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  • Writer's pictureSara Sharpe

Conflict sells, but we're not buying



Hi Friend,


I recently met with a former book publisher to discuss turning these letters into a book. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but it was clear early on we were not on the same page as it were.


“I like what you’ve got here,” he said, “but have you thought about striking a different, less conciliatory tone? People love conflict and controversy. Honestly, I’m not sure there would be much interest in your letters such as they are.”


Sigh.


I understand where he’s coming from. As part of my homework for this call, I was supposed to look up books like mine on some level. I found three at least, two of which very definitely struck a less-than-conciliatory tone (one of which was a national bestseller): CONSERVATIVE COMEBACKS TO LIBERAL LIES and THE ANTI-LIBERAL MANIFESTO: LETTERS TO THE LEFT FROM A CONSERVATIVE COMMONER. (The third book, LETTER TO A CONSERVATIVE, written by popular entertainer Steve Allen, is kinder in tone and/but was written in 1965.)


Those first two books would certainly be to our publisher's liking. The back cover of the bestselling CONSERVATIVE COMEBACKS book reads, “Let's say you're listening to a loony liberal, debating some dopey Democrat, or arguing with a gaggle of goofy lefties. Wouldn't it be great to have the facts to combat all those liberal lies?” The book is then riddled with misinformation and many more opinions (“claims”) than lies and truths. To wit:


[Liberal] Claim: “Criminals should be rehabilitated, not locked up. We need to build more hospitals, not more prisons.”
[Conservative] Response: “The purpose of our penal code is not rehabilitative. It’s to punish those who break the law so law-abiding citizens are protected from those who may harm them.”

These are opinions, obviously, not lies and/or truths. Furthermore, they are deeply held and vitally important opinions. Reasonable people can and should have discussions along these lines. But I can assure you that the point of this book is not to encourage respectful dialogue.  


The back cover of THE ANTI-LIBERAL MANIFESTO is even more acerbic. “Red-blooded Americans,” it reads, “are getting sick and tired of the woke scams of liberal lunatics...” I opened the book randomly just now and read the following: “So no, liberal douchebags, we do not accept your “science” as fact. You are not the virtuous Saints you advertise yourselves to be. You are a death cult, and you will be held accountable.”


Again, sigh.


These books are written by people who believe themselves indisputably, unilaterally right, while believing all who disagree with them indisputably wrong.


Can I say, again, friend, that I never believe myself to be always right? Nor will I ever believe you to be always wrong. As we learned in our last two letters, we are genetically predisposed to think differently, which, helpfully, means that humans come to the earth with a built-in set of checks and balances. Meaning, also, that our varying “claims” ought to be respected, interrogated, and ultimately used to find solutions that work for a pluralistic society.


It might not make for a best-selling book, but as for me and my Letters? I will continue to honor and respect you, friend, despite our differences, just as I know you will honor and respect me.


I don’t think we are as alone in this as some folks would have us believe.


Onward we go,


Sara

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