Bookseller Protests Trump – He Won’t Be the Last

Here’s a bit of ex post facto news which is bound to be repeated given that Trump has won the election.

saguerties-bannerIn the weeks leading up to 8 November, Brian Donahue, owner of Inquiring Minds Bookstore in Saugerties, NY, drew protests and citations for zoning violations when he installed a window display which drew comparisons between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler.

The display featured 18 books about Trump and about the history of Nazi Germany and small signs which explained the purpose of the display as well as a banner (at right).

You can read about the protests and the zoning citations in the ABA newsletter, Irish Examiner, or local news site Hudson Valley One.

Here’s the Daily Freeman’s take:

Store owner Brian Donoghue said he expected the display to ignite controversy, though it took about two weeks from the time he put up the 4-by-4-foot sign for protesters to voice objections.

Wednesday’s protest was organized by Angie Minew, a former member of the Saugerties school board and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for an Ulster County Legislature seat last year.

A heated discussion outside the store between Minew and Donoghue focused on whether there was a commercial intent to the display, which also features books critical of Trump surrounded by books about the rise of Hitler and the German Third Reich.

“I have a problem with the fact that you used a swastika, I have a problem that [it] represents hate and genocide … and I also have a problem that you’re making money off the books that you so obviously hate,” Minew told the store owner.

Donoghue, whose store is at Main and Partition streets in the village, countered that the books were not displayed for promotion — though he said he would sell them if asked — but rather were intended to reflect what he sees as historical parallels.

“The reason I did this was, in watching some of the Trump rallies, I really felt I was in prewar (World War II) Nazi Germany,” he said. “… I saw neo-Nazis there, I saw absolute hate, hate in their hearts, and it scared me for my family. It scared me for my children’s future. …

“I thought this is Nazi Germany happening again and I felt compelled to alert my community and alert the people around me that we need to pay attention to this.” Donoghue added. “This man (Trump) is dangerous.”

On Tuesday, Donoghue was issued a notice by village Code Enforcement Officer Eyal Saad that said the sign violates the village’s rules regarding the size of window signs and that the store has until Nov. 1 to come into compliance with the law. The notice makes no mention of Trump or the swastika.

Saad did not return a reporter’s call Wednesday, but village Mayor Bill Murphy said there is some question about whether further enforcement action should be taken given that Election Day is less than three weeks away.

“I spoke with the Historic Review Board this morning, and their take is as distasteful and everything as it is, it is a political sign and he could be within his rights for political signage,” the mayor said.

With the support of the American Bookseller’s Association, Donahue was ultimately successful in protesting Trump and reportedly removed the banner after the election.

The ABA covered the second half of the story in its newsletter last week.

At this point that display is old news, but what with Trump winning the election this will not be the last time we read of a bookstore owner getting in trouble for using a window display to make political statements.

One would hope that future conflicts will be resolved as peaceably as this one, but that would be unrealistic.

As you might recall from the Bush administration, the 43rd president was roundly mocked for eight years.

One can only assume Trump will be in for four years of vituperative ridicule which will make the Nazi allusions seem like a bad joke.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Smoley12 November, 2016

    And at the Farmers’ Market down the street there are rows of fresh cut pansies strategically displayed nex to boxes of sour grapes. Who cares?

    1. poiboy12 November, 2016

      way to stay positive. lol

  2. jorgen13 November, 2016

    The bookseller should not just display history books on Nazi Germany; he should read some of them. He might learn that Nazi Germany was a totalitarian regime much like Obama’s where the government agencies attacked whoever didn’t agree with the run of Germany. He might also learn that the Nazis are socialists like Obama and Hillary and the Mayor of NY. He might even understand that freedom means less government rather than more government.

    But, Nate, this inquiring mind would like to know why you are writing about a single badly educated bookseller who probably doesn’t even sell digital books – you know, the topic of your blog?

    1. Hayden13 November, 2016

      I am over all this political commentary after the election,

      however, I am intrigued as to why someone would question a blog entry in a country where freedom of speech is supposedly part of a person’s rights.

      1. jorgen13 November, 2016

        I am not. I am asking why he doesn’t stick to the topic of his blog. At the same time I explained two reasons (out of many) why he is wrong.

        1. Hayden13 November, 2016

          Thanks for clearing it up for me. I was just concerned that perhaps people who complain most loudly about states controlling people’s right to free speech, then telling other people what to speak or not speak about. Hopefully during the new president’s term, we can all speak our minds and not be questioned for doing so

      2. BDR13 November, 2016

        “… a totalitarian regime just like Obama’s”

        When you make asinine comments like that, it’s hard to accept you as anything more than a complete fool with nothing of value to say.

        Know that Trump’s campaign was run by the Alt-Right and that the Alt-Right now has a major place in planning his administration. Google Alt-Right if you’re ignorant of it; they don’t *just* want to get rid of Muslims and Hispanics — ALL Hispanics –; Blacks and Jews are *also* on their list of groups they want gone from America.

    2. Thomas13 November, 2016

      Normally I’d make a comment here about Nazis having about as much in common with socialists as North Korea does with a “Democratic Republic”, but I don’t think you’d listen to me anyway.

  3. Reader13 November, 2016

    The bookseller has every right to display such a sign. However, the bookseller might consider that by displaying such a sign, he is driving away some potential customers- which is why most businesses maintain a politically neutral stance.

  4. Moriah Jovan13 November, 2016

    Forcing him to take it down is just flat wrong. But … the village has rules regarding the size of window signs? Srsly?!

    1. Nate Hoffelder13 November, 2016

      While the idea of zoning laws make sense in general, I don’t understand this one either.

  5. Bob15 November, 2016

    This idiocy of a business insulting a large swath of their customers reminds me of the answer Michael Jordan gave to why he did not broadcast his politics:
    “Republicans buy shoes too.”

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