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It was bad enough that eBay, which bills itself as the world's largest on-line auction seller, lists dozens of racially vile collectibles that mug African-Americans. eBay sells these items with no disclaimer, and in blatant violation of its own stated policy forbidding the sale of items that promote racial intolerance. eBay officials have repeatedly rejected all pleas from eBay users and concerned community groups to remove the items or to add a disclaimer or warning that the items are racially offensive.
But now it's worse. eBay's huge cash cow merchant service, Pay Pal, allows businesses and groups to set-up accounts to sell items on-line with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards. The Ku Klux Klan ( kukluxklan.org) and a group that specializes in Nazi, Klan and white power collectibles ( bidnazi.com) have taken full advantage of eBay's see-no-evil policy toward the sale of hate items. They have reaped a financial boon peddling their boundless array of anti-black and anti-Semitic CDs, tee shirts, posters, pamphlets, books, Nazi insignias, daggers, and swords for sale. A sample of the grotesque items for sale is a Hitler Youth Knife described as "stunning" and is accompanied by the rattle of a machine gun (bidnazi.com).
Another offers the CD, "Keep the Hate Alive," by Racist Redneck Rebels. The CD comes complete with a cover picture of a black man with a rope around his neck. It includes a 12 page full color booklet, described as "beautiful" and song tracks such as "The Nigger Crematory," "Jungle Bunny," "Like a Nigger on Payday," and "Whatever Happened to That Dear Ol' Klan" ( whitepower.com).
Then there's an outfit that calls itself the Patriot Civil Liberties Union ( conspiracypenpal.com). Its stock in trade is anti-Semitic tracts. A couple of their choice items are "Anti-Semitism is a Disease (You catch it from Jews)," and "In Defense of Anti-Semitism." They openly solicit donations through Pay Pal, MasterCard, and Visa
The Nazis, Klan, and white power groups have long hid behind the first amendment to traffic their hate-filled monstrosities through the Internet. But it's another thing for a respected, popular, and well-heeled corporate conglomerate, such as eBay, to aid and abet their sale of hate items through its merchant service. This permits thousands of purchasers to buy and sell these items simply by punching in their credit card number. The credit cards and merchant accounts that handle the sales guarantee the purchasers privacy and security. This amounts to a de facto corporate subsidizing of racial and anti-Semitic hate groups.
The e-commerce enrichment of hate groups comes at the worst possible time. In its latest report on hate violence in America, the FBI notes that the number of hate crimes rose in 2000. Nearly forty percent of them were racially motivated, with blacks the most frequent target of hate mongers. Since the September 11 terror attacks, American Muslims and immigrants have also been hammered by hate violence, and hyper-intensified government surveillance and round-ups. But even the number of reported hate crimes barely scratches the surface of hate violence in America.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a public advocacy group which tracks hate crimes, the 8000 or so hate crimes the FBI reports each year is a gross under count. The Center puts the actual number at closer to 50,000. Compiling hate crime numbers is still left up to the whims of city, state, and local police chiefs. Many don't bother compiling them because they regard hate crimes as a politically loaded minefield that can tarnish their image and create even more racial friction.
But the wide discrepancy in numbers doesn't minimize the danger of hate violence. The fear and threat of racist violence was grave enough to prompt Attorney General John Ashcroft to recently disclose that the FBI foiled separate plots by Klan leaders and white supremacists in Boston and Washington to murder blacks and Jews and to bomb Jewish landmarks.
In 1999, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles demanded that eBay cease listing and selling Nazi hate items and collectibles on its site. A year later, BiasHelp, a New York hate crime victims support group, demanded that eBay pull Klan items from its site. Though eBay officials claimed that they are not in the business of censorship, they agreed to pull most of the Nazi items and some of the more racially inflammatory Klan mess, and to pledge not to sell these items ever again. Yet, they have flatly refused to keep their promise when it comes to "disallowing," racist items that demean African-Americans.
Now eBay heaps on even more racial insult by allowing Klan, Nazi and white power groups, who openly exhort the bombing and killing of blacks, Jews and immigrants, to sell their hate paraphernalia through its merchant account service. Apparently, the message from these shameful business deals is that everything is for sale, and that even includes hate.
Again, Let eBay know what you think!
Kevin Pursglove and/or Margaret Whitman, eBay President
Email: email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: 408-369-6141 or 408-369-4855
Address: 2145 Hamilton Ave. San Jose, Cal. 95125
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and columnist. Visit his news and opinion Web site: thehutchinsonreport.com He is the author of "The Crisis in Black and Black" (Middle Passage Press).