Marci McDonald's anti-Christian book is a commercial flop
Marci McDonald's anti-Christian book launched in a blitz of publicity but immediately hit a wall of negative reviews, and the embarrassment of dozens of factual errors having to be pointed out to her, including very basic and well-known facts about Canadian politics.
She appeared on practically every public affairs talk show in the country, and was given great publicity by her critics (including me). All of which hasn't been enough to prop up sales, which are sagging badly.
According to this list of Canadian best-sellers, she slumped from 6th place last week to 10th place this week, barely a month after publication. If my experience as an author is anything to go by, being tenth in non-fiction sales in Canada means sales of under 1,000 copies a week -- probably more like 500 copies (or even less).
The book is a flop, and deservedly so. It's mainly a collection of gossip, written in a rambling style that is largely unreadable. And even the parts that make some sense are just so factually unreliable, the book really is of no use to anyone, even those who agree with its bigoted thesis that Christians are evil and dangerous.
Last week the Ottawa Citizen ran a desperate whinge from McDonald, wherein she indicated her surprise that she couldn't crap on Christians without being in turn criticized herself. I was so pleased to see it, because it tells me that times have changed. I think McDonald's right: a few decades ago -- say, around when her book jacket publicity photo was taken -- she probably could have vomited forth her attack on Christians without any pushback. Talk radio was undeveloped, the Internet wasn't around and you could count conservative columnists in the country on one hand: Lubor Zink, Peter Worthington, Barbara Amiel, George Jonas, Ted Byfield and I think I just finished the list. McDonald doesn't like to be criticized, especially from mere citizen writers. She wants her 1970s back.
Here's the letter to the editor that I wrote in reply to McDonald's op-ed. The Citizen wanted to make too many editorial changes to it for my liking, so I withdrew it, but I'm happy enough to publish it here. The battle is pretty much over: Canadians have sized up her book and don't like it. The fact that Random House will likely never recoup their book advance to their house bigot is especially pleasing to me. And that's without even counting the defamation suits -- I know of at least one legal demand letter to Random House that, if not met with the appropriate apology and correction, could probably take whatever meagre revenues the book has earned.
All in all, a happy ending to a bigoted book by an ageing slanderer.
Here's my letter:
I’ve pointed out so many factual errors in Marci McDonald’s book, The Armageddon Factor, I think her publisher should start paying me for my proofreading work.
Besides the lists of mistakes I pointed out in two columns in the National Post (not three columns, as McDonald claims – does that count as another error?), here are a few more.
Craig Chandler has never been a “member of the provincial legislature” (page 297). Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act does not ban “any acts” that could incite hatred – only comments made on the Internet or telephone answering machines (p. 303). McDonald says human rights lawyer Gerry Chipeur believes the need for such commissions is “greater than ever” (p. 303). Actually, he filed a brief with the courts calling those commissions’ activities unconstitutional.
TVO’s Steve Paikin demolished McDonald’s error-ridden history of Ontario, such as her claims that Bernard Shapiro was Premier Bill Davis’s education minister, or that Davis extended public funding to Catholic high schools (p. 221). McDonald says “Bush’s Roadmap to Peace” in the middle east was “roundly condemned by all sides” (p. 311). In fact it was adopted by the U.N., Russia and the European Union and Israel and the Palestinians began to implement it.
Andrea Mrozek never wrote what McDonald said she wrote (p. 91) and Terry O’Neill did write what McDonald claims he didn’t (p. 119). Mr. O’Neill’s defamation lawyers have contacted Random House demanding a correction and apology. I would be surprised if he’s the only one.
Do I really need to continue?
But the biggest falsehood is McDonald’s claim in these pages that “my book is in no way an attack on faith nor do I question the right of men and women of faith to voice their convictions in the public square.”
Really? McDonald calls Christians “retrograde and exclusionary”, “dark and dangerous”, “militant”, “radical”, and practitioners of “apartheid”.
If McDonald’s book was called “The Likud Factor”, and listed every “dark and dangerous” Jew in the Canadian government, we’d call McDonald an anti-Semite.
Sorry, a bigot’s a bigot’s a bigot.