Nazis hold a public rally somewhere, there is usually a vigorous counter-protest by leftists and civil rights groups. Few on the left would criticize these counter-protests (I myself have mixed feelings on this issue, as I think in some cases it might be better just to ignore these racist demonstrations completely). But why is this? Most people in the U.S. consider these white power groups to be an absolute joke. And while there are occasional attacks on minority persons by members of these organizations, I think you would have to agree that a person of color is infinitely more likely to be harassed or attacked by law enforcement officers than by a Nazi skinhead. I would argue that these fascist gatherings are protested with such vigor not because of the direct threat they pose to the public, but because of the sheer odiousness of their message. The spectacle of persons waving Nazi flags, chanting racist slogans, and denying the occurrence of the Holocaust is just too offensive for decent people to bear. In the same way, I am so deeply offended by Churchill’s description of some of the victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns” and his call for the wholesale murder of upper-class persons that I must speak out against him, even though I know these violent fantasies will likely never come to fruition.
This revulsion I feel for Ward Churchill and for other violent revolutionaries like him also explains why I will no longer purchase book though AK Press. At one time, I would also buy books from white supremacist distributors on the grounds that I wanted to get all sides of an issue, and that the small amount of money I was giving them was insignificant in the greater scheme of things. I have since come to believe that it is wrong to give any amount of money to an organization whose beliefs you find repugnant, no matter how small the amount. Given that AK Press has organized public meetings for the purpose of giving Ward Churchill and others like him a platform to propagate their hateful messages, I must sadly put it into the same category as the white power book distributors, and refuse to give it any more of my money.
I might sum up by saying that in general, fanatics scare me. Weather left or right wing, any person who would act as judge, jury, and executioner of their fellow citizens is a person I look on with disgust. In that respect, mainstream book dealers such as Amazon come across as rather benign. They, after all, don’t want to force any one to adhere to their vision of the revolution or put anyone up against a wall. They just want my money. And that I think I can respect.


Post a Comment

<< Home