It's been a while since I included anything overtly political in my monthly book diary. Well, except The Communist Manifesto, but maybe it's time for something a little more cutting-edge than that.
Yesterday I went to my local library and checked the "New Books" shelves under the 300s, for a recently published political book to read and review for my brave, thoughtful pals on Kos. I came away empty-handed.
See if you can spot what's wrong with this picture...
Nine new books in the politics section. The most prominent one had a big picture of Glenn Beck on it, looking stupid, and was called Talking to Idiots. Oh, good! Snark, my favorite! But wait...it turns out Beck WROTE that book (presumably with his very favorite crayon), and by "idiots", without so much as a hint of irony, he meant some people other than himself and his followers. Like snooty elitists who have fully functional brains and therefore think they're better than him, for instance. I recoiled and looked for another selection.
The next one was called Architects of Ruin. I figured that one would be about the Bush Administration. No such luck...it was by another Palin-American, and was about how the Obama Administration was about to bring America so far down that it would never recover, and how YOU can stop them.
And then there were seven.
A Manifesto for Media Freedom? Nope. That was about fighting the "Liberal Media" by supporting only FOX and the Drudge Report.
Two more were called Tyranny of Liberalism and Liberty vs. the Tyranny of Socialism. Well, at least, those two had titles that were up-front about what end of the kook-to-nut spectrum they were on.
Another was simply called The Conservatives, and appeared to be a set of mini-biographies of "great conservatives", which the author had apparently defined as any person widely popular with Americans, including Presidents Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. Oh well, at least he hadn't tried to co-opt FDR, or make an equal and opposite list of "famous liberals" that included Nixon, Harding, Osama Bin Laden and the Rwandan genocide, precursor of National Health Care.
There was a book called Beyond Red and Blue, that discussed various issues that divided America, some of them on non-traditional lines, such as libertarians who hate all censorship vs. Palinists who want to force Big Hollywood to promote their version of family values. From the introduction, it looked like Broderism: "We're really all moderates, if you think about it." At least this one wasn't in-yo-face right wing. But by now, I was a little bit peeved, shall we say, and wanted some kickass progressive writing like Republican Gomorrah to counteract all the Palinism on the shelf.
No such luck. The last two books were The Making of a Catholic President, about the 1960 election, and One Nation Under Blog, about how ThoseDamnBloggers are a threat to REAL Journalism because they aren't regulated.
So, of nine books, six of them were overtly right wing, one was anti-blog, and the other two were wishy-washy moderate.
I did a slow burn. I went to the desk and asked a librarian to come look at this shelf with me. I asked if she thought a library ought to have a variety of points of view represented, so that patrons could have a meaningful choice of reading matter.
I was glad I was diplomatic. Unlike Beck, I did not lead off with an attack.
The librarian pointed out what you may have already spotted. She showed me, on-screen, the full list of new political books the library had ordered and obtained over the past year. If anything, the list was stacked toward liberal/progressive texts. Heck, Crashing the Gate was there.
What I was looking at on the shelf were the books that had not been checked out.
"Well, I'll be dipped in daiquiris!", I said. And tonight, I am. (hic).
PS: I went to the not-so-new shelves and picked out I Am America (and So Can You), by Steven Colbert. And got on the waiting list for Republican Gomorrah.
Moral (one of maybe many): Those conservative think tanks who put out one wingnut book after another, and buy copies to give to each other so that they look like best sellers, aren't going to influence people if the only ones who read them are the ones whose minds are already made up. Man, those fringe books looked sucky!