Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bethany House and Kate Breslin Respond to That Book

Yes, I'm still talking about this. It still needs to be talked about. Yesterday, a Jewish community in San Antonio woke up to find their cars and homes had been covered with Anti-Semitic graffiti.

Yesterday, Bethany House responded to the criticism in the most tone-deaf statement ever. I'm going to copy the whole thing here so you don't have to click over:
Bethany House Publishers is saddened by the offense some have taken at the novel For Such a Time by Kate Breslin. We respect and honor the Jewish faith, and this novel, inspired by the redemptive theme of the biblical book of Esther, was intended to draw on our common faith heritage.

Breslin reframes the Esther story in a Nazi transit camp during the Holocaust and portrays a courageous Jewish woman who by God's strength saved fellow Jews from death, and in so doing awakened the conscience of a man thought to be beyond redemption. She wrote this carefully researched story with respect for the Jewish people and their history. It was neither the author nor publisher's wish to offend, but rather to depict how one person can choose to put the lives of others ahead of her own and shine God's light into darkness.

For Such a Time has garnered favorable reviews from readers in many markets. The book was a finalist for several literary awards including two in the Romance Writers of America RITA® awards for "best first book" and "inspirational romance" categories.

Bethany House Publishers supports Kate Breslin and her writing. We have heard from many readers who are moved by this portrayal of courage, and we hope it continues to provide inspiration to others in the spirit of the author's intent.

Jim Parrish
Executive VP and Director
Bethany House Publishers
Division of Baker Publishing Group

They are saddened that people fighting for the right to safely worship recognized their book as part of the problem. They're not sorry about anything. They're just really sad. Our hurt and anger hurt their feelings. Our feelings don't matter, just theirs.

Because, they respect and honor the Jewish faith! (Just not actual Jewish people). Breslin did not write this book with respect for the Jewish people and their history. You do not respect a history by changing it. You do not respect a history by repeating the lie that blond hair and blue eyes would save you from the Holocaust. You do not respect the Jewish people when you have your character convert to Christianity. You do not respect the Jewish people when you use them and their history as props and plot points for your religious message. Because that's what Breslin respected with her book, her own religious world view. Not that of the Jewish faith.

I get that the author and publisher didn't mean to offend, BUT THEY DID. And they need to address that.

And hey, remember RWA's non-response?
The problem with it being a Finalist that they just didn't address? Bethany House is using that as a shield. (RWA likes us, why don't the Jews?) Who could have seen that one coming? (Oh wait, everyone. Everyone saw that coming.)

For an article in Newsweek (don't read that article. It's bad.) Breslin provided a statement:
I have previously stated in posts and interviews on social media that my inspiration for For Such A Time was borne from a compassion for the Jewish people, as in reading from the Book of Esther I realized how they have suffered at the hands of one society or another throughout history. It was my intent to write a book that told a more modern-day story of a courageous Jewish woman who, through strength and faith in her God, used her situation to try to save some of her beloved people—much in the way Esther saved hers. And like that Biblical queen’s influence with King Xerxes, through her brave and sacrificial actions, she helped to bring one man to a sense of conscience, prompting him to join in the attempt to save her people. I am heartsick and so very sorry that my book has caused any offense to the Jewish people, for whom I have the greatest love and respect.

She doesn't get it. She really doesn't get it, but you know what? She says she's sorry her words caused offense. She has great love and respect for the Jewish people. And compassion. Which is why she thinks "Jewess" is a good word to use. It's why she thinks images of Auschwitz with a Mother Theresa quotation are a great way to market her book about Theresienstadt .

She also co-opts Purim for her marketing, because COMPASSION AND LOVE AND RESPECT

(if she ever takes those tweets down, screen grabs here)

But then again, she thought Holocaust Remembrance Day was a GREAT time to promote her book that redeems Nazis.

Feel the respect and love? I don't. I feel used and co-opted for her message. There is no respect here.

(But according to Anne Rice, I'm not allowed to voice my concerns about this, because that's the same as murdering someone for fun and spectacle.)

The take away from all this? When it comes to the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, the Jews need to sit down and be quiet. The Christians are talking now.

So yes, I am still talking about this, and I will keep talking about this as long as I have to.

(But hey, I also have some positive response news to share. I didn't want to lump it in with these garbage responses, so I'm saving it for tomorrow. Stay tuned!)

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1 comment:

marjorie ingall said...

Brava. So tone-deaf, so determined not to listen to the members of the ACTUAL GROUP being depicted, so quick to invoke censorship and victimization.

Also, it's a gosh-darn shame when novelists we once enjoyed lose their marbles. Anne Rice, Anne Rice, why hast thou forsaken us? <— I JUST PARAPHRASED JESUS