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It Wasn’t Amazon’s Idea to Remove Nazi Symbols From NY Trains (Updated)

Heil no!

courtesy of Ann Toback

Amazon’s ads for its new TV show, “The Man in the High Castle,” have been yanked from New York City subways, after people took offense at riding in train cars that were covered in Nazi and imperial Japanese symbolism.

An Amazon spokesperson said on Wednesday that the company did not ask the MTA to take down the ads. Variety first reported that an MTA spokesperson told the magazine that “Amazon has just decided to pull the ads,” but then published a second article suggesting Amazon wasn’t behind the removal. We asked Amazon if the company still stands behind the promotion, and we’re waiting to hear back. Requests for comment from the MTA have not been returned, although a statement provided to CBS New York said Governor Andrew Cuomo was behind the takedown.

“The Man in the High Castle” is a show from Amazon Studios, available to stream on Amazon, that imagines an alternate world in which Nazi Germany won World War II. New York City is the second-most Jewish city in the entire world (Tel Aviv is the first). In Nazi Germany, Jews and other targets of the regime were often transported to concentration camps on trains meant to carry livestock.

It is unclear how the ad was approved by marketing executives from Amazon. A representative from the Metropolitan Transit Authority told Variety, “The ads do not violate our content-neutral ad standards and thus we have no grounds to reject them.”

Ann Toback, who leads the left-leaning Jewish advocacy organization The Workmen’s Circle, told Re/code she was “so happy Amazon realized and reevaluated their decision,” but she disagreed with the MTA’s defense of the ads.

“The reality is, what the MTA put up wasn’t content-neutral in anybody’s definition,” Toback said. “The other ads, on billboards — I don’t have an objection to those. What they did on that car is different, it crossed a line.”

Toback said she saw the ads on her commute, riding the S shuttle train between Times Square-42nd St. and Grand Central Station. She added that although she hasn’t seen “The Man in the High Castle” yet, she is interested and considers herself a fan of Amazon’s original programming.

The show, critics say, is quite good. It is based on a novel written by science fiction legend Philip K. Dick.

An Amazon spokeswoman provided this statement:

Amazon Studios creates high-quality, provocative programming that spurs conversation. The Man in the High Castle, based on an acclaimed novel, explores the impact to our freedoms if we had lost World War II. Like Transparent and the movie Chi-Raq, stories that society cares about often touch on important, thought-provoking topics. We will continue to bring this kind of storytelling to our customers.

This article has been updated to reflect Amazon’s comment on a Variety report.

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