The far-left activist group HOPE not Hate (HnH) received a widespread backlash on social media, including from prominent anti-extremism campaigner Maajid Nawaz, after they released a list of books they campaigned to get banned from UK retailers.
The group unveiled a new campaign earlier this week to pressure book retailers, including Amazon and WH Smith, to remove a list of books deemed “Nazi” and “far-right” by the organisation. HnH tweeted out a link to the campaign and within 24 hours saw an overwhelmingly negative response from users equating the group to promoting book burnings.
Join our campaign against @Waterstones @WHSmith @AmazonUK @Foyles @hivestores listing racist and Nazi books on their websites. RT this and add your name against: https://t.co/2qoLf0CNRM pic.twitter.com/igTMpW2tfW
— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate) March 19, 2018
The tweet garnered a mere 87 likes but more than a thousand comments, the vast majority of which were highly critical of the far-left organisation.
One reply, which has over 1,000 likes on the platform, saw user Bil Irving write: “Cannot support this. There is nothing good to be had from banning books, no matter how much you disagree with them. Quite frankly, it’s a Nazi tactic, and I’m genuinely surprised at HNH for even suggesting this.”
Cannot support this. There is nothing good to be had from banning books, no matter how much you disagree with them. Quite frankly, it's a Nazi tactic, and I'm genuinely surprised at HNH for even suggesting this.
— Bil Irving (@bil_irving) March 19, 2018
Even a self-professed Marxist told the group, “Think you’ve made a mistake with this one.”
Think you’ve made a mistake with this one.
— Tom Milec (@milec_tom) March 20, 2018
Social media users were not the only ones to express their outrage over the proposed book banning. Anti-extremism activist Maajid Nawaz, who was put on a “hate list” by the American Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), a group that works with HnH, launched into a series of tweets slamming the group.
It’s said: “Those who start by burning books, finish by burning people”. How are you any different to those imbeciles demanding the Quran be banned in Europe? Get a grip! #CtrlLeftAltRightDelete https://t.co/AFXIMd8mOa
— Maajid (@MaajidNawaz) March 20, 2018
Nawaz wrote, “it’s said: ‘Those who start by burning books, finish by burning people”’ How are you any different to those imbeciles demanding the Quran be banned in Europe? Get a grip!”
“The present can only be dominated if the past is first censored, and then manipulated,” he added in another tweet.
Breitbart London Editor in Chief Raheem Kassam also commented on the campaign tweeting our an email sent to HnH head Nick Lowles questioning why of all the Nazi books listed, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf was notably absent.
— Raheem 🇺🇸 (@RaheemKassam) March 19, 2018
HOPE not Hate senior researcher Joe Mulhall made an attempt damage control over the backlash writing on Twitter: “The amount of people who have misunderstood our campaign around extremist content being sold at books shops is staggering! There is a vast difference between saying @Waterstones shouldn’t sell a book and saying that book shouldn’t exist! Read the briefing!”
Nawaz responded to Mulhall’s tweets writing, “Because we don’t want to give Hope Not Hate ‘credibility’ by reading its report. In fact, no outlet should stock this report and no one should even link to it. Oh dear…. sound familiar?”
Because we don’t want to give Hope Not Hate ‘credibility’ by reading its report. In fact, no outlet should stock this report and no one should even link to it. Oh dear…. sound familiar? https://t.co/yHK2rvADYF
— Maajid (@MaajidNawaz) March 20, 2018
HnH has faced similar backlashes in the past, including when the Economist magazine revealed that the organisation had inflated hate crime data by 3000 per cent in the wake of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.
Former spin doctor of HnH Dan Hodges claimed in 2011 that the group used dirty tactics, saying: “It was no-holds-barred, bare-knuckle, PR. We used every dirty, underhand, low down, unscrupulous trick in the book.”