April 25, 2005

Mainstreaming Hate Speech

The TIME cover and article about Ann Coulter was criticized by many on the left, yet as Daily Howler reported, not enough really understood the real problem or made it clear what was at stake here. This article seeks to make Coulter someone who is seen as a innocuous pundit, not too extreme, someone who is only being funny. As Somerby shows, though, she is a liar who lies even with her footnotes and Slander is not just the name of the book she wrote, but the type of personal attack she has perfected.

John Cloud, the author of the piece doesn't know what the fuss is and stated that Eric Alterman was way out of line in attacking him - and in fact, was certainly in the same camp as Coulter:

What I'll say is that I think Eric Alterman and Ann Coulter engage in the same kind of debate. They don't often make actual arguments. Instead, they throw names around.

But, I'd be interested in knowing how many times Alterman has been caught lying or how many times he's expressed the desire to see his opponents murdered.

On Friday, Eric published a letter that Rick Perlstein sent to the editors at TIME which I think clarifies what TIME and John Cloud did with their story about Coulter -- a soft, respectful story that makes her seem to be someone who should be considered credible.

Name: Rick Perlstein
Hometown: Chicago, IL

...sent to Cloud under the subject heading "you must be overwhelmed right now, but..."


...please read this.

I've been thinking of nothing else but you, your article, Coulter, and Time the last few days, and I think I have something to well-informed and useful to contribute that might rise above the dreck you must be getting bombarded with.

I have a pretty decent understanding of the right. That's why, I humbly submit, when I wrote my book about Barry Goldwater, it got glowing reviews in every right-wing publication, from the Weekly Standard to a white-supremecist quarterly.

This is the point I want to convey. People who spew hate rhetoric, talk violence, and make things up have nothing to do with Michael Moore, Eric Alterman, and David Brock.

What they have to do with is this. The last time figures like Coulter were being mainstreamed for public consumption in this way was 1994-95. People like Gordon Liddy--who, recall, was "joking" to his listeners to shoot federal agents in the head.

This pushed the limits of the acceptable far to the right, and vulnerable, nutty people felt licensed to blow up buildings because of it.

There will be right-wing violence in the next year. Of that I have no doubt. And people who've served to push the limits of the acceptable far to the right by mainstreaming people who spew hate rhetoric, talk violence, and make things up will bear some measure of responsibility.

You've made a series of very grave lapses in moral, professional, and intellectual judgement. You have no idea what you're dealing with.

Somberby also thought this article will do real damage to our country and the aversion he feels about what will come of building up Coulter's profile is palpable.

How does Coulter’s pathology work? When she “corrects” a blatant mistake, she “corrects” it to something else that is bogus! And when her footnotes show that her text is bogus, her footnotes turn out to be fake-phony too! And it turns out that her text has been plagiarized! And alas! Since normal people almost never encounter pathology of this high potency, it’s easy to be fooled by Coulter. In this case, Taylor caught Coulter in her first layer of “error,” but then passed on her next bogus claim, telling readers that Elders had said the nasty things about Thomas. With Coulter, the lying never stops. Her slanders spread all through the land.

Yeats foresaw an unpleasant day when a “rough beast” would crawl out on the land. When “the worst are full of passionate intensity” and when “the best lack all conviction;” Yeats imagined a thing crawling forth, polluting all basic traditions. We can’t help but think of what Yeats said when we contemplate the remarkable way the “press corps” gives its pass to Ann Coulter:

YEATS: The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The darkness drops again! Don’t let denial convince you that it can’t be so—that a crackpot like Coulter can’t be the rough beast that is crawling forth onto the land. In just the past five years, the “press corps,” lacking all conviction, has made Gore seem crazy and Coulter seem sane. Their first performance put Bush in the White House; the latter act leads to a pitiless future. Quite plainly, Coulter’s the craziest one of them all—and your denatured “press corps” sends boys out to pimp her, boys who say they can’t find her mistakes! Don’t be fooled—Coulter is the stalking-horse, the test-case to see if there is anything so absurd, so insane, so bizarre, that your modern “press corps” won’t let it be peddled. This week, Time gave its answer: No. The mag said it couldn’t find Coulter’s mistakes—and that her comments are made in good fun.

What will come of our country with a media that kowtows to those who advocate hate and blood for the unforgiveable sin of being liberal? Or a country that tolerates lies and gross abuse of power? Our future looks bleak indeed.

Posted by Mary at April 25, 2005 12:38 AM | Communications | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Ok, what I want to know is, if John Cloud believes Eric Alterman is just like Ann Coulter, then why doesn't Eric Alterman make the cover of Time? Where's his Time cover story?

Posted by: Jason Stokes at April 25, 2005 08:48 AM

I completely agree that Coulter is not the slightest bit humorous about her bloodthirsty comments. I saw a webcast of the Coulter interview with Katie Couric. Coulter never cracked a smile once. She was absolutely dead serious the entire time.
Sorry, but when Coulter makes outrageously vicious comments, they are not meant in jest.
Just a few weeks ago, the LA Times ran a story about how bloggers were wildly irresponsible compared to mainstream journalists who had editors and factcheckers. Either Time's people were all asleep on the job or Time made a conscious and deliberate decision to write a puff piece about a demagouge. Either way, mainstream journalists should be ashamed.

Posted by: Rich at April 26, 2005 03:09 PM