During my years at Regnery Publishing, we published three books by second lady Karen Pence and her daughter, Charlotte. Perhaps you remember the fracas: Karen and Charlotte wrote a lovely children’s book teaching kids about a typical day in the life of our country’s vice president. The book featured their pet bunny, Marlon Bundo.
TV personality John Oliver seized the opportunity to unleash a toxic rant against Vice President Mike Pence and released his own book mocking not only the Pence family, but millions of unsuspecting Christians throughout the country.
Oliver’s ugly attacks—and the lovefest showered on him by the media—had nothing to do with the content of the Pence bunny book. Much like the Broadway actors on stage who interrupted their own performance to berate the Pence family in the audience, the left simply will not tolerate Christian beliefs in the person of the vice president of the United States.
We were proud to publish the Pence ladies, and proud of their grace and resolve during the firestorm that ensued.
Fast-forward to 2021. Mike Pence has just signed a seven-figure deal to publish his memoir. Which publisher did he decide to sign with? Simon and Schuster. The same Simon and Schuster who canceled Sen. Josh Hawley’s book for the unconscionable act of requesting an inquiry into the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill protests. The same Simon and Schuster who canceled Milo Yiannopoulos’s book, another outspoken challenger of the left’s narrative.
How long will it take for the left to rally the mob and protest the Pence book, I wonder? After all, we “know” that Pence, along with all his fellow Christians, is homophobic and racist. They support killer cops and promote the “myth” of election fraud, all for the purpose of disenfranchising minorities. How can a New York publisher permit such an author to remain on their list?
Even if you thought S&S might tolerate Donald Trump’s second-in-command, remember that they are in the midst of being acquired by an even larger New York publisher—Penguin Random House. This presents Pence with two problems: If the cancel culture doesn’t castrate him, the disruption and politics of a giant merger promise little collaboration and support from his publishing partner.
What will it take for Pence to keep his big advance and his New York book deal? Will he be allowed to mention his Christian values? Will he have to apologize for serving under President Trump? Will he be obliged to dismiss calls for border security or distance himself from Americans who reject identity politics and critical race theory? Perhaps he can simply deliver his daughter’s pet bunny as a sacrificial offering.
There is nothing wrong with a large publisher working with authors from across the political spectrum. In fact, it’s proof that they honor their professed commitment to diversity. But that’s not the path the Big 5 have taken recently. Instead, they have caved to pressure from an uninformed, immature, and intolerant mob demanding that conservative voices be silenced.
Of course, not all conservatives are being canceled—at least, not yet. If you check the right boxes (“Yes, you’re right, Trump was a fascist”) , and bow to the correct woke demigods (“Yes, you’re right, all white people are racist, even if they don’t know it”), you are allowed to remain at the party so far, as long as you sit quietly in the corner.
But fear and silence do not promote liberty. They kill it.
Former vice president Pence has two choices: write a tame book that steers very carefully away from any controversial issue, carefully avoids praising former President Trump, shares nothing of consequence, and asks nothing of the reader. Or attempt to write a book that honestly champions the Trump-Pence administration’s successful policies on energy, immigration, trade, Israel, taxes, criminal justice, opioids, government regulation, and defense of religious liberty—and risk the wrath of the woke police and cancellation of his contract.
I’d love to see Pence lean in to the conservative agenda he’s promoting with his brand new nonprofit, Advancing American Liberty, and in a recent Washington Times editorial. I’d love to see Simon and Schuster publish a full-throated endorsement of the Trump-Pence agenda. But I’m not holding my breath. I expect Pence will stay in his lane with his memoir, providing one more example that leftist corporate media can buy conservatives’ complicity.
When will we learn that appeasement doesn’t avoid war? Sleeping with the enemy weakens your allies as well as your resolve. It’s time for conservative authors to refuse to work with New York publishers who are hostile to their values, dismissive of their service, and determined to punish them when they step out of line.
I will add one note of hope: as the militant left beats their drum louder and louder, conservatives outside the DC Beltway are beginning to wake up.
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