Mugged – Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, by Ann Coulter (Sentinel HC, 2012, 236 pages)
Coulter is loudly excoriated by some on the “left,” and sometimes physically attacked by them, because of her acerbic wit and sarcastic approach to political issues. “Sarcastic” is a good word in her case, because it stems from the Greek, “sarx,” which means “flesh;” her sarcasm can draw blood. But she can also make you laugh at times, in spite of yourself, as she is the master of the reductio ad absurdum.
But … and this is a big but … there is always some truth to what she says which is why it is dangerous to write her off as a fanatic. In her latest book, she deals with a subject that most people don’t want to talk about: racial attitudes in the United States. She cites disturbing and high profile examples of how people were called racist since the 70s when, in fact, there was no racism involved. Liberals–couldn’t let go of the opportunity to create a society of victims and victimizers, but the OJ verdict changed all that. After that, Coulter claims, white guilt was expiated: a black murderer of two white people was acquitted, just as once they would have been found gulity by an all-white jury in states like Mississippi. Who was the villain in the OJ case? Mark Fuhrman–a Los Angeles detective who lied about using the “N” word in his past. A sacrificial red herring appeared in time to save the day, and OJ walked.
After white guilt couldn’t be played any longer, Coulter says, liberals hijacked the Civil Rights Act for any and all of their pet projects, from gay marriage, the right to a partial birth abortion, or to free birth control pills. Call it a “right,” and you don’t have to argue any further, and those who oppose you are rights-opposing-bigots (formerly, racists).
Love her or hate her, it’s not wise to ignore Coulter. She is probably the nearest thing we have to a “gadfly;” and Socrates, if he were alive, might tell you that gadflies are important for a well-thought-out society–but are also an endangered species. If you’re on the other side (or “far side”–as she is) of the aisle, you need to understand her arguments instead of simply shouting her down. If you’re on her (far) side of the aisle, you will be nodding in agreement throughout. If, like me, you bridge the gap between the two, you will read her cautiously. But you will take to heart the underlying theme of her book: there are those who, since the 1960s, have been working to bring about major changes in the way we think and behave as a nation–often with the best of intentions but frequently with adverse consequences. Maybe, maybe not. But if so, it is more important than ever that we never stop thinking for ourselves.
Mugged is a very disturbing and sometimes ugly book to read. There is truth here, as well as conclusions jumped to too hastily. But it is the truth in here that frightens me, and makes me more aware than ever that the times may have changed some for the better, but the undertow of hatred still threatens to pull us under and into a place I don’t want to be.
Copyright Isaac Morris 2012