By Clay Waters ~
The New York Times provided more publicity for the anti-Trump resistance with Julia Bosman’s lead National section story, “Bookstores Stoke Resistance With Action, Not Just Books – Places of Business, and Hubs of Protest.”
Three weeks ago, the NYT was also using the self-indulgent liberal theme of books as rebellion, finding “eerie parallels” between dystopian Books Like ‘1984’ and the Trump presidency, though iconoclastic journalist Brendan O’Neill suggests Orwell’s classic in fact better describes today’s authoritarian left, “the nannying, nudging, speech-policing, sex-panicking, P.C. culture that Trumpism is in some ways a reaction against. “
There were several photos of presumably persecuted-feeling booksellers, under flattering photo captions like these:
“Books with themes of social justice on display at Hello Hello Books in Rockland, Me. The owner, Lacy Simons, has helped customers mobilize resistance against the Trump administration.”
Photo caption: “A worker stocking shelves at Word in Jersey City, one of many bookstores that have embraced the protest movement against President Trump.”
A hundred people packed a bookstore in Brooklyn to write postcards to elected officials and, as the invitation urged, “plot next steps.” In St. Louis, bookstore owners began planning a writer-studded event to benefit area refugees. At a bookshop in Massachusetts, a manager privately asked his senior staff members how the store should respond to the Trump presidency.
“Go hard,” they told him.
No thoughtful opposition to the bookstore propaganda was to be found.
In the diffuse and suddenly fierce protest movement that has sprung up on the left since President Trump took office, bookstores have entered the fray, taking on roles ranging from meeting place to political war room.
Many stores have distributed information for customers who are mobilizing against Mr. Trump’s actions: his cabinet choices, his threat to cut off funding for sanctuary cities and his immigration bans on refugees and many Muslims. At City Stacks, a bookstore in Denver, employees printed out forms with elected officials’ contact information in a gentle nudge to customers. On Inauguration Day, Broadway Books in Portland, Ore., handed out free copies of “We Should All Be Feminists,” a book-length call to arms by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the novelist.
All over the country, independent bookstores have filled their windows and displays with “1984,” by George Orwell; “It Can’t Happen Here,” by Sinclair Lewis; and other books on politics, fascism, totalitarianism and social justice. Booksellers have begun calling the front table devoted to those titles the #Resist table.
So…these bookstore owners are so frightened about emerging fascism — that they put their resistance books at the front of the bookstore! Hardly samizdat literature from the Soviet bloc.
There was a half-hearted attempt at balance.
Some stores, including large chains like Barnes & Noble, with customers from across the spectrum, have steered away from the political realm. Some stores say they have worked to keep the latest book displays balanced — with titles from the left and the right.
“My taste comes into play,” said Cathy Langer, the director of buying for the Tattered Cover in Denver, “but my politics do not, ever.”
But many places have become buzzing hubs of protest, like Women & Children First in Chicago, which last month hosted a forum on “Art and Resistance,” a craft circle to knit pink “pussyhats,” and a gathering with customers for coffee and doughnuts on the morning after the inauguration, before they all rode the “L” to join in the downtown Women’s March.
More unjournalisitc flattery of the leftist activists.
Political organizing is perhaps a natural extension of what bookstores have done for centuries: foster discussion, provide access to history and literature, host writers and intellectuals.
Her plans to push back against Mr. Trump’s policies are just beginning: Later this month, the store’s new social justice reading and action group will meet for the first time (suggested reading: “What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America”). She also intends to distribute political leaflets and other materials to customers, on the model of bookstores that handed out mimeographed resistance newspapers during the Vietnam War.
….[Bookstore owner Gayle] Shanks took her regular email newsletter in December, usually a chatty vehicle for suggesting new books or sharing publishing-industry news, to write about her sorrow over Mr. Trump’s election and the “cronies” he had selected to serve in his cabinet.
More than 50 recipients wrote back with praise, thanking her for airing her views. One man did not. “Shut up and sell books,” he wrote.
And some stores have been more muted, conscious of alienating more conservative customers.
One last dig at Trump: He’s no Barack Obama.
She echoed one of the biggest blows of Mr. Trump’s election for people in the literary world: the realization that the new president is not much of a reader. That is a stark contrast to former President Barack Obama, a devoted reader, writer and frequent visitor of independent bookstores while he was in office.