Monday, June 19, 2006

The Education System Is Not The Product Of Pure Logic

Despite only having one sentence in it, Ann Coulter’s new book is a NYT #1 bestseller. At least, that’s the impression I get from the MSM. So much of the coverage has concentrated on one particular line that it must be a shock to the system for some folks to see that there is actually a whole book wrapped round it.

It’s not as if the rest of the book is uncontroversial. Coulter’s central thesis is that Liberalism is itself a religion, complete with its very own priesthood, dogma and the like. As the lady herself says, here’s a book that claims Liberalism is a godless pseudo-religion that, amongst other crimes, has destroyed education, science and social order, and the Left’s only objection is that she’s rude about four Liberal activists ? Does that mean the accept the rest of the book’s charges ?

Of course, Coulter is hardly the first to note the similarities between Liberalism and religion. What’s she brings to the table is her famous turn of phrase and her, often overlooked, ability to marshal evidence. Obviously, the cases she covers are American, but the points she raises are universally applicable. Indeed, the sheer strangeness of modern Liberalism is such that large parts of it can only be sustained by faith. If nothing else, this book certainly casts an ironic light on those Liberals who claim to despise Christianity because its ‘irrational’.

As for the controversy, it has come about as a result of Coulter attacking a group of four New Jersey women who leveraged the loss of their husbands in the September 11 attacks into fame, fortune and careers as Democrat activists. Or as Ann Coulter put it ‘I’ve never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much’.

Needless to say, Liberals haven’t detected any hidden nuances or penumbras in that line. They’re more upset about this than they were about the original attacks. Which is sort of the point. What Coulter was writing about is the Left’s way of evading discussion of their insane policies by fronting up professional victims as mouthpieces. The four New Jersey women – or as Coulter calls them, the Witches of East Brunswick – were used by the Democrats to attack Bush, while Liberals denounced anybody who replied to them as a brutal thug attacking grieving widows. Or to put it another way, the Left’s response to the charge that they hide behind professional victims is to complain that Ann Coulter is being cruel to widows.

Of course, even some Conservatives will say that Coulter’s sheer obnoxiousness outweighs any possible point she may have. On the other hand, Coulter has exposed the Left’s reliance on professional victims in a way no one else has. Plenty of other Conservatives must have been disgusted by the way the Left employs people like Cindy Sheehan, Christopher Reeve and the like, but none were prepared to call Liberals on it. While Coulter’s Conservative critics can point to the odd one or two commentator that addressed this issue without stirring up this kind of controversy, that’s kind of the point. Sure, Joe Bloke may have produced a well-argued critique in some obscure periodical, but it took Coulter to drag out Liberal policy into the sunlight. If nothing else, she’s spared the world the sight of Democrats bringing out a baby kitten to explain their tax policy.

This, of course, is the essence of Coulter. The sometimes cringeworthy rhetoric coexists with an unparalled ability to cut to the heart of the matter. Maybe her inability to dissemble is just the flip-side of her talent for exposing the basic insanity of much modern Liberal thinking. Equally, the sulphuric rhetoric allows her to set the terms of the debate in a way that few other people on the Right can do. Liberals use professional victims as front men to avoid having to talk about what they actually believe and now everyone knows that.

Leaving aside the whining from people who’ve taken time out from claiming ‘Bush=Hitler’ to complain about Coulter’s insensitive language, there really are some flaws with this book. Strangely, Coulter only tangentially covers environmentalism. True, Gaia-worship may not – depending on your definition – count as actual Godlessness, but it is here that the religious nature of Liberalism is most apparent.

More profoundly, Coulter’s sees the battle as between Judeo-Christian tradition and Liberalism. That might be true in the main, but that’s not to say that atheists can’t hate Liberals too. There are plenty of non-metaphysical reasons to reject Liberalism. This attitude is particularly evident in those chapters dealing with Darwinism.

Yes, that’s a health warning right there. Let’s just say Coulter won’t be sending any fan mail to Richard Dawkins any time soon. But hang on a minute – I believe in Darwinism, and I think he’s a prat as well.Fortunatly, you don’t have to believe in creationism to get some value out of even this part of the book. Coulter does an excellent job rounding up some of the more outrageous examples of junk science, bad politics and outright intimidation used to push Darwinism. Never mind how you think humans got to be so human, the story of, say, the peppered moth experiment, or Haeckel’s evidence for recapitulation – both notorious frauds swallowed whole by the scientific community - should give you pause for thought.

Again, it’s not obvious why the apparent readiness of the scientific community to accept almost any nonsense providing it can be recruited to the cause of Darwinism should only be a problem for Christians. Yes, of course, opposition to religion is clearly the main motivating force behind this desire to swallow almost any old rubbish that can be interpreted to support Darwinism, but that doesn’t mean the non-religious should be any happier to see science perverted to suit the needs of activists in lab coats. If you can get over the heavy-handed attempts to push creationism, Coulter does expose much that is simply bad science. Certainly, having seen how the scientific community behaves when dealing with an ultra-controversial issue like evolution, you can’t help but wonder how they behave when they’re not under such scrutiny.

Overall, the book is kind of uneven, so while, say, environmentalism is dealt with only in passing, a whole chapter is devoted to Willie Horton. The device of trying to relate facets of Liberalism to aspects of religion sometimes seems a little contrived. Nevertheless, there is much that is new and interesting in this book, the humour is as good as ever and it all comes with that Coulteresque talent for making hamburger out of the Left’s sacred cows, as exemplified in this perfect eviseceration of Cindy Sheehan:

Call me old-fashioned, but a grief-stricken war mother shouldn’t have her own full-time PR flack. After your third profile on Entertainment Tonight, you’re no longer a grieving mom; you’re a C-list celebrity trolling for a book deal or a reality show. At that point, you’re no longer mourning, you’re ‘branding’.

No comments: