Tuesday, September 17, 2013

American publishers are spineless

One of the Danish Mohammed cartoons
Flemming Rose is the editor of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish daily with the largest circulation in Denmark, who made the decision to publish the Mohammed cartoons in 2005. He's written a book on the incident, but he can't find a publisher here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Spineless. Recall too how gutless the local media was here and here during the successful campaign by Islamic fanatics to bully it into silence. From today's Daily Beast:
The transformation of Rose’s life...has been permanent. “My security situation is the same as it was five years ago...My name is not on the door [of my house]. I don’t necessarily come to work at the same time. I don’t leave at the same time.” This doesn’t seem to be excessive caution. A few weeks prior to our meeting, a gunman attempted to kill Lars Hedegaard, a well-known anti-Islam polemicist in Denmark. As a precautionary measure, the Danish security services immediately notified Rose.

According to Rose, fear of extremist violence prevented his memoir, Tavshedens Tyranni (The Tyranny of Silence), from finding an English-language publisher. (According to an English-language website for the book, “All rights [are] available,” with the relevant detail that any published version would contain “30–40 facsimiles, caricatures and photographs”).

“We had meetings with three or four big American publishers in 2008. My agent thought there would be an auction, but they all declined to make an offer.” Rose provided me with a translated manuscript of the book, a fascinating and gripping recapitulation of a personal—and political—universe transformed by religious fanaticism. I asked the obvious question: was the decision motivated by fear? “Yes, absolutely.”

Rose recalls one particularly positive meeting with a large American publisher. “During our conversation, [the editor] asked me to obtain the rights from the cartoonists. And then he just disappeared. Through my agent, he wrote me a private email saying, ‘I’m very sorry for this, but if it hadn’t been for all this fuss we would have been bidding on your book.’”

Another publishing executive asked Rose if he was “prepared to go through with this again?” The implication was clear: American publishers certainly weren’t.

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