by Sarah Augusto
notoriously anti-liberal Ann Coulter begins her new book, Slander,
with a critique of political debate in the United States. Coulter states
that “Instead of actual debate about ideas and issues with real consequences,
the country is trapped in a political discourse that increasingly resembles
professional wrestling”. If political debate in the United States is
the World Wrestling Federation, then Ann Coulter is the SmackDown champion. Slander consists
of little more than an angry tirade against all things liberal expressed
through sarcastic, inflammatory, and often misleading language. For someone
so concerned with the quality of political debate, it is interesting
that Coulter seems more concerned with bashing liberals and glorifying
conservatives than presenting rational, coherent arguments.
claims that liberals are angry, bitter, vicious, hate-mongering name-callers
who make issues out of nothing. Ironically, Coulter is guilty of everything
of which she accuses liberals, except that instead of making issues out
of nothing, she makes nothing out of issues. For example, Coulter deems
ethnic profiling “nonexistent” and states that “the ‘religious right’ refers
to an organization that, strictly speaking, in the technical sense, doesn’t
exist”. I guess the hundreds of young Arab men searched, arrested, and
detained without charges in recent months were all chosen at random. Furthermore, while the religious right may
not be an organization “in the technical sense”, it most certainly does
exist and exerts a hefty influence in United States politics and culture.
Among other things, they have influenced the president’s decision to
provide federal funding for faith based initiatives, cut funding to international
family planning funds, send anti-abortion delegates to the United Nations,
and push for school vouchers.
even more disturbing is Coulter’s assertion that “the gravest danger
facing most black Americans today is the risk of being patronized to
death”. Coulter even goes as far as to compare liberals to the Ku Klux
Klan because “liberals and white supremacists are the only people left
in America who are neurotically obsessed with race”. Apparently, liberals’ “infernal
racial set-asides, race quotas, and race norming” are unnecessary because
racism, like ethnic profiling, is virtually nonexistent.
On the other hand, Coulter is quick to point out that “Conservatives
champion a color-blind society”. While we can easily replace “color-blind” with
blind to discrimination, Coulter nonetheless argues “conservatives in
America are the most tolerant (and long-suffering) people in America” This
from the woman who remarked that if Islamic terrorists had enough energy
to hate America as much as liberals, “they’d have indoor plumbing by
now”. There’s tolerance for you.
also manipulates information and spins half-truths to back her arguments,
often presenting information that is clearly deceptive when viewed in
its original context. For example, she refers to a New York Times editorial
about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and then goes on to say that “He
is called a ‘colored lawn jockey for conservative white interests,’ ‘race
traitor,’ ‘black snake,’ ‘chicken-and–biscuit-eating Uncle Tom,’ ‘house
Negro’ and ‘handkerchief head,’ ‘Benedict Arnold’ and ‘Judas Iscariot’”.
The paragraph is cleverly crafted to make it look as if these insults
appeared in the Times, but the footnotes reveal that the first
four quotes were taken from an interview with former Surgeon General
Jocelyn Elders in Playboy magazine, while the last four were comments
made by Civil Rights leader Joseph Lowery at a meeting of the Southern
Christian Leadership Council.
shining example of Coulter’s misrepresentations is her repeated accusation
that Al Gore is a liar because he claimed to have invented the Internet.
In actuality, Gore never said that he “invented” the Internet. His actual
statement was “During my service in the United States Congress, I took
the initiative in creating the Internet”. While conceding that this statement
is ambiguous and poorly worded, Coulter takes it completely out of context.
In fact, Gore was one of the main political figures in promoting the
Internet as a means of economic growth and education.
also champions David Brock’s book The Real Anita Hill, pointing
out that although it was highly criticized by the left, it was a bestseller.
However, she fails to note that Brock later admitted that he had fabricated
evidence for the book. Nor does she mention that his next book was titled Blinded
by the Right: the Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. Interestingly enough, a few pages later Coulter remarks that “Books
that become publishing scandals by virtue of phony research, invented
facts, or apocryphal stories invariably grind political axes for the
left…but it’s hard to think of a single hoax book written by a conservative”.
Looks like someone didn’t do her homework.
of Coulter’s blatant inconsistencies is the fact that she engages in
name-calling throughout Slander despite the fact that such behavior
is one of her chief complaints about liberals. For example, she refers
to Al Gore as “little-Miss-Know-It-All”, and “Norman Bates in the last
scene of Psycho”. Gloria Steinem is “banal” and an “unaccomplished
feminist harpy”. Actresses Laura Flynn Boyle and Heather Grahm are “worthless
silicone nothings” and “anemic Hollywood starlets” for stating their
personal opposition to organized religion. The worst of it is saved for
liberals, of course, who Coulter calls “snobs”, “completely
unhinged”, “hateful and vicious”, “hate mongering”, “bitter”, “narrow-minded
and parochial”, and “savagely cruel bigots who hate ordinary Americans
and lie for sport”, among other things. Anyone willing to read through
her columns, which can be found at townhall.com and anncoulter.org, will
find that they, too, are filled with nasty insults and name-calling.
Coulter’s underlying premise about the ineffectiveness of current political
debate is a valid point, she completely discredits both herself and her
argument with the misrepresentations, half-truths, name-calling, and
sheer political malice that fills the pages of Slander.
Augusto was a PRA intern during the summer of 2002.