Or "The enemies of Success"
Dear Mr. President,
Today I prepared the books that will be released tomorrow morning for their displays. One of them (which actually comes out today) is Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's Game Change. I am unspeakably giddy about reading this book (though it will have to come after Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope) as the 2008 election is one I would happily relive. Sadly, the other book that caught my attention is called, (with a truly admirable amount of subtlety and nuance) The War on Success. Maybe I'm being judgmental, maybe I should look past the bullet holes on the cover, the Conservative Book Club recommendation, and the quote on the back that actually suggests any reader not inspired by the books "has already surrendered to the enemies of success." I won't lie, I'm probably not going to look past those things. According to the subtitle, you, Mr. President, are an "enemy of success", and I wonder how you feel about that. Surely, you've been called more ridiculous and more insulting things, but is there really a significant portion of the population who believes that their president doesn't want them, his citizens and constituents, not to succeed? Significant enough to convince some one to write a book about it, and a number of others to agree to publish it?
The world is a mind-boggling place, sometimes. Working in a bookstore, I encounter a wide spectrum of readers, and while I often find myself puzzling over those buying books by Glenn Beck or Robert Spencer, I suppose that there is a place for every kind of book. Today I had a woman angrily return a book I'd suggested she read. It was The Iron Cage by Rashid Khalidi. She is traveling to Israel soon, and was looking for "a more balanced" perspective on the conflict with Palestine than what she knew from her "crazy orthodox" relatives. I don't know this woman well enough to know what balanced means to her, but she seemed interested in hearing from a Palestinian perspective, and so I suggested Mr. Khalidi's book, as I respect him as an intellectual. I warned her that I was quite strongly in support of a free Palestine, and that Khalidi was considered, by some, to be quite radical in his opinions. I also encouraged her to visit the West Bank on her trip, as I feel first-hand experience will offer the most "balanced" idea of what it is like to live in Palestine. I didn't get a chance to ask her what about the book made her so angry, but I try to keep my political views away from my conduct at work. (I confess, when Vice President Cheney used to come into my store in DC, I would excuse myself from the sales floor to avoid an encounter. Some jobs aren't worth keeping silent.)
When I logged on my laptop during my lunch break, however, I saw something that may explain the woman's anger. Cnn.com's headline is "Sources: Israeli shelling kills three in Gaza". This headline runs beneath a photo of armed men in ski masks, the black bands of Islamic Jihad around their foreheads. On December 26, three men were killed in Nablus. Their story did not make headline news on CNN. The photos of these men, and their mourning families, can be found (along with their names) here, in a story by Bridget Chappell. If these men had been militants, it is presumed, they might have made the front page at CNN.com. All 6 were killed by the IDF, all 6 were people with names and families. Why is it that the only image most of America will see is of faceless figures carrying automatic weapons? In the mainstream American media, Palestinians are rarely depicted as anything besides terrorists or statistics. That, I must conclude, is why my customer was so angry that I would dare suggest she read something written by one.
Clearly, I'm just as much of a hypocrite. I may actually have to give The War On Success a chance, now.