Empire of Silence


Here’s me in City Journal on Breitbart and Journolist – an article that was sparked by a comment I made here on Ricochet but which puts that comment in context. When these media stories broke, I had just gotten word that my French publisher was canceling publication of my novel Empire of Lies for “political and religious” reasons:

The book’s French cancellation is, I realize, a rather small cultural event. Yet it gives specific color to the recent revelations on the Daily Caller website that left-wing journalists conspired to suppress scandals that might harm Barack Obama and to the brouhaha over Breitbart’s online release of a video that resulted in a government worker’s momentarily losing her job. In both stories, one thing leaps out at me: everywhere, the Left favors fewer voices and less information, and conservatives favor more. Everywhere, the Left seeks to disappear its opposition, whereas the Right is willing to meet them head-on.

Here’s the rest.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive

    I’ve always tried to follow the good advice that, at a dinner party, I should avoid talking about politics and religion (I suppose so that no fist fights take place). I was not aware that in France that advice now applies to all public discourse (including imaginative fiction).

    Digression: You’ve heard of the advertisement in a gun magazine: “Surplus French army rifles for sale: never fired, dropped once.”

    I guess the French can’t handle Klaven fiction either.

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  2. Profile Photo Member


    It’s vexing that the French will be deprived of your book, and you’re right in objecting to some of what is on Journolist (especially the race stuff), but I must respectfully disagree with some of the conclusions you reach in your article. Its important to note that while a few Journolist members encouraged their colleagues to write less about Jeremiah Wright, they didn’t suppress the story — the MSM covered it exhaustively, many folks on Journolist included.

    As for Breitbart, you say that he “only wants more information, while the left-wing media too often operate through obscurantism and suppression.” In fact, he has an ideological agenda that goes far beyond “more information,” and w/r/t the Shirley Sherrod tape, his motive was embarrassing the NAACP.

    I’d feel a lot better about his Web sites if, after leading his audience to believe that Juan Carlos Vera was willing to be complicit in child smuggling, he would’ve publicly exonerated the poor man when it turned out that he actually contacted police about the plot shortly after undercover filmmakers visited him. Phone records and testimony from two police officers confirm this. Breitbart is aware of this.

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  3. Profile Photo Podcaster

    Andrew, allowing that individuals and business reserve the right to act in their own self interest, as long as it is not a governmental decision, fine. Are you free to take it to another publisher?

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  4. Profile Photo Member

    Many public schools and universities celebrate a “Banned Books Day” or week or month. Somehow, I doubt your book will be included on their lists.

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  5. Profile Photo Contributor

    EJ, no one denies the publisher’s rights – though they breached my contract, I wouldn’t want to be published where I’m not wanted. They paid me in full and I can go elsewhere. To me, none of that is to the point. Nor, Conor, does it matter whether Breitbart’s a partisan. Of course he is. My point is merely that the attitude on the left is one of suppression (as in the dropping of the name Islam to describe… well, Islam), intimidation (the use of the word “racist,” for instance, to silence argument), and purposeful ignorance (failing to cover Clinton’s adultery, ACORN or indeed Jeremiah Wright until absolutely forced to – or jumping on phony scandals like Joe the Plumber and Valerie Plame’s exposure to distract from real scandals like Obama’s economic policy and Joe Wilson’s dishonesty). The right acts with partisanship but not through silence, rather the opposite.

    And by the way, Empire of Lies is fiction. The protagonist is a conservative Christian, but his word is not always reliable and his opinions are always arguable. It’s his mere existence they couldn’t tolerate. That would never happen on the right.

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  6. Profile Photo Podcaster

    Andrew, sometimes being “banned” is good box office. You might actually gain readers because of it.

    When we talk about the left’s tendency to embrace totalitarian methods I wish I had the money to produce the following experiment in a documentary form: Take two groups of about 50 people each, one “progressive” and the other conservative, and tell them that a major think tank is asking them to write a new American Constitution for the 21st Century. Which group would emerge with a liberty embracing document and which would write a cumbersome tome that would create governmental intrusion into life on an unheard of scale? I think the outcome might be too predictable but could be entertaining…

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  7. Profile Photo Inactive

    The most disturbing element in this matter is the preemptive dhimmitude of the French cultural elite. Muslims in Europe no longer need to threaten violence in order to suppress Western ideas and values. The intelligentsia suppress speech all on their own. It’s disgusting and a harbinger of Europe’s demise.

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  8. Profile Photo Inactive

    A little OT: Can you publish with another publisher in France?

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  9. Profile Photo Contributor

    You’re proving altogether too charming and easygoing about the cancellation of your book, Andrew–so I think, anyway. Pachyderm got it exactly right: “The [European] intelligentsia [now] suppress speech all on their own.”

    This is an outrage.

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  10. Profile Photo Contributor

    All right, Peter, I’ll stop being easygoing: It is an outrage. As for the charm, I can’t help it. I just can’t help it.

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  11. Profile Photo Member

    Conor appears to be right- it does appear from that report that Mr. Vera was treated shoddily; that does not suggest that the rest of the videos were pretty ugly and paint a more clear-cut story. Vera’s story in the report appears to check out, at least meriting the benefit of the doubt. Of course, there is the possibility that his relative helped him cook up the story, but the burden of proof is on O’Keefe, and better context makes for less headline-grabbing. I’m not a fan of “gotcha” by either side.

    On the original topic, fortunately for this side of the pond, my English language copy of Empire of Lies arrived safely, and I will tackle it as soon as I finish the history book I am just completing.

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  12. Profile Photo Member

    Bad editing- “that does not suggest that the rest of the videos were not pretty ugly”

    Double negatives always get you in trouble…..

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