Tales from the put-upon conservatives

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On behalf of all liberals — living and dead — I'd like to apologize to Adam Bellow. In 1976, Bellow was at a Michigan State University writing workshop when a radical feminist publicly rebuked him for saying she had "balls." He says he meant that as a compliment.

Some formative experiences are forged in the hell of war, others in the crucible of writing class.

Bellow never recovered from his. In a recent piece for National Review, he recounts this 38-year-old hurt as exhibit A for why the right needs to launch its own literary movement to tell its own stories.

"I didn't see why I should be called out in front of the group and angrily chastised as though I were merely an embodiment of the white male heterosexual power structure," complains Bellow, son of the great novelist Saul Bellow.

I don't see why, either, but how about a larger picture? More recently, right-wingers disrupted town hall meetings, shouting down the elected representatives trying to address their constituents. Might that be "a bare-knuckled attempt to enforce an ideological orthodoxy by policing the boundaries of acceptable speech," an accusation Bellow chucks at the left?

Such examples would cloud the simple tale of mannerly conservatives battling the '60s hippies. So down the memory hole they go.

Anyhow, Bellow complains that when he joined the culture war in 1988 as an editor, "conservatives had little to read." One of the rare examples he cites was "The Road to Serfdom."

"Serfdom" is a classic we all should read. I especially hope its conservative fans will review Chapter 9, where Friedrich Hayek advocates government-guaranteed health care. But I digress.

Right books sell

Bellow acknowledges that on the nonfiction lists, the right is doing OK. Actually, more than OK.

A quick check shows that No. 1 and No. 7 are by conservative movement authors. No. 8 is by an evangelical Christian, and No. 10 by a Republican strategist. The only liberal in the lineup is Hillary Clinton at No. 3.

The top book, "Blood Feud," was issued by Regnery, a conservative publishing house. "For the past 15 years," the publisher's website says, "Regnery has boasted one of the best batting averages in the business — placing more than fifty books on the New York Times best-seller list, including nine books at No. 1."

The author at No. 7 is Ben Carson, a hero of the right. He's published by Sentinel, a conservative imprint of the Penguin Group. Perhaps, just perhaps, the objective of the media conglomerates now publishing books is to sell books.

But their business interests don't reach into fiction, according to Bellow. In fiction, conservative authors are "embattled and excluded."

Well, imagination is a good thing. And in that vein, I can almost hear the feminist meanie telling Bellow to "man up."

And don't anyone ask me to take that back. One apology per column.


Froma Harrop is a columnist for Creators.com. Twitter:fharrop@gmail.com