To borrow John Adams comment on the pamphlet Common Sense, “What a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass.” A conservative friend, knowing I am a Christian and a writer, suggested I read Ann Coulter’s latest book, Demonic. I appreciate the suggestion, because this is one beautiful piece of crapulous right-wing propaganda.
Coulter Quoting Scripture
Coulter starts out by quoting a Bible passage, the story of Jesus and the demon-possessed man of Gerasenes from the fifth chapter of Mark. To sum it up, Jesus landed on shore and commanded the demon to leave the man; then demanded its name, to which it replies, “My name is Legion, for we are many. “Legion,” Ms. Coulter informs us, means “many” and many means a mob.
Mobs are Demonic?
Making an impressive leap of thought Ms. Coulter reasons that “mob” means the mob of the French revolution, the Russian revolution, Maoist gangs looting and impaling babies, the KKK terrorizing Republican and blacks, the mob of the Los Angeles riots, the mob of the riots at 1968 Democratic convention, masked hoodlums smashing up Seattle when bankers came to town, throngs of Muslims at Khomeini’s funeral, and left-wing protesters at the Republican National Convention.
Demonizing Your Opponent
This deserves more than first place in the thought-leap contest. This deserves an Olympic gold medal. Granted that legion can mean many and many can mean a mob, the many in the Bible passage would mean a mob of demons, not revolutionaries or protesters, which are human beings. I’m quite certain she doesn’t mean to imply that humans beings, no matter how distasteful she finds them, are demons, because she clearly says that “demonization of opponents” is a characteristic of mob leaders, and you can’t demonize your opponents any more plainly than coming right out and calling your opponents demons.
I’m sure she doesn’t mean to create a false mental image of her opponents, either. In other words, she cannot mean that though she knows these are human beings, she wants the reader to form an image of them as demons. I know this because she says that relying on “propagandist images” is another characteristic of a mob leader.
Dead Baby Propaganda
The reference to Maoist gangs looting and impaling babies on bayonets certainly stirs the passions of any decent reader. A reader who is familiar with the history of propaganda, however, will have to wonder about it, because many war propaganda stories feature murdered babies. The story of babies being taken from incubators by Iraqi soldiers (false) and the British stories about Germans impaling Belgium babies on their pointy helmets (false) are good examples. But Ms. Coulter could not be lying to stir the passions of her readers, because according to Coulter, “stirring the passions” is a characteristic of a mob leader.
Each of the mobs Ms. Coulter lists had complex and compelling reasons for revolting or rioting, and she must have studied enough history to know that. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence “…experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” In other words, people do not rise up in revolt because they are bored, or mob-led by Democrats, but because they can no longer stand the abuses under which they have been suffering, often for many years.
Boston Tea Party
Admittedly, mob violence is not justified, and we must admire protesters who absorb the blows of the billy clubs without fighting back. Revolutions sometimes go bad-people get killed. Private property is often destroyed, like when the American colonists disguised themselves as Indians and threw the private property of British merchants into Boston Harbor. That mob, from the right-wing perspective, was a good mob; good enough to name a right-wing political movement after. It probably was not regarded as a good mob by the British merchants, however.
Ms. Coulter accuses the left of relying on slogans, repeated over and over, to stir up the mobs. Republicans, she assures us, have only used slogans four times throughout history. This might make Republican consultant, Frank Luntz, 2009 Liar of the Year, feel insecure. After all, he is hired specifically to come up with slogans for Republicans to repeat over and over. “Tax and spend,” “Obamacare,” “tax relief,” “death tax,” “death panels,” are all phrases Republican politicians can be counted on to trot out for every speech.
Republican Liar of the Year
Luntz, who runs focus groups to determine which slogans have the most emotional impact, won Liar of the Year for labeling the Health Care plan a “Government Takeover.” Slogans for 2011 include, You Decide, No Excuses, Imagine, You Deserve, Let’s Get to Work, and others and Luntz claims that if Republicans are communicating properly, you can count on hearing these phrases fall frequently from Republican lips.
Felons and Welfare Recipients
Democrats, according to Coulter consist of “soccer moms, actresses, felons, MSNBC viewers, aging Red-diaper babies, welfare recipients, heads-up-their asses billionaires and government workers-who can never be laid off.” This is a great illustration of the level of debate she has built her career on. Apparently she has never advanced beyond the name-calling found so frequently on elementary school playgrounds, where kids call each other “poopy pants.”
Coulter quotes from a book written in 1896 called The Crowd-a Study of the Popular Mind and claims that both Hitler and Mussolini used it. If you are so conservative that you are actually reactionary, 1896 is pretty current. Besides which, Hitler and Mussolini were fascists and fascists are not lefties. The crowd, according to the 1986 book, is transfixed by images (like American flags?) display extreme black and white thinking (like liberals are demons and conservatives are heroes?) and demonstrate a religious worship of their leaders (like the cult of Ronald Reagan?)
An author that accuses her opponents of doing things that she immediately, in full view of her readers, does-is either very stupid or very evil. I do not think Ann Coulter is stupid. To use the Bible to back up a pack of lies is disgusting and the devil, Jesus said, is a liar.