A Larger Piece

A week ago I attempted to distill my thoughts on Ann Coulter's new book Demonic. I thought it would be easy, I mean, who doesn't love a good smack down of the opposition, especially when the writing is engaging, the thesis presents 'the enemy' in a unique perspective and the arguments are made with such passion and snark? But there is a part of me that shies away from confrontation, that makes me look at it from the opposition's view and think, "Now THAT, is over the top." It was difficult because as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn't recommend it to people who might be trying to undertand conservatism. I felt that most people, the center-right that don't admit to their conservative bent, would not be able to get past the broad generalization of the liberal 'mob' while moderates and liberals would just dismiss it as a bitchy Coulter rant.

That same evening some liberal acquaintances felt that a piece on the huffingandpuffington post was so definitively insightful that they had to share it. It was titled The Republican Spectrum of Ignorance. It was, of course, a poorly written and barely intelligible lefty diatribe on the stupidity of Republicans. I can say 'of course' based on the source alone. There was no allowance for any even potentially 'smart' Repbulicans; all conservatives, according to this author, are stupid. Reading it made me want to shout, "Amen, Sister Ann!" and just like that Demonic seemed more about truth than confrontation.

I never posted what I wrote about Demonic ... it never came together. This evening, however, a headline on Hot Air  caught my eye. It said "Video: Oddly enough, David Brooks not a fan of Ann Coulter." It worked. I just had to watch. It was linked to a Daily Caller article. Here's what David had to say about Ann [caution: personally created transcript - expect some typing lapses/shortcuts].

I'm not a huge fan of Ann Coulter. You can be more conservative than me and be perfectly respectable like Ron Paul and Marco Rubio, but Coulter, she's just a showperson. And I knew her back when she was a very 20-something recent graduate of Cornell, and I will say this for her, she's not faking it, that's who she really is, she was like that when she was twenty-four. But you know, one of the things you have to believe in politics is that people that disagree with you are at least as good as you are, they have at least, maybe not as large a piece of the truth as you do, but they have a large piece of the truth. The world is complicated. Yeah, I mean, the idea is if you're writing books with names like Traitor, whatever they are, and Libel, whatever they are called, you're basically assumming that people who disagree with you are morally inferior, illegitimate, and, you know, I face enough of that from the left. We live in a polarized world and the things that Ann Coulter does has a pernicious effect on that. 

Here's my paraphrase ...

I don't like Ann. She's more conservative than me, but I can't respect her. I will demean her by calling it all a show, but then temper that by saying she's sincere. But I don't want to be too complimentary so let me point out that it's an immature sincerity and she needs to grow up. If you don't believe like me, if , for instance, you don't believe that there is foundational truth in the liberal agenda, then you are too simple to understand the complexity of this world. There is no right and wrong, it's all relative, we can all be right on the same issue to some degree. If you point out where people are wrong, you're being too judgemental. Ann creates a lot of nasty disagreeableness and why can't we all just get along? Love means never having to say you're sorry.

... or some such sappy sentiment.

In the same interview he proclaims he has a soft spot for 'working class' plagarist Vice-President Joe Biden. The soft spot, apparently, resides in his pre-frontal lobe so I should probably cut him some slack. The point he makes about who owns the "larger piece" of truth is quite telling, and it helped me to resolve my difficulties with Coulter's book.

Enlightened, moderate, independent people no doubt embrace Brooks' view. They believe that the other side is "as good" and is operating from some morally defensible 'large piece' of truth. The idea that everyone's viewpoint is valid means that you really never have to take a stand, you really never have to have the grown-up discussion about right and wrong. There is comfort in wishy-washy committment. You are not accountable for an opinion, you avoid confrontation and no matter how things turn out you have the flexibility to 'go with the flow' and avoid all sorts of unpleasantness. The beauty of being a moderate is you can, in essence, always be right because you can support anything and are against everything.

And then there is the quintessential give up of 'it's complicated.' This is used to describe everything from facebook relationships to abortion. We all know it's an excuse. Human interaction, right and wrong, what works and what doesn't ... none of that is complicated except by our own inability to recognize and admit the facts. You want to have a relationship with someone, but you don't want to commit to them. It's not 'complicated', it's selfish. For abortion, do you or do you not want to terminate a life? Your reasons for saying yes may be unusual or unexplainable or unbearable, but it's not complicated. You do not say yes or no to that type of question without knowing, in your heart, what is right and what is wrong about the answer you give.

Brooks also mentions 'the left' and how they consider him morally inferior and illegitmate. My question is then why would he consider them to own 'a large piece' of the truth? Does he not have any confidence in his position? I have never, in any discussion with a liberal/progressive/statist/Democrat, heard the left acknowledge that I own ANY piece of the truth. I'm always the rube, the uninformed, the closed-minded, the heartless, the gullible, the easily-led, the unthinking, the stupid. They consistently treat me like this and yet, for some reason, Brooks thinks I must concede 'a large piece' of truth to them. Why? If the concession is only one way (when do liberals concede to conservative policy?) aren't we, as conservatives, admitting we are wrong? Do we or do we not believe in our stated principles?

A week ago I struggled with what to make of Coulter's book. I felt it would alienate moderates and antagonize liberals. Today, after being called stupid by 'friends', after realizing the inherent relativity of moderate independence and after recognizing that the opposition concedes no part of truth I can unequivocally say, Ann Coulter is doing the right thing. She concedes no piece of the truth to the opposition. She confidently declares there is a right and a wrong without excusing her positions by saying 'it's complicated.' She stakes out a strong position and challenges the mob not with superficial name-calling but with specific and direct attacks against their philosophical and intelluctual heritage. David Brooks believes he is morally superior to Ann Coulter and that is why he does not grant her any piece of the truth. What Brooks does not acknowledge is that truth, by definition, is binary. Statements, positions and actions, as related to principles, are either true or false and therefore reside at the extremes, not in the relative mushy moderate middle.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that the problem is that people, including conservatives, have been conditioned to view everything through the distorted prism that has been constructed with leftist rhetoric.

    Anne Coulter treats that nonsense exactly the way it should be treated; she smashes it to bits with a large hammer.

    How are "liberals and independents" going to view it? That depends on whether they view leftist house of mirrors as dogma or lies. Either way it's irrelevant.

    Speak plainly and speak the truth. Try to water it down, candy coat it, massage it to suit fragile leftist sensibility, and everybody loses.

    Coulter understands that. She's a very attractive and womanly woman who clearly understands the term, "man up."