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My Cancelled Book Review
Several years ago, shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, I got into a discussion with a progressive relative on Facebook. She had posted that she earnestly wanted to know how anyone could vote for him. She found it troubling, but wanted to understand, so she was putting this message out to anyone who might know someone who voted for him. I responded. She may have been surprised that someone she’d known for years had actually voted for him. Then the “discussion” began.
I gave her a summary of some reasons for my vote. Her response was something like, “but I never thought you hated immigrants. Relatives of ours were immigrants.” I explained my thoughts about the difference between legal and illegal immigrants. She responded with something like, “and I never thought of you as racist.” I responded with my thoughts about equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome. She responded with something like, “but we’re Jewish; how can you support someone who hates Jews.” This one was hard to respond to calmly for many reasons, including the fact that she had never set foot in a synagogue and had no connection to Judaism except when she wanted to call Trump an antisemite on Facebook.
So I tried a different tack. I suggest we recommend books to each other that might explain our positions. Then we could discuss the books. I recommended Animal Farm, the brilliant 140-page novel I’d read in an afternoon as a teenager and which had changed my life’s perspective. She recommended Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, a 776-page book that is required reading in many schools these days. Note, by the way, that the book’s cover is a picture of the author. How many textbooks do you know where the author is the selling point, not the actual content? That’s telling.
I had made the challenge, and she had agreed, so I felt obliged to go through with it. Over the next several weeks, I read the first chapter and made notes. I contacted her and asked her what she thought of Animal Farm. She told me she didn’t see any reason to read it. Unfortunately, that’s how progressives think. I unfriended her on Facebook and we haven’t spoken since. She wasn’t looking for discussion to reach an understanding. She was looking to confirm her rock-solid beliefs and rejected anything that contradicted them.
Recently, I came across my notes and decided to post a short one-star review of Zinn’s book on Amazon. Here is that review:
I read this book as a challenge from a friend. As with many such books, this one claims that previous histories of America glossed over the evils of our nation and ignored references about the myriad negative historical events and the evil people who founded our great nation. This book references atrocity after atrocity committed by the Founding Fathers and other American leaders, yet without referencing any original sources but rather only other books and papers that are similarly critical of America. As an academic work, it fails to be objective or to rely on real research. It is simply a very long rant against America. It is particularly sad and scary that this book is recommended reading in many public schools.
The review was rejected as “not meeting community standards.” The email I received from Amazon stated:
One or more of your posts were found to be outside our guidelines. In order to help our customers make informed choices, we encourage them to review the product and contribute information about it. However, Community content that violate [sic] our guidelines or Conditions of Use will be removed.
Please consider this a first warning.
Before submitting your next post, please refer to our Customer Guidelines:
Failure to comply with our policies may result in your account being banned from taking part in Community features.
Thanks for your understanding in this matter.
This referenced webpage doesn’t actually offer any relevant information, but searching for community standards on Amazon, I found this page: Community Guidelines - Amazon Customer Service. I assume my review fell into one of these two categories, but since Amazon offers no way to contest a rejected review, I may never know.
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Thinking there was a mistake, or some ultra-leftist reviewer had overstepped his or her or xis bounds, I resubmitted the review. I received the same notice.
I don’t know what to do about this unfair cancellation. The book has many one-star reviews, but it’s overall rating is overwhelmingly positive. Those on the left are really afraid of contradictory viewpoints. Many I’ve met claim to support free speech “as long as that speech doesn’t offend anyone.” Which is not free speech. So what do we do? I will continue to write articles and support those people and organizations who believe in and promote American values. I’m sure my readers will too. But I often question whether that’s enough. I’m starting to see some societal changes in favor of freedom these days, but most people don’t seem to care. How do we make them care? I’ll keep up my efforts, and I hope you do too, and then just pray for our country to find its American values once again.
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