On the occasion of the publication of the paperback edition of Ann Coulter’s “Godless”, and yet another round of watching Ann Coulter sell books with calculated outrageous comments on the news show circuit, I have a confession to make. I actually bought, read, and reviewed the hardcover edition of the book a year ago. In the fervent hope that I can stop just one person from buying the book now, I offer these excerpts and links to my report.
“An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally “argument against the person”) or attacking the messenger, involves replying to an argument or assertion by attacking the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself. It is usually, though not always, a logical fallacy…” – from Wikipedia
“Godless” is not a conventional book. It is a collection of essays, with a thin thematic coat of “Church of Liberalism” metaphorically painted across the surface to create the impression of a single coherent theme. The theme does not work. The essays stand on their own, but the attention grabbing title (Godless – The Church of Liberalism) simply does not come together as a theme, and the case supporting the title is never made. In the first chapter she makes an effort to build the foundation, and her conclusion is explicitly stated at the end of the chapter: “Liberals can believe what they want to believe, but let us not flinch from identifying liberalism as the opposition party to God.” Problem being, her only support for the conclusion is a hodge-podge of interesting but disconnected anecdotal anti-liberal diatribes. She then leaps the logical canyon in a single breathtaking bound to this grand but completely unsupported conclusion. After that chapter, she does not even really try to get back to the theme except as catchy subtitles for the remaining chapters.
Remaining chapters (essays) are on the topics of: Liberal failure to deal with Crime (Chapter 2); Willie Horton and the 1988 Presidential Campaign (Chapter 3); Abortion (Chapter 4); Liberals using victims as spokespersons to deflect debate (Chapter 5); The Failure of Public School Teachers and Education (Chapter 6); Liberals using Science as a Political Football (chapter 7); and an extensive “debunking” of the Darwinian theory of evolution (chapters 8-11).
To be fair, Anne Coulter is not writing a doctoral thesis here. “Godless” is simply a well executed bit of political propaganda. Coulter has an agenda, she writes in the service of that agenda to entertain and sway opinion to her objective. In that regard, she is one of the top tier of propagandists working in the in political cotton field, harvesting the hearts and minds of the American electorate.
She joins her fellow high profile propagandists, Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, Bil Maher, and “Baghdad Bob”(Remember him? Saddam’s Information Minister cracking wise with Arab reporters “Americans? What Americans? There are no Americans here.” as the Baghdad airport was being overrun by coalition forces on TV.) All are/were highly effective entertainer/propagandists that play primarily to their base of supporters/audience, working in different media but always in the service of their propaganda agenda.
A primary tool of all propagandists, is the use of facts – documented, provable carefully groomed and selected facts – to create an impression of overwhelming evidence in support of one’s point. Operative word is “selected”. It is also useful to ignore inconvenient facts that contradict the agenda. As an example, If I wanted to make the case that Ann Coulter’s primary propaganda weapon of choice is the logical fallacy of “Ad Hominem” attack, I would support that agenda by first coming up with a clever title for the blog post, then barrage the reader with a long list of actual quotes from her book where she employs the “Ad Hominem” attack…