Where have all the morals gone? Well, not exactly song-worthy, but it is a question I think about a lot. You see, I work in publishing. Publishing, above all, is a business. People make their livelihood at it, and so they have to find a market that pays. Money and morals don’t mix well. A recent New York Times story pointed out that the political polarization that’s tearing America apart is reflected in bestsellers. Political nonfiction bestsellers have topped the charts since Trump was unfortunately elected. Books both pro and con have flooded the market. What’s this got to do with morals? Well, I believe publishing should be in the business of educating. If you’re going to publish nonfiction, it should be material that doesn’t cause more problems than it helps solve.
When I look at a book, after checking the title and author, I next look at the publisher. Some publishers are conservative, and that’s fine. That’s what they do. Most, however, consist of highly educated professionals who realize the severe, and continuing damage that Trump caused. These publishers, however, will produce pro-Trump books if the numbers look good. There’s gold in them thar hills! I often have these scruples working for an academic press. Some ideas are clearly distorted. I’m no elitist—I’m still pretty much working-class all the way down to the bones—but education reveals when something very bad (fascism) is happening. Others see it too. Still, the temptation of all those dollars… it’s a real pressure, almost like being at the bottom of the ocean. There’s money pressing on us and we want it.
The gray lady story bothered me. Instead of publishers looking out their windows and seeing the political grand canyon of this nation, they see profits. This is business, after all. Just business. Is there any such thing? Morality informs the way you live, the choices you make. Do I promote education, reflection, and sound reasoning or do I promote a very real 2024 threat of a man who leads by refusing to lead? After elected Trump immediately began campaigning for his next term, loving the rallies, the cheers, the adulation. Who doesn’t want to be worshiped? But is that what we want to see three Novembers from now? I remember the shock the morning after election day 2016 in New York City. I see the damage four years of environmental degradation caused just when the effects of global warming were becoming obvious. I see women demeaned. I see voting rights quashed. And now I look at the bestseller list and wonder where the morals have gone.