Antifa asks Powell to stop selling Andy Ngo’s book, forces store to close earlier – Reason.com
Far-left activists surrounded Powell’s Books in Portland on Monday and demanded the store stop selling Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, a book on antifa written by Andy Ngo. The protests forced the store to close earlier.
Powell’s has announced that it will not be selling the book in its physical store, although it is still available for purchase online.
“This book will not be on our store shelves, and we will not promote it,” Powell’s said in a statement. “That said, it will remain in our online catalog. We carry books that we find anywhere, from plain unpleasant or poorly written to abhorrent, as well as those we cherish. We believe that is the job of the bookstore than to do so. “
Ngo, who has documented antifa tactics for various conservative news websites and has previously been attacked by the group, tweeted video footage of the protesters. One of these protesters claimed that disrupting the distribution of the book amounted to “stopping the historic publication of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’. “
“We have to show up everyday until they stop selling that fucking book”
– Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) January 11, 2021
Powell’s noted that the store is committed to free speech and has previously received “credible bomb threats” for selling books by Salman Rushdie, including the 1988 book. Satanic verses makes the author a target of Islamist extremists:
There are books in our stores and online inventory that contain ideas that go against the values of safety, equality and fairness of our company and our employees. However, many of us also read these books to learn about the events; learn more about local and world history; and understand the arguments of people and groups with whom we disagree. While we understand that our decision to offer such books bothers some clients and staff, we do not want to create an echo chamber of pre-approved voices and ideas. It is not our mission or our inclination to decide who our customers should listen to.
The owners of the store are quite right in asserting their right to sell books on a wide range of subjects, even if some of these books do not meet with the assent of far-left activists. Antifa believes that no one should be allowed to critically report on their activities. Despite their benign-sounding nickname (which is the abbreviation for “anti-fascism”), those associated with the antifa deliberately practice illiberalism: they wish to deny the protections of freedom of expression to the far right and to the his facilitators, a group of enemies that antifa defines very broadly. Indeed, in this case, the facilitators of fascism obviously include a bookstore that does not even carry the objectionable tome on its shelves.
Few acts of censorship are as blatant as a crowd deciding which books other people should be allowed to read. The authoritarian behavior of Portland’s progressive militant community is a subject worth exploring in book form.