A book review:
Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America, by Ann Coulter (Crown Forum, 2011)
Coulter’s two-part thesis: (1) Liberals (read “Democrats”) stir up unthinking mobs deliberately, tell lies to do so, and encourage the mobs to do violent and immoral acts. (2) Conservatives do not stir up mobs because they are too honest and too moral to do so.
Over 300+ pages, Coulter assails us with strange arguments and odd facts. My own threshold question is whether Coulter really knows how unsupported and silly her ideological propositions are. Mind you, Coulter is a brilliant person. She graduated near the top of her class from the University of Michigan Law School. She clerked at the Federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Dummies don’t get to do that. Her schedule and, for that matter, her apparent robust health bespeak great personal discipline. Does she just wear ideological blinders? Is she intellectually sloppy? Or is she pandering to an already highly politicized body of readers, feeding them what they want to hear and will accept without question?
Oh, part of Coulter’s thesis is correct. Liberals do indeed use “the mob” and mob psychology to generate support, ultimately in the form of votes. And money, don’t forget money. So do conservatives. And advertisers. And religions of all stripes. Damn near anyone who knows The Truth is willing to abandon the conversational voice and go straight to the emotional ramjet.
I wonder - did Coulter watch a particularly disturbing movie about the French Revolution as a child? She uses a lengthy and graphic (and accurate) description of the viciousness of the French Revolution to support her belief that Liberals were behind the French and Liberals want to do the same thing today. She wants to make a cosmic connection between Marie Antoinette and Sarah Palin, even though their outcomes have been rather different. Coulter ignores little facts: Modern “liberalism” did not exist in the 18th century; the regimes which use such extremes of violence these days really have nothing to do with modern concepts of either Liberalism or Conservatism. They’re just nasty-ass people.
Coulter throws in attacks on the raging, bad-hair stumblebum of the Democrats, Al Sharpton, as a principal instigator of the mob. Good Lord, I hope that people aren’t stupid enough to listen to Al Sharpton these days. (Or Ann Coulter. Or ... oh, hell, it’s quite a list.) Coulter dwells on the mishandling of the reopening of the Central Park Rape case as further “proof” of the Liberal mob conspiracy. Makes no sense to you? Now you are getting her real message.
Some facts get a workout. I didn’t know that the Burr-Hamilton duel had a Conservative-Liberal cast applicable to today, but there you have it. Oh, and Coulter asserts that Hamilton threw the duel on moral grounds. What probably happened is far more complicated, buried in the arcana of Code Duello and the fact that Hamilton’s son had been killed in a duel. But something of the “He threw the duel and the bastard killed him”-variety is a much more exciting read. (Ironically, Coulter does a stirring description of Paul Revere’s ride, unlike her amiga simpática Palin. Could her true calling be as an historian?)
And then there are a couple of head-scratching-you-gotta-be-shitting-me places. Per Coulter, 40,000 black men rape white women every year, and less than 10 white men rape black women. This seems unlikely in a population of 300 million but, indeed, some years’ FBI statistics support that. On the other hand, the statistics are so far all-over-the-map, they are simply lame if one has studied, say, arithmetic. In 2002, white-on-black rape happened 8,400 times, according to the FBI; in 2003, none. Maybe, just maybe, the figures are suspect. If the point were that there’s lots more black-on-white rape reported, that’s accurate. It’s just not as shocking and doesn’t - dare we suggest - motivate the mob nearly as well. And the website of James Von Brunn, the National Holocaust Museum shooter, was sold to AOL for $315 million. No kidding? Come on, maybe that’s sloppy editing and she really meant $315 thousand? But AOL can’t be that dumb, either. Pull the other one.
My favorite minor silly conclusion was that Jimmy Carter’s abandonment of the Shah of Iran “gave rise to the global Islamofascist movement we’re still dealing with today.” Right, had Carter shown some cojones, the Islamic nutjobs would have gone right home. (By the way, “fascist” doesn’t accurately describe Islamic governments, except insofar as it’s used these days like “Nazi,” a pejorative meaning really bad people.)
Coulter concludes, “Why Would Anyone Be a Liberal?” She makes a strange brew of whining “Please Like Me” milquetoasts who “admire marauding criminals,” balancing them against the “manly” conservative ethic. Huh? Why would anybody be Coulter's cartoon-anything?
Come on, time for Dr. Reality: In a society of one-man-one-vote, everybody who wants/needs the votes will turn to inciting “the mob,” whoever they think the mob may be. That applies to EVERYONE. Think the Tea Party - a self-righteous mob. AARP - Silver haired mobsters. Pro-Choice - mobs. Pro-Life - mobs. Does this mean that they are wrong? No, has nothing to do with right/wrong. Does it mean that they are insincere? Quite the contrary - The True Believers think it’s moral and justified and necessary to arouse the Mob. (Note: I don’t include the ACLU - they do such strange shit that they piss everybody off.)
Coulter decries the Liberals’ “Toxic Rhetoric.” Her latest book is toxic rhetoric to goad her own version of the mob. It’s easy to stir things up. It’s DAMN hard to reason things out.