San Francisco Booksellers Won’t Carry Going Rogue

You know someone’s packing some REALLY powerful intellect when every other post on their blog is a Jon Stewart video. Perhaps it’s generational change, where we see a lazy kind of media-induced resistance to hard thinking and analytical reasoning, but it’s out there, and not just among hardline netroots denizens. I’m tempted to try to place the willfully ignorant in a corner with those cohorts political scientists identify as post-engagement voters or actualized citizens who channel their political activity through increasingly creative and expressive action rather than the more historically hierarchical, yet socially affirming, mobilizations. But it’s more likely that radical leftwing ideology — with its inherent intolerance of differening opinions and hostility to the vigorous play of ideas — is the real culprit.

In any case, my thinking here is being driven by the non-shocker of an article at the San Francisco Chronicle, “Bay Area Not Maverick Enough to Read Palin Book“:

It might as well have cooties. Hardly anyone wants to touch the thing, or even get close to it.

The new autobiography by moose hunter and failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is harder to find in the Bay Area than a hockey mom. Some bookstores figure it’s one of those grit-your-teeth First Amendment deals that principled booksellers must put up with from time to time.

But many nonchain bookstores won’t handle it.

“Our customers are thinking people,” said Nathan Embretson, a bookseller at Pendragon Books in Oakland. “They’re not into reading drivel.”

There’s not a single copy on the shelf. Embretson said no one has asked for it except for one guy, who was kidding.

“He said he wanted to look at it but he also said he didn’t really want to read it,” Embretson said. “Anyway, he certainly didn’t want to buy it. I think he regarded looking at it as a kind of punishment.”

There are no copies of the book at Cover to Cover Booksellers in Noe Valley, either.

“Anything like that we wouldn’t carry,” said clerk Emily Stackhouse. “We’re a small store and it would probably gross us all out. Some things you carry because of freedom of speech, but a book like that is just gross.”

One customer did put in a special request for the book one evening but, perhaps thinking better in the light of day, failed to show up and actually pay money for it, Stackhouse said.

Sheryl Cotleur, the head buyer for Book Passage, which operates stores in Corte Madera and San Francisco, said the two stores have sold exactly two copies of the book. That works out to one copy per store. Cotleur said two other people have asked to look at the book but no one else has asked to buy it.

“Nobody around here is particularly interested in her politics or her opinions,” she said. “There’s a certain curiosity, sure. But I don’t think that translates into what people are willing to pay money for.”

Now this is not simply a generational thing. Mostly, it’s a urban secular-collectivist thing. What’s so fascinating, is that when people say they’re uninterested in reading about Sarah Palin’s life they’re really saying that they’re hostile to heartland American values, respect for nature, hard work, and individual initiative, and especially the notion of a life of personal responsibility rather than socialistic paternalism.

As I noted last night, reading Palin’s book is taking me back to my own upbringing, and it’s making me realize how all-American is the Sarah Palin experience — and by extension, how historically-rejectionist are those who excoriate her as a backwoods yokel. Palin’s family roots are actually in Southern California, and then Idaho. From there her father decided to pick up stakes for the lush wilderness of Alaska. I know if it would’ve been me and my family — especially my uncle — I would’ve taken right to the rugged life of hunting and fishing and cold nestled-in winters. In Southern California in the 1970s, I spent a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities (including cycling, motorcross, fourwheeling, and shooting). Indeed, most of the action sports popular today (skateboarding and snowboarding, etc.), were acitivities that were pioneered by some of my closest buddies at the time. There was an entreprenuerial work ethic about life, whether that be with extreme-sports, business professionalism, or working as a farm-hand at ranches out by Lake Elsinore.

When Sarah Palin writes of how her future husband Todd Palin earned all his own money as a fisherman and an oil-roughneck, enough to buy his own cars and trucks as a teenager, that’s just the kind of inititative that’d be expected in my family when growing up. Perhaps identifying with that kind of lifestyle really is what separates radical leftists from people who are, basically, just really normal folks more so than “conservatives.” As my good friend Lynn Mitchell noted last night:

Shooting a gun? Camping with bears? Hiking the wilderness? Those are so foreign to many folks … but for me it was a freedom-loving childhood just as Donald describes growing up in California, and Sarah Palin describes growing up as part of the Alaskan experience.

And with that clearly comes a greater openness to different values and political ideas than you’ll find among the haughty radical hypocrites of the contemporary youth cohort.

It’s a shame, really. But folks do wise up with age, and I’ve been encouraged by how many traditional students I’ve worked with this semester. No doubt Barack Obama’s going to be one term president, and in fact, he’s acknowledged the likelihood of that outcome. See, “Obama Tells CNN — He May Not Run in 2012.”

See also, Hot Air, “Surprise: Many San Francisco Booksellers Refusing to Carry Palin’s Book; Update: Palin Apologizes to Those Whose Books Weren’t Signed.” Plus Memeorandum.

Cross-posted from American Power.

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