I used to hate politics. Then I met Ann Coulter.
In case you haven’t seen PCU, allow me to explain: I am only one of many in my generation who grew into adulthood harboring a strong desire to avoid all forms of political discussion. For many of us growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, the deafening liberal attacks coming across cable news, talk radio, and then the internet defined politics as a source of talking-head tsuris and therefore best avoided at all costs.
The unavoidable reality hit when I enrolled in grad school and promptly learned the phrase: “Everything is political.” And that was before I got the chance to interview the prospective film studies professor who declared himself a communist without blinking an eye.
Critical theory, my chosen area of study, comes in many forms. The most memorable (and popular) being a series of schools based on race/ethnicity/gender/sexual demarcations that could easily be classified under the heading “White Men Are Coming To Get You Studies.” All theories are taught under the general pseudo-philosophical guideline of postmodernism. I could spend entire articles trying to explain that one. Instead, I’ll just let this handy little comic do it for me.
Nothing I learned made sense yet all of it was accepted as holy. Any time I would question these ideas I would receive furrowed brows, gobsmacked expressions, or simply be told in so many words that I just “didn’t get it.” These reactions probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much except for the fact that they were coming from the professor who would sign off on my thesis, providing me with the paperwork I needed to graduate and get the hell out of Dodge.
Hell. I was in hell. Instead of being taught how to think, I was paying to be told what to think. Waiting in the airport for my flight back to campus after winter break, I contemplated throwing in the towel. And then, I heard an angel’s voice and a bright light beckoned me to the bookstore in the terminal…
Okay, not totally. But I do know for a fact that finding Ann Coulter’s Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right on my way to the plane was a divine appointment. Three hours later I landed on solid ground and felt my feet beneath me for the first time in 18 months. Finally, someone was making sense.
Perhaps if conservatives had had total control over every major means of news dissemination for a quarter century, they would have forgotten how to debate, too, and would just call liberals stupid and mean.
Ann waited until page 2 to verbalize the crux of the problem I’d been facing: This liberal professor had total control and, therefore, could demean and dismiss me whenever he liked.
Or so he thought and so did I, until I met Ann Coulter.
Coulterism #5: LAUGH AT YOUR ENEMIES
My love affair with Ann Coulter was sparked by her quick-witted sense of humor. Oddly enough, her sarcastic jabs often get her into more trouble than her actual argumentation. This is most likely due to the reality that well-researched and documented facts are fairly difficult to dismiss. Coulter’s deft one-liners delivered in rapid response are her true claim to fame and the main reason liberals love to hate her. This is ironically funny considering that many liberals feel free to sling around non-PC stereotypes and trash-talk for laughs, political points, and, most importantly, ratings.
Ann’s counterculture spirit drew me into her work. Despite what pseudo-yippies stereotype as “counterculture,” Ann’s love of the Grateful Dead, her quiet yet powerful faith that transcends the typical church-state cultural divide (“I don’t really care what people say about me, I’m a Christian so there’s nothing anyone can ever do to me…”), and her role as the honorary chair of the GOProud advisory council make Coulter more of a stereotype-breaker than Gen X & Y’s typical hippie-wannabes. Unlike most “rule-breaking,” self-loathing comedians whose mockery is a thinly veiled plea for acceptance, Coulter’s comedy stems from her embrace of the fact that the “reality” liberals claim to be the truth is a big, fat lie. There is no better way to respond to a liar who swears they’re telling the truth than by simply laughing in their face.
Coulterism #4: DO YOUR RESEARCH
Like any good lawyer, Ann Coulter reeks of confidence hard-earned by many long hours of copious research. Instead of taking someone’s word for it, Coulter trudges out primary-source material from the depths of LexisNexis archives at the click of a button. Ironically, it seems that liberal professors aren’t as good at teaching research techniques as they are at spoon-feeding their political agenda through their syllabi. As recent research indicates, going to college not only makes you liberal — it makes you dumb.
Have you met Whittaker Chambers? Through Slander Ann introduced me to the communist-turned-government-informant — the dirty little secret disproving liberals’ long-held belief that the Red Scare was Eisenhower’s trumped-up tactic for winning a second term. The reality of the communist infiltration of the American government is only one of the many truths liberals have re-written (or totally ignored) in academia and the mainstream media. In fact, thanks to an exponential growth in left-leaning staff in both academia and the MSM over the last half of the 20th century, the ideology that justified this willful ignorance has promulgated a bias toward lying (commonly referred to as “political correctness”) in nearly every sphere of daily life. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that college students today have lifted phrases like “Well, you know…” or “I don’t know, you know?” to a conversational art form. Blend a constant stream of lies with a postmodern “anything goes and nothing matters” philosophy and you have a stoner’s dream… or a logical thinker’s nightmare.
Coulterism #3: TAKE CONTROL
And if you don’t go along with the trend of political correctness, you get slapped — with a dirty look, a warning, or even in some cases a lawsuit. Because, as Ann so keenly explained, liberals think they’re in control — I would argue — not just of the media, but of life in general. Whether it’s birth control, climate control, or gun control they’re campaigning for, liberals are in a constant battle for control over every aspect of your life. Education? Food? Medical care? Liberals demand increased government supervision over everything. The only reason they get away with it? Because you’ve been mentally and socially conditioned to believe that if you disagree with liberal opinion you’re either mean or just plain stupid. In the words of Soviet strategists, you’ve been completely demoralized.
Nowhere is this demoralizing criticism more employed or more taken to heart than on college campuses. Only last year, the Daily Princetonian printed an article on “Conservative Comfort” (or the lack thereof) at Princeton University:
During this past September’s discussion, recent alumni dished out pointers to Princeton conservatives on how to conquer the hurdles posed as a minority on campus: how to challenge an unfair, politically influenced grade by a liberal professor, when to step away from a political debate with a roommate and whether to list conservative activities on applications to graduate schools.
If the professors (or your radical roommates) aren’t discouraging enough, administrations that condemn the appearance of conservative speakers like Ann while inviting radical leftists to speak at campus-wide events do their best to drive the message home that when it comes to politics, you’re either in (meaning you have a shot at a degree and a career) or you’re out, so you’d better start flipping burgers.
Or you choose to be like Ann and retake control of your brain, your choices, and your life from the clutches of The Kool-Aid induced Liberal “Reality.” But how do you dare do such a thing?
Because you can. It really is as simple as that. And if you forget, the research is there to back you up.
Coulterism #2: STAND YOUR GROUND
Hardcore lefties like to argue. If they didn’t, Ann Coulter wouldn’t have had to write How To Talk to a Liberal (If You Must). Despite popular research, there are liberals who don’t walk away from conversations. And contrary to popular opinion, there are politically inclined conversationalists who you’ll share common ground with on more than one issue. Remaining true to your principles is essential to maintaining the focus of the conversation. Like Ann amidst the college libertarians, stand your ground on the issues that matter and avoid getting drawn into useless and ineffective word battles (often revolving around issues that are grounded more in morality than politics) that do more to divide the camp than unite it.
Of course, it is wise to keep in mind that some leftists folk stick around for the thrill of an argument, as if Marx and Lenin are keeping score to see who can beat the dead horse the hardest. As for how to handle those conversations, see Coulterism #5 again.
Coulterism #1: GET INTO BED WITH THE TRUTH
Herein lies the ultimate lesson of Ann: Truth is the ultimate weapon and there is no defeating it. You can argue, defame, or walk away, but truth will always be there. And once you’ve met the truth and come to know the truth, you enter into a relationship with the truth: You keep it, it keeps you.
And so the truth kept me sane as I clung to it dearly. After coming to an agreement with my professor (he made me promise I’d never go for a Ph.D; I answered that I had no plans to do so “at this time” which I thought to be a great postmodern response), I stuck to my guns and used my own ideas in my thesis (gasp!), which my committee passed (double-gasp!) despite it not being “worthy of the academy.” When I accepted my master’s degree, I turned to the graduation day audience, eyed my professor sitting in the front row, and took a deep, long bow. The show may have been over, but the joke was on him.
I had already received my standing ovation the week before from 100 seniors I’d guided through an audio-production lab that semester. On the first day of class one of them had meekly asked, “When it comes to our projects, do we have to follow the rules?” I looked at them and answered, “You aren’t getting paid for this. In fact, you’re seniors, so for many of you this will be one of the last opportunities that won’t involving having to answer to someone bigger than you. I don’t want to hear what you think I expect; I want to hear who you are. Just be yourself.”