February 16, 2017
Publishing during wartime, part IX: The flying monkeys multiply, but so does the opposition
by Dennis Johnson
On the day when the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report about a dramatic rise in hate groups that it blamed on “the Trump phenomenon” … on the day when the President was asked by an Israeli reporter if he felt any responsibility for the rise in American anti-Semitism and the President replied by describing his margin of victory in the election before finally noting that, yes, some of his best sons-in-law were Jewish … on this very same day, which is to say yesterday, the literary agent of one of Trump’s winged monkeys, the racist homophobe and Simon and Schuster author Milo Yiannopoulos, was given column inches in PW to declare, “I am proud of Milo Yiannopoulos and believe in his core message …”
Of course, he goes on to defend himself, this agent, by chanting the mantra of racists homophobes everywhere, which is that the “core message” is: America has gotten too PC. That’s what the Trump, I mean Milo, revolution is all about. That’s why it’s okay to be a racist homophobe.
By the way, this agent — remember his name: Thomas Flannery Jr. — also notes defiantly that he, like Yiannopoulos, is gay. Which is to say that he, like Yiannopoulos — the immigrant who hates immigrants, the gay guy who’s a homophobe — is just another one of those mystifying self-loathing sickos great and small who are typical of fascist movements. Think Reinhard Heydrich, the SS leader who was of Jewish descent and so founded Dachau.
Flannery also defends Yiannopoulos — and himself — by citing how “so-called progressives” “riot and destroy property” in the effort to shut down Yiannopoulos appearances. No mention, of course, that the ultimate violence that occurred at a Yiannopoulos event was perpetrated by a Yiannopoulos supporter: that is, the shooting of one of the peaceful protestors.
That story also had a development yesterday when a report in the Seattle Times — the only mainstream outlet that seems to be doing any serious coverage of the shooting — updated the police investigation with some odd news:
A cellphone belonging to the man who claims he shot and wounded another man in self-defense during a demonstration last month at the University of Washington had been wiped clean of data before being seized by police, according to search-warrant documents filed in King County Superior Court …
… The warrant, citing probable cause that a criminal assault had been committed, sought to review the contents of Hokoana’s phone, including phone calls, internet searches, text messages, photographs or GPS data from the night of Jan. 20.
Among other items, it sought “any mention of guns or shooting” or any effort by Hokoana to communicate with “associates or others about or pertaining to the above-listed crime or that provide evidence of motive or state of mind about the above-listed crime,” according to the warrant.
However, an inventory filed by Chuck Pardee, a forensic investigator for the King County Prosecutor’s Office, said nothing was found.
“It appears that the device had gone through a factory reset of some sort prior to it being examined,” he wrote.
In other words, police seem to be investigating whether the shooter might have been trying to organize something bigger — that is, whether he was a domestic terrorist. It’s mindful of the bizarre “pizzagate” case in Washington, a chillingly insane conspiracy theory boosted by the son of recently fired National Security Council head Michael Flynn, which prompted a heavily armed man to shoot up a pizzeria because he believed Hillary Clinton was running a child prostitution ring out of a back room. Subsequent investigations of the man’s social media accounts revealed he’d tried to get friends to join him and bring their guns.
No doubt Yiannopoulos himself will also ignore the fact that the only violence at one of his events wherein someone actually got hurt was due to one of his followers when he finally puts out his tome — delayed, it was announced on Tuesday, so that he could write about the “insanity” of the protests of his events.
But finally late yesterday there was a brief moment of sanity, when investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill announced he wouldn’t appear on Bill Maher’s Real Time program because it had booked Yiannopoulos. It’s worth the full tweet:
Why I will not appear this week on Real Time with Bill Maher. pic.twitter.com/SOoE3udrDr
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) February 15, 2017
All this happened on a day when it was easy to miss, when the Yiannopoulos story and the SPLC story were overwhelmed by the unfolding of Russiagate — as the language of Watergate starts to circle Trump, it’s hard not to think something may finally be sticking to him, and it’s hard not to get excited and totally absorbed by that.
But in the publishing industry’s section of the Trump battlefield, Scahill’s stance against Yiannopoulos is the most galvanizing development since Roxane Gay pulled her book.
It’s inspiring enough to ask: Book people! What are you doing to fight Trump’s flying monkeys in our industry?
See part one, Publishing during wartime
See Publishing during wartime, part II
See Publishing during wartime, part III
See Publishing during wartime, part IV
See Publishing during wartime, part V
See Publishing during wartime, part VI
See Publishing during wartime part VII
See Publishing during wartime, part VIII
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him at @mobylives