Come Clean, Costco

Thousands of Costco shoppers are taking to the wholesaler’s Facebook page and threatening to drop their Costco memberships after the retailer pulled copies of Dinesh D’Souza’s newest anti-Obama book from its shelves, but a company official insists the decision was financial, not political.

D’Souza’s book, “America: Imagine a World Without Her,” was pulled just days after its companion movie “America” was released, reports

Costco had put the book out when it was officially released on June 2, but a corporate decision was made to pull the book on July 1, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti confirmed.

Many people suspect political motives, as Costco co-founder and director Jim Sinegal is a major Democratic donor and supporter of President Barack Obama, serving as a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Does Costco have a right to sell, or not sell, any book it chooses — for any reason it chooses, including political?


Ironically, the same right would not be granted were the positions reversed. If the owner of a huge national chain loved a Republican conservative like D’Souza — or better yet, loved Ayn Rand — and subsequently removed a pro-Obama book from its shelves, you would hear cries of “censorship.” Lawsuits and ultimately Supreme Court cases would ensue.

Interestingly, supporters of D’Souza don’t appear to be crying censorship. They’re simply expressing their anger, as customers, that the head of a huge commercial chain would make such an overtly political decision — and then expect nobody to notice. It’s insulting to their customers, or at least the half of them who don’t agree with Jim Sinegal on his political views.

Incredibly, the official Costco line has been that they don’t wish to sell any books not on the New York Times bestseller list. The implication is they don’t want to waste time marketing books that don’t have an assurance of selling. What about the bestseller list?

The book has sold about 3,900 copies at Costco’s stores nationwide, with about 700 being sold this past week. But the book is a top-seller for online retailer Amazon, leaving many Costco shoppers confused about why it was pulled from the retailer’s shelves.

Don’t the Amazon sales count for anything? As a business, shouldn’t Costco want to get a share of that market? No answer. Because it’s not about economics. It’s about political views. As I said, there’s nothing wrong with this fact. But the leader of Costco should at least own up to it. He has no legal or moral obligation to sell a book at his store if it offends him. But it seems that the same moral principles would require him to acknowledge his position openly — and permit the same right to others, something adherents of his political persuasion seem less and less inclined to do.

As for the New York Times bestseller list, it’s odd that D’Souza’s book wasn’t there in the first place. The Washington Examiner reported in June that D’Souza’s book was missing from the Times’ list of the nation’s top 25 nonfiction books, despite selling 4,915 copies in its first week and 5,592 in the second.

“It’s their newspaper, and they have a right to rig their list any way they want, but if they are doing it, people should know,” D’Souza told The Examiner.

He’s exactly right. People of the political persuasion of the New York Times editorial board would recommend criminal prosecution of fraud for far less than the deceit now exposed by their so-called best seller list.

Costco will reportedly be reversing its decision, and returning D’Souza’s book to the store’s shelves. But to me, that’s not the point. I’m waiting to see if the founder of Costco, or his present company management, comes clean. This is a perfect opportunity for him to state the obvious, given his openly pro-Obama views. His integrity demands it, as well as the concerns of probably half his customers, now inclined to take their business elsewhere.

Of course, I’m not holding my breath. If Costco’s leadership came clean, they’d have to admit that running your business as you see fit is a moral, political and legal right. And there’s absolutely no way to square that view with the political ideology and policies of the man in the White House they so fervently support.


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