Saturday, June 24, 2006


What’s most amazing about Ann Coulter’s book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, is the amount of intellectual meat she packs into 281 breezy, barb-filled pages. Among the topics the blonde bomb-thrower discusses in some depth are the following: liberal jurisprudence, privacy rights and abortion, Joe Wilson’s modest career and inflated ego, and the solid record of failure in American public schools. The topics of Intelligent Design and Darwinism, to which the last eighty pages of text are devoted, are analyzed in even greater detail.

As one would expect from an author with a legal background, Supreme Court cases are high on Coulter’s hit-list—especially the idea of a “living Constitution.” Citing various cases-in-point, Coulter shows that this popular doctrine is nothing more than a paralegal pretext for making the Constitution say whatever liberal judges want it to say. Though such a philosophy grants to the nation’s founding document all the integrity of a bound and gagged assault victim, it at least has the virtue of mirroring liberals’ self-referential view of morality.

Another dogma that Coulter skewers is the liberal commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Punish the Perp.” This counterintuitive principle not only rejects the link between incarceration and lower crime rates, it also permits benevolent judges (like Clinton federal court nominee Frederica Massiah-Jackson) to shorten the sentence of child rapists so that other innocent children can pay the price for society’s sins.

An unexpected bonus in this chapter is the author’s extended sidebar on Upton Sinclair, the muckraking author of Boston who, as his own correspondence shows, knew Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty but chose, for ideological and financial reasons, to portray them as innocent victims. In a related chapter, “The Martyr: Willie Horton,” Coulter provides detailed information about Horton’s crimes, Michael Dukakis’ furlough program, and the precise nature of the Horton ads aired in the 1988 presidential campaign

Continuing the religious imagery, Coulter asserts in chapter five that abortion is the “holiest sacrament” of the “church of liberalism.” For women this sacrament secures their “right to have sex with men they don’t want to have children with.” A corollary of this less-than-exalted principle is the right to suck the brains out of partially born infants. How far liberal politicians will go to safeguard this sacrament whose name must not be spoken (Euphemisms are “choice,” “reproductive freedom,” and “family planning.”) is shown by an amendment offered by Senator Chuck Schumer that would exclude anti-abortion protestors from bankruptcy protection. How low these same pols will go is illustrated by the character assassination of Judge Charles Pickering—a man honored by the brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers but slimed by liberals at his confirmation hearing as racially insensitive. Coulter notes that the unspoken reason for this “Borking” of Pickering was the judge’s prior criticism of Roe v. Wade.

The single chapter that Coulter’s critics have honed in on is the one that exposes the liberal “Doctrine of Infallibility.” This religiously resonant phrase applies to individuals who promote the Left’s partisan agenda while immunizing themselves from criticism by touting their victim-status. In addition to the 9/11 “Jersey Girls,” Coulter identifies Joe Wilson, Cindy Sheehan, Max Cleland, and John Murtha as persons who possess, at least by Maureen Dowd’s lights, “absolute moral authority.” Curiously, this exalted status isn’t accorded victims who don’t push liberal agendas. Perhaps the fact that Republican veterans outnumber their Democrat counterparts in Congress, 87 to 62, has something to do with this inconsistency.

Coulter’s next chapter, “The Liberal Priesthood: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Teacher,” focuses on the partisanship, compensation, and incompetence level of American teachers. A crucial statistic in these pages concerns the “correlation [that exists] between poor student achievement and time spent in U.S. public schools.” Comments by Thomas Sowell and Albert Shanker also stand out. Sowell notes that college students with low SAT and ACT scores are more likely to major in education and that “teachers who have the lowest scores are the most likely to remain in the profession.” From a different perspective, the late President of the American Federation of Teachers stated, with refreshing bluntness, “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.” The words of John Dewey, a founder of America’s public education system, also fit nicely into Coulter’s state-of-the-classroom overview: “You can’t make Socialists out of individualists—children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.” Coulter responds, “You also can’t make socialists out of people who can read, which is probably why Democrats think the public schools have nearly achieved Aristotelian perfection.”

The last third of Godless focuses on matters scientific. Chapter seven, “The Left’s War on Science,” serves as an appetizer for Coulter’s evolutionary piece de resistance. Prior to that main course, Coulter provides a litany of examples that illustrate the left’s contempt for scientific data that doesn’t comport with its worldview. Exhibits include the mendacious marketing of AIDS as an equal opportunity disease, the hysterical use of anecdotal evidence to ban silicon breast implants, and the firestorm arising from Lawrence Summer’s heretical speculation about male and female brain differences.

The remaining chapters of Godless all deal with Darwinism. Nowhere else can one find a tart-tongued compendium of information that not only presents a major argument for intelligent design but also exposes the blatant dishonesty of “Darwiniacs” who continue to employ evidence (such as the Miller-Urey experiment, Ernst Haeckel’s embryo drawings, and the famous peppered moth experiment) that they know is outdated or fraudulent.

Within this bracing analysis, Coulter employs the observations of such biological and philosophical heavyweights as Stephen Gould, Richard Lewontin, Richard Dawkins, Michael Behe, and Karl Popper. The price of the whole book is worth the information contained in these chapters about the statistical improbability of random evolution, the embarrassing absence of “transitional” fossils, and the inquisitorial attitude that prevails among many scientists (and most liberals) when discussing these matters. Unlike biologist Richard Lewontin, who candidly admits that a prior commitment to materialism informs his allegiance to evolution, most of his colleagues (and certainly most of the liberal scribblers Coulter sets on the road to extinction) won’t concede that Darwinism is a corollary, rather than a premise, of their godlessness.

Coulter’s final chapter serves as a thought-provoking addendum to her searing cross-examination of evolution’s star witnesses. “The Aped Crusader” displays the devastating social consequences that have thus far attended Darwinism. From German and American eugenicists (including Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger), to Aryan racists, to the infanticidal musings of Princeton’s Peter Singer, Darwinian evolution boasts a political and philosophical heritage that could only be envied by the likes of Charles Manson. Yet it is a history ignored by liberals for whom Darwin’s theory provides what they want above all else—a creation myth that sanctifies their sexual urges, sanctions abortion, and disposes of God.

Coulter’s book is clearly not a systematic argument for the idea that liberalism is a godless religion. Indeed, prior to the material on evolution, the concept is treated more as a clever theme for chapter headings than as a serious intellectual proposition. In those final chapters, however, Coulter manages to present a cogent, sustained argument that actually begins to link modern liberalism (or more specifically, leftism) to an atheistic perspective. At the very least Coulter succeeds in raising an important issue—namely, that American courts currently ignore the religious or quasi-religious character of a philosophy that pervades public institutions and is propagated with public funds. This fact, if honestly recognized, would render contemporary church-state jurisprudence untenable. The Court would have to recognize, as a clever man once said, that the elimination of metaphysics equals a metaphysic of elimination. Put more simply, judges would have to come to terms with the fact that every philosophy, including “liberalism,” swims in the same intellectual current as religion.

Thus far, the mainstream media have focused almost all their attention on Coulter’s take-no-prisoners rhetorical style—and particularly on the “insensitive” remarks about those 9/11 widows who seem to be “enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.” Clearly, diplomatic language is not Coulter’s forte, as one would also gather from this representative zinger: “I don’t particularly care if liberals believe in God. In fact, I would be crestfallen to discover any liberals in heaven.”

What undercuts the liberals’ case against Coulter, however, is their own (not always tacit) endorsement of vile epithets that are regularly directed against President Bush and his supporters by the likes of Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, and a gaggle of celebrity politicos. Coulter employs the same linguistic standard against liberals (with a touch of humor) that they regularly use (with somber faces and dogmatic conviction) when they accuse conservatives of being racist homophobes who gladly send youngsters to war under false pretences to line the pockets of Halliburton. Hate-speech of this stripe is old-hat for leftists.

Until Air America, Helen Thomas, and most Democrat constituencies alter their rhetoric, I see no reason for conservatives to denounce Coulter for using, more truthfully, the same harsh language that leftists have employed, with no regard for accuracy, since the time of Lenin. When liberals denounce communist tyrants as fervently as they do real Nazis, then it will be time for Coulter to cool the rhetoric. Until that time her “verbal reprisals” serve a useful function within an intellectual marketplace that resembles a commodities pit more than a debating society.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Slogging through The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America is a bit like taking in the Interstate scenery between Abilene and El Paso—a whole lot of the same thing. Orchestrated by David Horowitz and largely carried out by an ensemble of assistants, this book consists, in large measure, of a succession of ideological portraits culled from campuses across the country. Profiles of anti-American Marxists who employ classrooms to advance their radical social agenda are interrupted by profiles of anti-American queer theorists, anti-Semitic Islamists, and anti-Caucasian racists who all exhibit contempt for ideas other than their own. Amid the mind-numbing repetitiveness of this serial critique of academic bigotry and incompetence, a few cases do stand out.

Take, for example, Bernardine Dohrn and her husband Bill Ayers. Dohrn is a law professor at Northwestern, while Ayers holds the title “Distinguished Professor” at the University of Illinois, Chicago. In their youth both joined the Weatherman underground, a group that “managed to bomb the U.S. Capitol building, New York City Police Headquarters, the Pentagon, and the National Guard offices in Washington, D.C.”

Far from being on the periphery of this organization, Dohrn and Ayers were active members. Indeed, both were pursued by the FBI throughout the 70s. According to a Horowitz researcher, only a “technicality” for improper surveillance prevented the pair from receiving serious jail time for their crimes. Moreover, neither professor has denounced the activities they supported years ago.

Of his bomb-detonating days Ayers commented, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” That comment, ironically enough, was published by the New York Times in the edition that was delivered to the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Dohrn, by contrast, claimed to be “joking” when she celebrated the brutal Sharon Tate murders that were carried out by members of Charles Manson’s clan: “Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach! Wild!” This same person now directs the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern and spends her professional time, along with her husband, working to prevent the punishment of violent juvenile offenders.

Then there is the inventor of Kwanzaa, Professor Ron Karenga. In 1971, Karenga and two other members of his “United Slaves” organization were convicted of felonious assault and false imprisonment. Karenga, who bestowed the title “Maulana” or “Master Teacher” upon himself, spent four years in prison for these crimes before being released in 1975. This resume blemish didn’t prevent Karenga from securing a faculty appointment at San Diego State University shortly thereafter. In 1979 Karenga moved to Cal State Long Beach where, in 1989, he was named head of the Black Studies Department. That’s an amazing career track--fourteen years from prison inmate to department head of a state university!

(Meshing nicely with this case of affirmative action for criminals, researcher Thomas Ryan notes that Kwanzaa’s seven principles are the same principles embraced by the Symbionese Liberation Army—the domestic terrorist group that kidnapped Patricia Hearst in 1974 and employed a seven-headed snake to symbolize their collectivist philosophy.)

Having run for vice-president on the party’s ticket in 1980 and ’84, Angela Davis is probably the most famous Communist now teaching on American campuses. But she is surely the only “University Professor” in the University of California system who boasts that title despite a complete absence of serious scholarship. Davis does, of course, possess the distinction of fleeing from the FBI and being tried for involvement in a 1970 plot to free her imprisoned lover—a Black Panther awaiting trial for murder. This plot resulted in the death of four people, including Judge Harold Haley, whose “head was blown off by a sawed-off shotgun owned by Professor Davis.” Davis, however, acting as her own lawyer to avoid cross-examination, was found not guilty of the conspiracy charges against her—thus setting the stage for the honors that were lavished upon her by both the Soviet Union (the International Lenin Peace Prize) and the University of California system.

Horowitz’s well-written introductory chapter contains the most egregious example of academic preferences for imprisoned radicals. That case concerns Susan Rosenberg, who, in the fall of 2004, was invited to join the faculty of Hamilton College as a “Visiting Professor.” Twenty years earlier Rosenberg, another member of the Weatherman underground, had been apprehended and sentenced to 58 years in prison for helping move hundreds of pounds of explosives into a New Jersey warehouse. A midnight pardon issued by Bill Clinton, however, made all the difference between doing time in a federal prison and teaching a course on “Resistance Memoirs” to students at Hamilton.

Rosenberg’s invitation to Hamilton was only withdrawn when a student, Ian Mandel, brought intense public scrutiny to her background—a history that also included an indictment for the murder of two Nyack, New Jersey police officers whose memorial stood a mile from Mandel’s home. As if to indicate their contempt for public standards of decency, the Hamilton organization responsible for inviting a convicted terrorist to the faculty followed that fiasco with a speaking invitation to Ward Churchill—an offer that was reluctantly rescinded after Churchill’s “little Eichmanns” comment about the innocent victims of 9/11 was publicized.

The conclusion one must draw from such examples isn’t that every institution has its bad apples but rather that, at least in the liberal arts in America, moral turpitude and political hucksterism pervades higher education. Radical criminals with questionable academic credentials flourish in a milieu that bristles with hostility toward real scholars who don’t toe the party line—witness the case of former Harvard President Lawrence Summers.

Individuals with prison records or FBI rap sheets don’t get into major educational institutions because they fudge their resumes. They get in because they share the political dogmas of those who hire them—and they flourish for the same reason. Angela Davis isn’t a “University Professor” because of her scholarship. She is there because of her politics.

What The Professors ultimately reveals isn’t a list of instructors that students can avoid, but a corrupt, politicized system that has contempt for the very idea of liberal education.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


“It’s just a movie.” That’s the nonchalant retort that elites employ to mollify people who object to the venomous calumnies that are directed against the Catholic Church in Dan Brown’s now-it-is, now-it-isn’t fictional story, The Da Vinci Code.

It’s curious how this sophisticated observation is only employed when a movie offends certain sensibilities. No critic, for example, would have thought to downplay the significance of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ by saying, “It’s just a movie.” On the contrary, indignant commentary alleging anti-Semitism was ubiquitous.

Likewise, when United 93 was released, the mainstream media were atwitter with angst over whether Americans were “ready” for the film. No one, to my knowledge, pooh-poohed this psychologizing based on the fact that United 93 was “just a movie.” (Not surprisingly, no traumatological speculation has accompanied Oliver Stone’s soon-to-be-released 9/11 flick.)

Apparently there’s an unwritten rule for invoking the “It’s just a movie” clause that limits its use to scripts that slander military officials (JFK) and Christians or glamorize depravity (Pulp Fiction). In the unlikely event that a movie portrayed some Jesse Jackson double in a less-than-sympathetic light, one can be sure that industry flacks would never let these same words fall from their lips.

That little word “just”—as movie moguls prove when they tout their Brokeback achievements at award ceremonies—is a lie. Film, television, and other media shape public sensibilities—a point Plato made long ago when he discussed the impact that arts have upon character. “In music…lawlessness easily creeps in unseen…in the form of play, when it seems likely to do no harm.” Cultural elites know the power of mass communication—but deny it selectively.

Imagine a movie in which a priest is mysteriously murdered at Lincoln Center. As he dies he shreds his robe suggestively over a CBS camera. Subsequently, a polymath professor, dismissed from a prominent Catholic University for having anti-abortion views, begins to put together, at his great peril, the pieces of a vast, left-wing conspiracy.

The CBS eye turns out to be the symbol for an elite group that shapes public opinion by manipulating media messages. Moreover, this cocktail-swishing coven has a pedigree that extends through Jean-Paul Sartre and Sigmund Freud to the Marquis de Sade. Its ultimate goal is the destruction of the Judeo-Christian conscience that has informed Western society for the last 1500 years.

You can create the climax of your choice for this whodunit. But you can’t imagine any critic saying of such a film, “It’s just a movie.” Instead, this slick flick would be vilified as the paranoid fantasy of a mentally deranged individual with lifetime memberships in both the NRA and 700 Club.

Secular critics don’t pretend that movies of this sort are unimportant. They only pretend when movies vilify people or institutions that they hate.