…by Ann Coulter.
My commentary/review, written in several parts over time. It’s a work in progress I want to share with you now. I’ll add a note here when I’ve finished reading and commenting.
(NOTE: I’M FINISHED NOW! 6/27/11.)
[MINIMAL SPOILER ALERT. Details WILL be discussed briefly, but this is non-fiction. It’s not like I’ll be giving away the plot.]
Mon 13 Jun 2011:
Should I start a prequel review? Perhaps a chapter by chapter review. That would be ambitious. I haven’t started reading the book yet, but I will tonight. I borrowed a shiny new copy from my local library today (I was waitlisted), newly received by them. The book was just released 7 June and today is the 13th. Since I have a library copy I can’t annotate it, but I could write comments in this blog draft as I proceed.
The backcover says it’s about mobs. I hope Ms. Coulter hasn’t overdone this mob thing. I mean, so what else is new? I think she is brilliant, but she can go off on a tangent.
The cover, as you can see, is bright red letters on black. (Demonic!) The cover spine is bright red with black letters. (Demonic!)
Reading the Table of Contents I see references to the French Revolution, no picnic truth be told. I’m sure Ann will tell us the WHOLE truth. Looking in the back, and setting my page marker for the footnote section, I see LOTS of footnotes. She has a penchant for being thorough. Nothing like a few (hundreds of) facts.
Let the reading begin.
Tue. 14 Jun 2011:
“…liberals thrive on jargon as a substitute for thought. According to Le Bon, the more dramatic and devoid of logic a chant is, the better it works to rile up a mob: “Given to exaggeration in its feelings, a crowd is only impressed by excessive sentiments. An orator wishing to move a crowd must make an abusive use of violent affirmations. To exaggerate, to affirm, to resort to repetitions, and never to attempt to prove anything by reasoning are methods of argument well known to speakers at public meetings.”” (p. 7.)
“There are three main elements to putting an idea in a crowd: affirmation, repetition, and contagion.” (Coulter, p. 8.)
Chapter 2. About liberal mobs creating messiahs. A lengthy litany of iconized Democrats and Liberally loathed Republicans. A long litany, but well footnoted.
Thu. 16 Jun 2011:
Chapter 3. Cute title: “Contradictions: You can lead a mob to water, but you can’t make it think.” (p. 35) Cute quote summarizing the chapter: “”Liberal” is the definition of people who can’t grasp if/then forms of logic.” (p. 36.) I’ve already used the term lengthy litany. This chapter continues the theme, as I suspect the entire book will.
This is not unlike her book (2009) Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America on which I’ve commented in Reading Ann Coulter. Liberals of all persuasions (media, politicians, de-vo-tees) support liberal issues with a fervent emotional fanaticism, logic be damned (or so we conservatives assert, backed up only by mere facts). They oppose conservative issues with the same feverish illogic. As Coulter thoroughly chronicles, this list of support and opposition is longer than your arm, or longer than a link of arms around the world at the equator.
I suspect/know she is preaching to the proverbial choir. Since liberals don’t apply logic (just look at today’s “we can’t cut Social Security or Medicare even if we have no money to pay for it, you’ll hurt people!”) she is unlikely to win any converts. One can always “hope” for “change” I suppose. 🙂
I can see this chapter-by-chapter commentary is weak. Enough of that. I’ll summarize my impressions when I finish reading, save for cogent quotes that may be inserted along the way.
Mon. 20 Jun 2011:
I’m having trouble reading this book. As noted, the litany and list of group-mob think goes on and on and on. Barely a sentence separates one example that has been going for several pages from the next example. Usually a new paragraph is started, but not even a line space from the last one. No pause, no dots or short line indicating a shift. Perhaps the book should be titled “Breathless: Ann Coulter’s Valhallian Assault on Liberal Bias”.
I’m seriously thinking of giving up reading the rest of the book, something I rarely ever do. I will be greatly disappointed in myself and Ms. Coulter, as I generally admire her intelligent conservative insights. I’m about to start “Part II: The Historical Context of the Liberal”, in which I believe she compares current Liberal mob-ism to the mobs of the French Revolution. As I like history I will read further to see if it renews my interest. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Wed. 22 Jun 2011:
Ah, that’s better. HISTORY. Unashamedly bloody, mob-violent, disgusting, history. French Revolution style. Then a cogent (adjective(of an argument or case) clear, logical, and convincing) comparison to the much more reasoned and cerebral development of the Constitution and these United States. This is good. She should do this more often.
Fri. 24 Jun 2011:
The quotes by Le Bon and others are priceless. IMO they are mostly aphorisms, “a pithy observation that contains a general truth”. Even Eric Hoffer’s THE TRUE BELIEVER, another gem about crowd behavior which surprisingly Coulter does not quote, should be taken with a grain of salt.
For example, quoting Edmund Burke, 18th Century author of Reflections on the Revolution in France: “On the eve of the French Revolution, Burke cautioned that “criminal means, once tolerated, are soon preferred.” He said the moment one capitulates to the idea that mayhem and murder are justified for the greater good, the greater good is forgotten and mayhem and murder become ends in themselves, until only violence can “satiate their insatiable appetites.”” (P. 172.)
I’m confident now that I will finish this book. It has engaged me again.
(Ah, another gem quote to get the blood flowing: “Liberals possess in abundance all the characteristics of mobs identified by Le Bon: “impulsiveness, irritability, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgment and of the critical spirit, the exaggeration of the sentiments, and others besides–which are almost always observed in beings belonging to inferior forms of evolution–in women, savages, and children, for instance.”” (P. 205.)
Coulter drops 2 or 3 of Le Bon’s references to women as weaker, lesser beings, purely for her own devilishly humorous attempt to incite, I suspect. Presumably it is Le Bon’s excusable expression of 19th Century attitudes.
Sun. 26 Jun 2011:
Cogent thoughts by Coulter in Chapter 15, summarizing the book’s theme:
“Democrats are heirs to the French Revolution, the uprising of a mob, Conservatives are heirs to the American Revolution and the harmonious order of a republic.” (P. 264.)
“It’s striking how uniform the playbook. is. Totalitarians use mobs to seize power, impose their theories on the populace for the good of humanity, and then set about exterminating a lot of that humanity. Each new set of reformers never notices that the last mob claiming to be fight for “the people” ended up killing the people.” (P. 271.)
Mon. 27 Jun 2011:
Ahhhhh. Finished it. “Oh what a relief it is.” (Alka Seltzer?) I don’t have indigestion, but I do need to come up for air. Perhaps oxygen and E.R. paddles would be more appropriate. Politics is muck. Wallowing in it tends to make one feel unclean. Has it always been that way? I suspect so. It’s nasty business and it doesn’t serve us well.
Coulter certainly makes the case against Liberals, Liberalism, and Mobs. Footnoted to the nth degree. (A few quotes were not footnoted. Shame, shame.) Her use of Le Bon’s aphoristic 19th century book THE CROWD seems a weak thread for tying the mob’s of the French Revolution to Liberal Mobs of today. She might have been as well or better off using previously noted Eric Hoffer’s THE TRUE BELIEVER.
The whole “mob” theme seems as much an excuse for her (near?)-rant and rail against the vitriol and vehemence of modern-day Liberalism. As with her book GUILTY, the lengthy examples make a great database of Liberal invective toward Conservatives. Outline or spreadsheet form would have sufficed for me, but then what would she have had to talk about?
I’m afraid I’m soured on reading “current events” books. Authors seem to churn them out like ground beef through an old hand-powered meat grinder. If you don’t read them right away they’re out of date and no longer current in a few months. I know Liberal insanity when I see it. I read it in the news every day. I won’t be seeking the latest tome of the moment to remind me. The only books on somewhat “current situations”, let’s say, that I’ve read and felt informed by, and still recommend as worthwhile reading, are THE LOOMING TOWER by Lawrence Wright, a history of Islamic terrorism from the late 40’s to 9/11, STATE OF EMERGENCY by Pat Buchanan (yes, Pat Buchanan of all people!), AMERICA ALONE by Mark Steyn, and LIBERAL FASCISM by Jonah Goldberg.
Ms. Coulter will have to get along without me from now on. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars for what appears to be thorough fact-gathering and footnoting. Otherwise, I do not recommend it.