When my agents were circulating the proposal for the book I’m writing – which is in part about my political migration – one rather famous editor at a big publishing house rejected it by saying “I don’t understand why he changed.” I’ve been at the lit game for too many years to take these things personally, but that was a head scratcher since my reasons filled about half my twenty-page proposal. Had she read it? (Well, maybe she hadn’t.)
An alternative explanation is that she had read it but the words made no impact. Bad writing? Again, possible (although several other publishers were interested and one ultimately bought it). In any case, this particular rejection had gone the way of myriad similar events in my life, into deep memory, only to surface again yesterday when I was trying to calm myself down about two news events, both related to a woman named Boxer.
I have learned by hard experience not to blog with steam coming out of my ears. And sometimes I even heed this knowledge. But these two women strained my patience until I remembered the New York editor. Neither Boxer – Barbara of the Senate or Sarah of The New York Times (part time anyway) – is capable of processing the world around them. Times have changed but they have not. Senator Boxer goes on and on about missing WMDs as if democracy in the Middle East was an inconsequential side issue. Writer Boxer opines blithely about Iraqi bloggers as if they didn’t exist as real people. Both these women have been reified. Their fusty brand of liberalism is no longer a political or moral view, but simply an “object of opinion,” a stance of no more moment than sports fandom and equally substantial. Other human lives are beside the point. How they appear to themselves and their supporters is everything.
UPDATE: Ali responds to Sarah Boxer here. I wonder if Ms. Boxer has learned anything from this experience.