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.
In 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).
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.