Monday, March 05, 2007

She Won Again

[posted by Callimachus]

I give up. Just when I think going to my job is going to be a nice change from changing shitty diapers, I remember my job is full of shitty diapers, too.

Nobody here seems to be able to shut up about Ann Coulter. Anecdotal evidence, if any was necessary, to bolster the statistical argument that Coulter is more than twice as interesting to the left than to the right.

Which is exactly how she likes it. And if that ever stops happening, she pops up somewhere and says something to restore the balance. She's a political Barnum and every time you write about here you're that thing that Barnum said was born every minute.

Since we are told by very serious people on the Left that the Iraq War "was launched partly to deflect attention from mounting corporate scandals," I am sure some leftsider out there has written in the past two days or so that Ann Coulter's outburst was meant to deflect the attention of the progressives and the media long enough for Bushitler to sneak some Ermächtigungsgesetz on us that no one will notice till next year's "U.S. Constitution" pamphlets are printed.

Just like many sane Democrats have written thoughtful and extensive renunciations of Michael Moore, so, too, many thoughtful and humane conservatives are taking the time -- again -- to repudiate Ann Coulter.

As in both cases, these are a mixture of "you're hurting our cause" and "you are not truly on our side; you only serve yourself" and "you've said some really indecent and inexcusable things." Of course, the left reads those and says "a-ha; #3 is just a fig leaf for #1, the real reason." Which means it can continue to believe its enemies don't have any sense of decency except in self-interest. And which allows it to continue to believe ANN COULTER REPRESENTS ALL CONSERVATIVES/NEO-CONS/REPUBLICANS/CHRISTIANS ... whatever we're supposed to hate today. Don't believe me? Follow the Memeorandum links to the story.

I am tired of comparisons of Coulter and Bill Maher or that Pandagon woman that devolve into "but what X said was worse than what Y said ...." All of them exploit the methodology of political discourse, and its allowances for saying provocative things, to take sadistic jabs at whole classes of people, knowing that they'll infuriate at least a few of the people they live to despise. The rest of it is collateral damage.

As one of the commenters at Gay Patriot put it:

People of sound heart and sound mind understand that our society is not better off when we assume that all people we disagree with believe the same thing and are unreasonable. It’s fair to criticize conservatives who defend Ann Coulter (and especially those who cheer the offensive things she says), but when you second guess the sincerity of conservatives who lambast[e] Ann Coulter without offering evidence of that insincerity, you make you[r]self sound stupid.

So I wasn't going to give her any more ink, but since I'm swimming in Ann Coulter today, thanks to my newsroom peers, it's going to be hard to get through anything without seeing her image in it.

Such as Mark Steyn, reviewing "The Life of Kingsley Amis" by Zachary Leader. I came across this description of the great fiction writer.

Among many shrewd asides sprinkled through The Life of Kingsley Amis, his second wife, Elizabeth Jane Howard, offers Zachary Leader the sharp observation that he didn’t enjoy politics so much as “the company of male political journalists.” ... [A]nd over the years, lacking any interest in political philosophy or public policy, Amis seemed to conclude that the easiest way to be “conservative” was to embrace a reactionary saloon-bar persona and dispense the usual dreary provocations about “nignogs” and Jews.

Substitute the American equivalents for the British chiches, and don't you have Miss Ann herself? That she is on the right, not the left, is immaterial. Probably the field on the left already was too crowded. Politics, not as a means to good governance or effecting power over one's environment, but as a pre-set stage for pissing off people. If that's your thing. And often it is.

Which is not to say I want her -- or her left side equivalents -- silenced, or shunned, or put out of the national discourse. I think the best defense of her I've seen is at Wizbang. People who deliberately outrage can give you the occasional insight. Some things can't be expressed any other way. Wizbang zeroes in on one of her supposed outrages. Writing in her post-9/11 column about the Islamist terrorists: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

At the time, this was held up as American hate-speech by her enemies, and excused by her friends as an over-reaction in grief over the death of a close friend, Barbara Olson, who was aboard the plane that was steered into the Pentagon. But I thought it was a stunningly brilliant clip on the heels, for the same reason Wizbang mentions: "because that's pretty much a mirror image of the Islamist agenda."

It takes what "they" repeatedly say they will do to "us" and inverts it. It forces you to think whether you really want to do that or not. And whether that might be the way fighting fire with fire would look. And whether you even can go to war with such an enemy without being willing to think in those terms. And if not, what are the alternatives?