A Review of Ann Coulter’s Slander!

  by Sarah Augusto

The 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.

 

Coulter 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.

 

Perhaps 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.

 

Coulter 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.

 

Another 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.

 

Coulter 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.

 

Another 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.

 

While 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.

 

 

Sarah Augusto was a PRA intern during the summer of 2002.

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