By Frank Shatz, The Virginia Gazzette
Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress and chairman of the American Council for World Jewry, has a message for Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos: start treating the anti-Semitic conspiracy group known as QAnon as a terrorist group and not customers.
QAnon related goods and materials are readily available on the online retailer’s many platforms, and because Amazon has a regional headquarters in Virginia, Rosen has given me and the Gazette readers the story.
According to the FBI and other law enforcement bodies, QAnon is a discredited American far-right conspiracy theory that alleges a secret cabal of Satan-worshiping, cannibalistic pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring. This cabal, they maintain, plotted against former U.S. President Donald Trump. Based on court records, U.S. prosecutors call QAnon a dangerous cult.
In a commentary about his letter to Bezos, Rosen, head of two of the most powerful American Jewish organizations, states: “Given their avowed hatred of Jews, Blacks, Muslims and other minorities, the group should be listed by the U.S. Department of Justice as a hate group. Still, their regalia can be found on the sites of hundreds of sellers on Amazon’s most prolific sales platforms.”
Rosen, whose connections and influence runs from the Biden White House to leaders from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, notes that Amazon lags behind social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, which have banned QAnon from their pages. Those companies belatedly draw a line between free speech and hate-mongering. Not to mention the risk of terrorist violence coordination on their platforms.
According to the FBI and West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, QAnon followers have been linked to violence including murders and credible threats against President Biden and other prominent officials.
“Their flags flew high at the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6,” Rosen notes. “But still, you can find their swag on Amazon.”
Earlier this month, under some pressure from the American Jewish Congress, Amazon pulled some QAnon products from their platform, but lately QAnon shirts, hats, phone cases, bags, flags and banners are again readily available.
All this is happening, Rosen points out, while the FBI repeatedly warns that the greatest security threat to America is domestic terrorism at the hands of white nationalist extremists, which includes QAnon. “And Amazon is their outfitter of choice, giving this dangerous cult a sense of identity and esprit de corps. Amazon is enabling hate!”
Rosen warns the more QAnon’s views and appearances become mainstreamed by companies such as Amazon, the more they are normalized. The more they are normalized, the more inured we become to their threat. We need to wake up to the threat of domestic extremism and come up with short-term and long-term strategies to combat it, just as we did international terrorism following the 9/11 attack.
In the wake of the Capitol siege, there are renewed calls to pour resources into teaching American history and civics to our young people, Rosen argues.
“We should help them to become better critical thinkers, better be able to separate facts from fiction, and give them a stake in the institutions of our nation. It is a long-term antidote to the ignorance and the bigotry that define QAnon.”
In the meantime, Rosen says, companies like Amazon should treat QAnon as terrorists not as customers.
Shatz is a Williamsburg resident. He is the author of “Reports from a Distant Place,” the compilation of his selected columns. The piece was originally published in the The Virginia Gazzette.
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