“Instead of actual debate about ideas and issues with real consequences, the country is trapped in a political discourse that increasingly resembles professional wrestling.” Americans on both sides of the political aisle will readily agree with this sentiment, although they may be shocked to learn with whom they are agreeing. If you’ve read Ann Coulter’s Slander, then you may recognize this as hers, and since she’s the expert at derailing talk from “actual debate about ideas and issues,” I’ll not stray from her example for this piece.
Ann Coulter is the Queen of the Soundbyte. The above excerpt is so obviously true, but that isn’t what makes it quotable. What makes Ann Coulter dominate the airwaves is that she’s the one talking. This quote is all over the Internet because it came from her, someone known for crude commentary. She works it like magic again here:
“[C]onservatives in America are the most tolerant (and long-suffering) people in America.”
This statement is fascinating because she counts herself as a conservative, and by extension, tolerant. It begs us to name her “hypocrite” by pairing her remark with any one of the following Ann Coulter statements, or all. You choose.
1. “I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo.”
2. “There are only two things gay men can’t do. Number one, get married to each other. Number two, throw a baseball without looking like a girl.”
3. “If you wanted to teach people about the great things about America, a college campus is the last place you’d send them. Even fanatical Muslim terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do.”
4. “Raghead talks tough. Raghead faces consequences.”
5. “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.”
Making Ann Coulter look foolish is easy. All you need is a reflective surface. The above is case in point. Nevertheless, she’s brilliant at making millions through invective, but like most others who do, she’s a sore loser whence cometh the mirror. Grappling for mastery over a closely divided nation’s opinions, Ann believes the problem lay in informational delivery systems – a flagrant media bias – and likens the crime to mass murder committed by a mentally handicapped gang of elites.
“I think, on the basis of the recent Supreme Court ruling that we can’t execute the retarded, American journalists commit mass murder without facing the ultimate penalty. I think they are retarded. I’m trying to communicate to the American people and I have to work through a retarded person!”
If we can consider flagrant media bias “mass murder,” – media bias, a crime she jokingly believes worthy of the death penalty, even if you’re “retarded” – then how would Ann have us judge Ann in the Court of Public Opinion? Would the author of seven bestsellers, with such fair-minded titles as Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, and Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, have us judge her more leniently than the “retarded” biased media? Ann would likely say, “yes,” insisting her message, by its Truth, is above reproach.
Ann Coulter is masterful in her approach to populism. She follows closely the playbook of another notable populist speaker named Adolf Hitler, who once said, “All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.” This well illustrates Ann’s effective invective. Her strategy of “dumbing down” her message to reach the masses through “retarded” American journalists is as brilliant as it is deadly. Her words darkly fertilize hatred and bigotry in the very soul of America. The technique comes directly from the playbooks of despots, historical and modern, monsters who also believed they espoused valuable content in concentrated form by peeling away superfluous layers of civility. Ann boldly asks, “Why phrase it nicely?” Hitler agrees, saying, “Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice,” and, “Hate is more lasting than dislike.”
Yet, she too is infected by her own vitriolic illness; it would not do for Ann to double back and concede she’s gone too far. Hitler explains, “As soon as by one’s own propaganda even a glimpse of right on the other side is admitted, the cause for doubting one’s own right is laid.” By admitting she’s gone too far when she says something like, “I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo,” she undermines the core of her own propaganda. Further, her hatred of liberals would diminish to mere dislike, and dislike simply doesn’t endure.
It has become popular to compare political adversaries to Nazis in today’s politics, but is anyone else suggesting that it may be because the shoe fits?