Friday, September 25, 2009

Ann Coulter: Neo-Conservative Museum Piece...

Book Review: "Guilty" by Ann Coulter

I don’t know why I read this book, but for some reason it caught my fancy and attention. I wondered how Ann Coulter would suffice now that her political party was out of office, and her previous mantra, accusing all who dissented from the policies of the “commander in chief” as treasonous would no longer suffice. I also wondered if Ann Coulter, like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and others would now be presenting herself as an “American Revolutionary” defying a “socialist” President.

My expectations of Coulter jumping off the Neo-Conservative train to nowhere and reviving the politics of Barry Goldwater and Robert Taft like her right-wing cohorts were disappointed.

Coulter’s book is mainly just yet another attack on the media, written almost formulaically at some points. Most of her chapters point to a perceived bias or hypocrisy in the press. She points to favorable coverage of a liberal politician, pundit, or activist. She then contrasts it with the unfavorable coverage of a conservative politician, pundit, or activist. She then throws in a usually cleverly worded and humorously sarcastic jab.

Most of the books chapters are merely compilations of passages modeling the above formula. She has one chapter in which she declares unmarried mothers to be the root of all social ills. She never seems to look at what may cause single motherhood’s existence or even the context in which it takes place. With her logic all social problems would evaporate if out of wedlock pregnancy were abolished or criminalized.

The only section of the book that was a remotely relevant political point was one where she lists Presidential Assassins, and claims to illustrate that all of them were ideologically leftists. She uses this as a basis to attempt to lampoon the media’s concern about the possibility of President Obama being assassinated.

Her historical errors make this selection laughable in some places, and tragically sad in others, when it is realized some would be capable of believing them.

Coulter’s tirade begins by calling John Wilkes Booth, the stage actor who shot Abraham Lincoln of being a leftist. Her basis for such a claim, is that Booth opposed the civil war, making him an “anti-war” activist, and that he shot Lincoln who was a Republican, making him a liberal like the Democrats. She also points out that Booth like leftist Sean Penn was an actor, as if this is somehow relevant.

These claims are utterly foolish on a number of levels. The associates of Booth and many other southern aristocratic families opposed the civil war because they were supporters of the racist, semi-fuedal order in the south, not because they were pacifists, hippies, or Marxist-Leninists.

Likewise, at the time of the civil war, the Republican Party was a liberal party, far to the left of the Republicans of our modern times. Lincoln was an outspoken supporter of organized labor, and in his campaign for re-election, he was endorsed by Karl Marx and the vast majority of U.S. socialists. Lincoln’s official basis for waging the civil war was opposition to the conservative mantra of “state’s rights,” used to this day by conservatives to defend Sodomy Laws and Abortion Bans, just as it was used to defend slavery in the 1860s.

Booth’s assassination of Lincoln was done because Booth was a wealthy “southern gentleman” filled with racial and class prejudice. He viewed the civil war as a violation of his freedom and “liberty.” Booth was also known to justify slavery by reciting passages from the Bible, in which slaves are ordered to obey their masters.

If Booth had not been killed shortly after his murder of Lincoln, and somehow lived until the present time, he would most likely be found today shouting “Sic Sempre Tyrannus” at Healthcare Town Hall Meetings with an AK-47 in place of his pistol.

Other claims are similarly deceptive. James Garfeild’s assassin, contrary to Coulter’s claims, was motivated by anger that the nepotism he had depended on, in the form of a high-paying government job, did not come to pass.

Lynn Fromm, the attempted assassin of Gerald Ford, though semi-accurately described as a “hippie” and a known drug user, committed the murder in support of the far-right, delusional, Objectivist, Libertarian cult leader Charles Manson, who based his cult’s mass murder on his specific interpretation of the book of Revelations.

I will of course, concede that the assassin of William Mckinnley was indeed a crazed Anarchist practicing ultra-left terrorism. I also concede that Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to shoot Gerald Ford was a young New Left radical, who indeed highly admired the bizarre Maoist-influenced sect called the Symbionese Liberation Army that kidnapped Patty Hearst.

Lee Harvey Oswald’s politics have been debated since the very day of he shot Kennedy. It is hardly an irrefutable fact that he was a Marxist, as Coulter presents the case. Many find it odd that he never so much as met another U.S. communist, but did a great deal of weird things such as write bizarre lengthy letters to Communist Party and Socialist Workers Party in stereo-typical “commie” language, looking as if they were a basis for a cover story.

John Hinkley shot Ronald Reagan because he was motivated by a crush on Actress Jodie Foster. Is hetro-sexual romance a leftist cause according to Coulter? Hinkley was also somewhat obsessed with “Catcher in the Rye,” a 1940s stream of consciousness novel that is quite anti-gay in more than a few of its passages.

Coulter claims that only famous person ever killed by right-wing assassins was Martin Luther King. This is an extremely odd delusion.

Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party was assassinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hardly a leftist grouping.

The National Guard of Ohio, after being ordered to load their rifles by a right-wing governor, James Rhodes, murdered four Kent State College students.

James Rector was shot and killed by the National Guard of California, sent in to Berkeley on orders of Ronald Reagan.

Emmit Till was beaten to death by two conservative southerners after he whistled at a white woman in 1954, violating the “traditional values” of the south.

Members of the right-wing “Fraternal Order of Police” shot Amadou Diallo 41 times for reaching for his wallet, saying they thought it was a gun.

Unlike the assassins Coulter names, all of the above listed murderers were never convicted in a court of law, and walked free.

Another member of the right-wing “Fraternal Order of Police”, Dan White, shot the Mayor of San Francisco and a city councilman named Harvey Milk who was the first openly Gay public official in U.S. history. White received only a three-year sentence for this double murder on the basis of the “twinky defense” in which he claimed that junk food had altered his mind causing the murder.

The Ku Klux Klan proudly murdered multiple civil rights workers in Mississippi, bombed multiple black churches killing thousands, and threatened to murder John Lennon on National TV, when protesting against The Beatles performance in Cleveland, Ohio.

The KKK has carried out a great deal of political violence. They can hardly be described as a “liberal” and “tolerant” organization, despite their violent tendencies and Ann Coulter’s need for them to be conservative in order for her logic to line up.

Timothy Mcviegh, the bomber of Oklahoma City’s Federal Building was a proud NRA member, Gulf War Veteran, and Christian Fundamentalist. His favorite book was The Turner Diaries a novel about a dystopia where oppressed white males wage Guerilla warfare against a socialistic US. This book, that also was the favorite of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine Massacre, is basically a milder version of the Reagan Era’s classically bad cult movie Red Dawn.

Currently the majority of prison murders in the U.S. are carried out by the Aryan Brotherhood, an organization that is devoted to anti-communism, white supremacy, strict border control, segregation, and Fundamentalist Christianity. This prison gang that has killed thousands is not by any stretch a “liberal” organization.

Ann Coulter’s claim that right-wing violence is non-existent contradicts factual reality. Even the FBI, a group she champions, admits that the Anti-Abortion movement, and the economic libertarians and constitutionalists of the “Montana Freeman” are the most active and dangerous violent political tendencies.

Most of Coulter’s book has no real relevance to me as a far left Marxist-Leninist. Attack after attack on Democratic Politicians is largely irrelevant to me.

I found her claims that Bill Clinton was involved in predatory lending to be quite convincing and interesting. However, I do not follow her logic that because of Clinton’s hypocrisy one must support the Republican Party by default. Hypocrisy on the part of one’s opponents is not an argument in support of one’s own viewpoint. Coulter needs to realize that calling prominent liberals hypocrites, does not in any way give credit to conservative causes, it only accurately and justifiably in some instances exposes those claiming to oppose them.

Coulter seems to be losing her skills a bit. The media seems to focus so much on Coulter’s nasty and offensive quotes that this latest book seems to lack anything else. One almost thinks Coulter wrote the majority of the book, hoping to come up with offensive quotes that would anger even the mainstream media, and get her the “controversy” she longs for.

She has realized by now that such things translate to free advertising; being able to get nasty with Matt Lauer, and other pundits in the “liberal media” which give her a voice, and throw her soft-ball questions. It is interesting that the only time Coulter has been forced to explain whether she is a six-day creationist or not was on British Television, yet she claims the U.S. press is out to get her.

If Coulter continues to sound like a Neo-Conservative of the Bill O’rielly variety, she may become a museum piece in Rightist U.S. History. The right-wing propaganda industry is now much more interested in works like Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism or Glenn Beck’s Common Sense.

Though these books are equally and in some ways more deceptive, they focus on conservative principles and hope to address key historical and cultural questions that bear relevance to modern political debate, not modern political personalities and their character or lack thereof.

Coulter seems to be stuck in the Bush years, when Conservative punditry consisted simply of calling opposition to the status quo unpatriotic and cowardly. In the new age of capitalist economic depression, the right-wing is discovering the need to create the illusion of radicalism, as all working people, even the most right-wing, are filled with anger and a desire to “stir the pot.”

Bushist Neo-Conservativism and its “know nothing” “my country right or wrong” politics will not suffice to satisfy the urge to radical change that accompanies empty stomachs and mass evictions.


Anonymous said...

Warren Harding wasn't assassinated. The president you were thinking of was James Garfield, who was assassinated by Charles Guiteau. said...

It was Dan White, not Mike White who shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk...