book reviews

Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right
Ann Coulter
Crown Publishers, 2002, 256 pages
Reviewed by: T.J. Nelson

M ost thinking people in this country have found one thing or another over the years to criticize about the left. Ann Coulter, a constitutional lawyer turned political commentator, has found all of them, and goes through them one by one with her chainsaw-like devastating wit. Virtual liberal blood sprays everywhere in this book, which is filled with the witty, sarcastic prose that led Washington Post columnist Lloyd Grove to call her “a human Uzi.” Even National Review found Ann Coulter too hot to handle and dropped her column after she made a comment about requiring passports for domestic flights to protect against “suspicious-looking swarthy males,” and opined in a column eulogizing Barbara Olson that we should “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

One of Coulter's first victims is Gloria Steinhem, the misandric feminist who is most famous for her moronic, Dadaesque statement, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” and whose main accomplishment in life has been to ensure that much of a generation of American women will never contribute to the gene pool. Coulter contrasts Gloria Steinhem with Phyllis Schlafly, who was ridiculed mercilessly by the leftist media for her old-fashioned views on the role of women, and forever earned liberals' wrath for leading the crusade to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment. Coulter reminds us that, unlike Steinhem, Phyllis Schlafly is intellectually brilliant, having written several influential books on military policy; one such book led to Barry Goldwater's nomination.

However, feminists are just girls, after all, and so they aren't so good with math. Coulter recounts how feminist author Naomi Wolf, in her book The Beauty Myth, claimed that 150,000 women die each year from anorexia -- 3.75 times the number of people that die in auto accidents. The true figure was closer to 100. How on earth, Coulter rhetorically asks, did this and so many other mistakes in books supporting liberal causes ever, ever, ever get past the editors? The Nobel Prize-winning account of Rigoberta Menchu's supposed torment at the hands of the Reagan-supported Guatemalan government, for example, resulted in its author receiving no less than 14 honorary doctoral degrees, but the book continued to be defended even after it was later shown to be completely fictitious.

Liberal American commentators, writes Coulter, no longer discuss actual ideas, but instead their arguments have degenerated into childish name-calling, with the left prolifically coining new terms and redefining old words to turn them into weapons of mass media destruction. Although Coulter doesn't use this example, the archetype of this tactic is their phenomenal success in turning the 'N' word from a quaint Southern slang term into grounds for justifiable homicide. Until about 1960, the `N' word had no pejorative connotations other than labeling the speaker as a likely mint julep-drinking speaker of the Coastal Southern dialect whose biggest crime was to have a tendency to chew on long pieces of Bermuda grass. Liberals have, of course, conveniently forgotten this, and routinely trot out old newsreels of conservative pre-1960 rural Southerners innocently using the 'N' word or its variants as evidence of virulent, hateful racism.

Despite the shameless, racially-divisive attacks by the liberal media on giants such as Clarence Thomas, and their advocacy of a form of racial discrimination known as “affirmative action”, the conflation of the terms 'racist' and 'right-winger' by the liberal establishment is such an effective strategy that nowadays, every anti-government extremist and anti-Waco wacko automatically becomes a “white supremacist”. One slip of the tongue, and Jerry Falwell or Rush Limbaugh would also be so characterized. Fellow liberals like Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle, in contrast, have little to fear. Neither did liberal Senator Bob Packwood, who fondled more female employees than even Bill Clinton—until, as Coulter points out, Packwood became dispensable after Clinton's victory. Suddenly Packwood mutated from “a jut-jawed iconoclast” into a “clueless Neanderthal” and was hounded out of office by his former comrades in the media.

Ann Coulter's buzz saw next takes on the media's abysmal handling of the 2000 Bush election. She blames premature predictions of Gore's victory by TV news networks for creating the election crisis and describes how the media used Fox's 2 AM announcement of Bush's victory as a nucleus of condensation and snowballed it into an avalanche of lies. Horrified by the defeat of their icon Al Gore, and determined to prove their total lack of bias in the election, the news media continued to sift frantically through the ballots themselves for an entire year, looking for lost Gore chads. Coulter rightfully blasts CNN and Dan Rather for their Democratically biased reporting of the recount; but she ignores the Republican bias of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who revealed her lack of objectivity in the jubilant enthusiasm with which she announced the Bush victory.

Unfortunately, liberals have not been able to repeat their early success with the 'N' word, but their liberal (so to speak) use of sharp cattle prods like 'racist', 'fascist', 'homophobe', 'ugly' (à la Linda Tripp), and `bigot' to herd the masses into acquiescence with intimidation instead of participating in an honest exchange of ideas has become the trademark of the “blabocracy”. But their favorite one is “stupid”. All Republican presidents since Calvin Coolidge, says Ann Coulter, have been characterized as “dumb.”

Coulter periodically takes little jabs at Katie Couric of NBC's Today show throughout the book, dropping a bombshell on page 181 where she calls her “the affable Eva Braun of morning TV.” Perhaps this was the reason when Coulter appeared on the show to promote her book, the interview nearly ended in a catfight.

But in contrast to the relatively mild jabs against the beloved but hopelessly biased morning show host, pink spray splatters everywhere when Coulter takes on Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and her incessant sniping about George W. Bush's IQ, and Robert McNamara, whom Coulter calls the engineer of America's defeat in Vietnam. She compares the media's continual proclamations of impending doom caused by the “religious right” and its periodic claims of victory over it to the endless, phony war in Orwell's 1984.

The book is not perfect. She misspells al-Qaeda. Her logic is sometimes shaky; and she offers little in the way of analysis of why liberals are the way they are, or why her conservative viewpoint is better. There is a reason why liberals make personal attacks instead of discussing issues -- it's related to the reason they became liberals in the first place. Ann Coulter doesn't discuss this. Her chainsaw also missed the obnoxious and Chamberlainist “blame America first” and “Quagmire!” crowd that sprung up after 9/11. But for the most part her instinct for the jugular never misses. Ann “No Prisoners” Coulter has the cojones to say out loud what conservatives are thinking about the liberal bias in the media but are too polite to say in mixed company. Conservatives can take solace in the fact that liberals' rhetoric becomes more strident the further they are from the mainstream, when they sense the need to talk louder because no one is listening. Hopefully conservatives won't make the same mistake.

June 30, 2002