by Timothy Lane
Ann Coulter is a lawyer by training, and it shows in her books, which can be considered prosecutor’s briefs against the excesses of modern leftism, which has pretty much subsumed what is still often called liberalism even though its adherents are about as illiberal as you can get. Although she doesn’t quite openly call for hatred of liberals and has used them as sources and even praised them (as she did John F. Kennedy, Jr. in an obituary – he had published her when many conservatives found her too controversial) — she specializes (as a lawyer should) in contrasting what liberals say and what they do without making it clear that not all liberals behave this way. She particularly targets the hate-filled, abusive way liberals attack conservatives for disagreeing with them.
There’s nothing new about this sort of Hate from avant-garde liberalism. In his 1973 book There Will Be Time, the science fiction writer Poul Anderson had a chapter called “With-It’s Collegiate Dictionary”, which provided a humorous example of how liberals actually use words (a technique I use today in my Newspeak dictionary pieces). For example, the definition of “Black” is: “Of whole or partial sub-Saharan African descent; from the skin color, which ranges from brown to ivory; Not to be confused with Brown, Red, White, or Yellow. This word replaces the former ‘Negro,’ which today is considered insulting since it means ‘black.’” His definition of “Conservative” is simply a long list of liberal synonyms for it, from “aggression” through “fascism” to “xenophobia”.
In this book, Coulter pays particular attention to the way liberals use (mostly false) claims of racism to suppress opposition. She starts with a basic summary of her point, which is that Democrats have always been racists (or at least race-baiters); the only difference is that in the mid-sixties they switched from anti-black to anti-white race-baiting. In the second chapter, she cites 5 instances where whites who got caught in altercations with blacks who proved to be lunatics or criminals were reflexively accused of racist attacks. In the next, she provides 4 examples of blacks who attacked whites and were reflexively defended by liberals, as well as a discussion of how one white killer (Robert Chambers) was presented as some sort of upper-class preppie type (a gross exaggeration, but one that fits liberal prejudices) and discusses the Howard Beach case. Her point there is that the white thugs seem to have been a gang that attacked a number of people, some of them black and some white, but liberals nevertheless presented it as a racist atrocity (ignoring the other attacks). One consequence of this coverage was a series of “payback” atrocities by blacks (a pattern we’ve seen more recently after George Zimmerman’s acquittal, which came too late to be discussed in the book).
After that she goes to many of the major “racism” hoaxes, starting with Tawana Brawley, and notes how after the hoaxes are exploded (as always happens eventually) they simply stop talking about them without ever admitting that they had been wrong (or apologizing to those they’ve slimed, as decent people would). I’ve noticed this pattern myself, and not just about racial issues, and I think the reason is that the Inner Party liberals know that the Outer Party routinely parrots the party line. So as long as they don’t actually admit that something was a hoax, many Outer Party types will continue believing it (I first noticed this regarding the Palm Beach butterfly ballots in 2000). It also allows them to continue behaving the same way, even though after a while they have to know what they’re doing. (Again, the recent revelations about the “racism” scandal at Oberlin are a perfect example of her thesis.)
Coulter provides a lengthy history of such claims. She points out, for example, how an LA TV station received an award for carefully editing the Rodney King tape to exclude King attacking the police (which is why they beat him up). The jury, by contrast, saw the whole tape, which is why they acquitted the officers. The result was a massive riot (exacerbated by the failure of the LA police to control, a valid criticism that nevertheless irritates Coulter because she considers it an attempt to excuse the thugs who rioted). She argues that the O. J. Simpson trial, and in particular the overjoyed, tribal way blacks cheered the outcome, finally destroyed the “racism” card among ordinary people by making them see where it had led. One additional aspect of the Simpson trial was the conviction of Mark Fuhrman for perjury when he denied have used the word “nigger” within the past 10 years. The evidence against him? ALMOST 10 years earlier, he had discussed a possible screenplay about a hard-boiled cop with a screenwriter, and naturally that word came up as something such a cop might say.
Liberals were slow to realize this, naturally, but in time they came to use “racism” comparisons mostly to support other causes, such as preventing conservative judge Charles Pickering from getting a major federal judicial appointment because he was a “racist” when their real concern was abortion rights. (Pickering in fact had a record of opposing the Klan during the 1960s, when it was still a dangerous force in Mississippi, and local blacks – including Charles Evers – supported him.) This reached its culmination in the Obama era, when every criticism (no matter how mild) can be called “racism”. Coulter presents a list of such charges, and it’s nowhere near complete because no one can possibly keep up with all of them (no mention of the Southwest Airlines incident, for example, or the Cincinnati school which was pressured into not putting on the great Agatha Christie play “Ten Little Indians”, and no discussion of “niggardly”).
She makes a superb case, and at the end she reminds us of the cost to society (and even more so various individuals) from all this race-baiting. People who are falsely accused of racist attacks (as in the Duke lacrosse team rape case) suffer real problems; so do those who are victimized by black thugs let go because liberals excuse their crimes. The conviction that society is racist and blacks have no hope helps encourage young ghetto blacks to become criminals, and there are numerous instances in which whites being acquitted of non-existent racial crimes leads to black reprisals (though one must always wonder how many of these thugs are merely using revenge as an excuse rather than a motive). And all of this (and the reaction of so many blacks to such things) increases racial tensions – which actually is just fine with liberals, since real racial tensions are even better for their political purpose (maximizing their votes among blacks) than fake ones. This is so even though many blacks don’t behave that way (Coulter lists many honorable examples, such as blacks who stood up to the rioters to rescue Reginald Denney and blacks who testify honestly rather than tribally about interracial incidents), and much of the race-baiting comes from elite white liberals such as Chris Matthews. (Coulter compares him to Captain Ahab, something I’ve dome myself; it may be that I was inspired by some such reference in a column of hers.)
The weakest chapter is Coulter’s coverage of the struggle for black civil rights. She’s certainly accurate in her discussion of the southern Democrats who stood for Jim Crow, and in pointing out Republican support for civil rights (which even most northern Democrats failed to support reliably until the 1960s). She also does a fine job of analyzing the slow progress of Republican growth in the South, and how little evidence there is linking it to racial issues.
However, she ignores the role of liberal organizations and some liberal political leaders (such as Hubert Humphrey, which is no doubt why the only primary he won in 1960 was in the District of Columbia); such people don’t exist in her world. She also is inaccurate in calling many southern Democrats liberal, which she often bases on issues such as opposition to Joe McCarthy (which owed at least as much to class and partisanship as to ideology) and Vietnam (which also became a very partisan issue after 1968). Harry Byrd, for example, was a noted scourge of high government spending; Robert Byrd once appeared in the YAF publication The New Guard identifying himself as a conservative (but this was around 1970, when that was still permissible in a Democrat leader). On the other hand, such Democrats as J. William Fulbright, Al Gore Sr., Orval Faubus, and Bull Connor (a pro-labor populist) were liberal or populist or progressive or whatever – nothing new there, either; Bryan’s 1896 Populist VP (Thomas Watson) later became a fiery race-baiter as a Democratic Senator from Georgia.
She also misses a bet in one case. She notes how Bo Calloway almost beat Lester Maddox in the 1966 Georgia governor’s race, but is a bit inaccurate. She refers to it as a disputed race, but actually what happened is that Calloway won a plurality but not a majority due to a liberal “Write In Georgia” effort on behalf of a third candidate (Ellis Arnall). This forced a run-off, which in 1966 was conducted by the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. I remember reading once (while researching something else, I don’t remember what) in a liberal magazine (I think it was The New Republic, but again I’m not sure) a discussion of this, including the idea that the WIG campaign inevitably led to the election of Maddox. (Georgia continued to require a majority, albeit with a run-off popular election instead, until the 1990s. No doubt the change resulted from the 1992 Senate election, in which incumbent Wyche Fowler led GOP challenger Paul Coverdell 49-48 but lost the run-off.)
This isn’t a perfect book, but it is a very good one with a lot of information that forms a nice correction to the routine liberal use of charges of “racism” as a smear word. In essence, racism (like fascism and many similar terms) is a real word with a real meaning – but is commonly used by liberals as an expression of Hate.
Mugged by Ann Coulter. Available at Amazon.com ($18.16 hardback, $12.09 paperback, $7.99 Kindle).