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Annie, Not Oakley

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So, yesterday somebody observed to me that it’s been a week since I wrote a blog post, and I suppose it’s true.

It’s the time of year when I’m finishing another Gregor, which means I’m distracted a lot.

It’s more than a lot distracting to put a corpse face down in the middle of a busy city street and then not know how or why you got him there.

I know there are terribly organized people who write murder mysteries by planning everything out ahead beforehand with timelines and maps, but I’m not one of them.

Whatever.

It’s also spring break at my place, so I have a week without too much craziness in it, so I’ve got time.

Sort of.

Anyway, the last nor’easter of the year came and went without too much inconvenience where I live.  There is supposed to have been two feet of snow up in the northwest corner of the state, but we got nothing much more than a thick dusting and then temperatures high enough to melt it all before the end of the day.

I am not complaining.

What I did during the snow, after I’d done actual work, was to read Ann Coulter’s Mugged, and I’ll start there.

First, I’ve got to say that I have a volatile relationship with Ann Coulter’s books, and it’s not entirely my fault.

Yes, the woman is tendentious practically as a vocation, but she’s not the only one, and she’s at least honest about it.

Most of the time when people claim Coulter is “lying,” what she’s actually doing is one of three things:  a) expressing an opinion that infuriates them or b) saying something true that nobody wants to think about or c) engaging in humor.

That last thing endlessly fascinates me.  I can’t figure out if the people who go ballistic about Coulter’s sarcasm really can’t recognize sarcasm when they see it, or if they’re engaged in a deliberate attempt to use any excuse at all to engage in an orgy of moral self righteousness.

Okay, given the people involved, that might be a trick question.

But Annie is Annie, and I know what I’m going to get going in, so these things aren’t what bother me.

What does bother me is that the quality of research is incredibly uneven from book to book. 

The book on Joseph McCarthy was incredibly well researched.  I spent four or five days on the Internet trying to check out various claims, and Coulter always came up accurate.

Even in places where I uncovered critics claiming that one statement or another was inaccurate, further digging always proved Coulter’s version right. 

Godless, on the other hand, was just a mess. 

What’s worse, it was a mess on subjects about which I had first hand knowledge.

What that book did was to take the activities of a very small group of people and blow them up as if they were majority activities and opinions.

And yes, I know that’s what progressives do with the Tea Party, but I don’t like it there, either, and I don’t see why I should have to put up with it at all.

All that said–Mugged is definitely one of Coulter’s best researched books, and it is also one of her more interesting  ones.

It is first a book about racial politics, and it’s a good one.

We talk a lot about how we should have an “honest discussion about race,” but what we mostly mean when we say that is that we should have a discussion about race couched in academic platitudes and social science jargon.

This book is an honest discussion about race, and especially about American racial politics.

Of course, it’s not the honest discussion about race that the people calling for the honest discussion about race want to have, but those people are still putting out academic platitudes and social science jargon, and we can’t blame Annie for that.

For what it’s worth, I did spend a couple of days checking out various claims (who did what during the Civil Rights era, who supported segregation andwho supported integration, the pattern of wins and losses in the Southern states after the Goldwater election (important verifying or debunking the existence of a “southern strategy)) and all the ones I did check out were solid.

What’s more important to me is that the book says things, out loud, that most people will not say, even though it’s obvious from their behavior that they think them.

Of course, this is Coulter, so the book spends way too much time calling people insane and doing other things whose entire purpose seems to be to get people frothing at the mouth and indignantly declaring how offensive she is. 

By now you’d think the frothers would have figured out that Coulter doesn’t care and that all they do with the frothing is give her a chance to laugh all the way to the bank.

But frothers–and there are frothers on both sides–never do seem to be able to figure that out.

That said, if you can get past the rhetoric, there are some truly valuable things in this book, including references to the studies that track what affirmative action actually does in contrast to what it says it does–and they’re social science studies, so I treat them with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, the fact that I had to go to a book by Ann Coulter to find them is very interesting.

All that being said, I would not recommend this book to everyone.

I think its ideas and its research would be valuable for everyone to know, but I also understand that Coulter’s style–aggressive, antagonistic and abrasive on purpose–upsets a lot of people just as a style. 

And people  upset with the style hear nothing but the style.

If you can handle the style, there’s a lot here to learn.

If you can’t, we’ll just have to wait  until someone comes along with a book with the same thesis and similar research meant for a wider audience.

That sounds like I want Coulter to stop writing the way she writes, but I don’t.

Our commitment to free speech is measured by how we respond to the speech we hate, not the speech we love.

Coulter long ago became the standard by which I measure the authenticity or hypocrisy of various people’s claims to be in favor of free expression.

If you think the proper response to Annie is to find some way, any way, to shut her up–

Well, you might consider the possibility that you’re not on the side you say you are.

I need to go off and do something sensible.

Written by janeh

March 11th, 2013 at 10:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses to 'Annie, Not Oakley'

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  1. Well, if she’s consistent on her research within a book, that’s something. Being properly-researched some of the time is like being a dud munition: it might not blow up in your face, but do you really want to take the chance? The GODLESS problem doesn’t sound as though it were what I’d call a research problem, though. Selective reporting is unscrupulous, but it’s not the same thing as citing a non-existent archive or excising a critical part of a quote.

    As for the famous “national diatribe”–oops! “dialogue”–on race, it’s not going to happen. What the Powers that Be want is a monologue on race in which everyone is impressed by their wisdom while we’re fed the same lies. It’s about 40+ years too late for that. And anyone else knows he’ll be called a racist, so why bother?

    Does anyone remember that black Freshman Senator from Illinois who said by the time his daughters applied to universities, they should NOT be the beneficiaries of “affirmative action”? How it should be used instead to open up opportunities to the poor? When he proposes legislation to that effect, THEN we will have the famous “dialogue.”

    I must have missed that in the SOTU speech.

    robert_piepenbrink

    11 Mar 13 at 5:02 pm

  2. I am ahead of the game for once. I read “Mugged” several months ago, having long been anxious to find one of Coulter’s books to see just what is was about this, to me down here in Australia, mysterious character that so many American liberals seemed to love to hate. I’d never heard of her until I saw Americans in one or another Usenet group, predominantly liberals, raging against something or other that she was alleged to have said or written.

    Obviously I didn’t have the background to judge the truth or otherwise of her arguments, but prima facie they made sense. I’ll now go and reread it in the light of Jane’s review.

    Mique

    11 Mar 13 at 8:17 pm

  3. Put me down as someone who can’t stand her style, based on leafing through one of her earlier books in the library and deciding life is to short to read that kind of thing.

    She may have good and well-researched ideas, but I doubt I’ll get around to reading them.

    Cheryl

    12 Mar 13 at 5:49 am

  4. Since I don’t like anyone , male or female , who express their ideas in such an aggressive manner as Coulter, I am automatically turned off by their rhetoric. Everyone has a right to express an opinion but I have the right not to listen :)
    I tried several times to listen objectively to her when she has been interviewd by Piers Morgan or Anderson Cooper but …maybe I should try reading her written words. She’s a strange lady.
    By the way , I will have a right lung resection next Thursday ..small tumor will be removed and various scans has shown that cancer originated in my lung and has not spread .. was caught early ! I am sooooo lucky ! Especially after having smoked for 46 years !
    I’ll continue to read Jane’s blog and have already packed two of her books to reread while in the hospital ( 7-10 days ). Gregor always keeps my mind occupied :)

    texaspurl

    12 Mar 13 at 11:40 am

  5. What good news, texaspurl! I hope your operation goes well.

    Cheryl

    12 Mar 13 at 5:05 pm

  6. What Cheryl said, texaspurl. All the best.

    Mique

    12 Mar 13 at 7:04 pm

  7. The concept of surgery as good news confuses me. But catching it early before it has spread is certainly good news. I hope the operation goes well and recovery is smooth.

    jd

    12 Mar 13 at 7:41 pm

  8. Apropos, this today from Thomas Sowell, may his tribe increase:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2013/03/12/intellectuals-and-race-n1531068

    Mique

    12 Mar 13 at 9:59 pm

  9. For anyone interested, here’s part 2 of Sowell’s article on intellectuals and race.

    http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2013/03/13/intellectuals-and-race-part-ii-n1531114

    Mique

    13 Mar 13 at 11:06 pm

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