A review of Godless: The Church of Liberalism. By Ann Coulter. Crown Forum, 2006.
Be forewarned. Coulter is conservatism’s pit bull terrier. And as a pit bull, she goes straight for the jugular. No niceties, no tact, no diplomacy, just passion and fury. It is all blood and bones.
Because she relishes the full-on frontal assault approach, she admittedly goes for overstatement, for exaggeration, for painting with the broad brush. She certainly does not mince her words. But if you do not mind the strength of delivery, the content is very good indeed.
This book is about the many absurdities and shortcomings of liberalism/leftism. It is not just the godlessness of so many of the radicals on the left, it is the paucity of their ideas and the foolishness of their prescriptions. Coulter takes no prisoners as she mercilessly savages the philosophy and practice of the loony left.
But in many ways her job is quite easy. She simply spends a lot of time quoting directly from the liberals themselves. All of their incredible pronouncements are faithfully footnoted, so the reader cannot accuse Coulter of making things up. All the curious claims and puzzling proposals of the leftists are fully documented.
Of course if you are a lefty this book will not make for very pleasant reading. But if you are more conservative in your outlook and like to see the other side taken to task – and with a wallop – then this book will be a pleasure to read. Indeed, Coulter is simply very funny, and this book is filled with great one-liners.
Plenty of other books document the folly of the left, but this book does so with gusto and relish, and great mirth as well. And with a legal background, her acerbic wit is combined with a powerfully trained mind. Indeed, one suspects that she could pen a much more serious, academic and scholarly treatise, but she is much more fun to read in her current style.
The book deals with a number of issues, such as crime and punishment, education, abortion, Darwinism and the media. Because of her legal training, her chapters on law and the legal profession are quite powerful. She offers a scathing critique of liberal visions of justice, policing and sentencing.
The biggest shortcoming of liberalism in this area is their propensity to be weak on crime. Liberals, says Coulter, love to exonerate the criminal while blaming the system and ignoring the victim. Because many liberals are philosophical naturalists, they have a faulty understanding of human nature. Instead of viewing people as made in the image of God and ethically accountable, many liberals see people as glorified animals without moral responsibility. “A chief ingredient of the liberal religion is the bestialization of humanity.”
People are said to be born good, but corrupted by society. Thus liberals believe murderers are “basically good people except for their tendency to sometimes kill people”. Indeed, Coulter documents how liberals often elevate convicted criminals into celebrities. And she documents case after case of liberal madness, be it light sentencing, hampering the ability of the police to do their job, or rewriting our Constitution.
The liberal approach to law and order has been a disaster, and a return to real law enforcement, mandatory sentencing and genuine concern for the victim is part of the process to restore sanity. Coulter documents the rise in crime under liberal policies, and the fall in crime under conservative rule. New York City of course witnessed a demonstrable reduction in crime thanks to the get-tough approach of Mayor Giuliani.
Her chapter on abortion is equally hard hitting and incisive. For many lefties, abortion on demand is the litmus test of true liberalism. Liberals deplore the 2,200 American lives lost in the Iraq war, but speak of the 1.3 million children killed each year in America as a woman’s right to choose. It seems to Coulter that the left’s most important value is destroying human life.
The abortion mindset is characterised by contradiction and callousness. Coulter rightly asks, “if women are so pro-abortion, why are virtually all abortionists men? If ever there was a need for a Take Our Daughter to Work Day, it’s at the abortion mills.”
The misplaced priorities of the left are clearly set out by Coulter: “Liberals are more upset when a tree is chopped down than when a child is aborted. Even if one rates an unborn child less than a full-blown person, doesn’t the unborn child rate slightly higher than vegetation?”
Then there are the ‘I hate America’ liberals, those who have a pathological hatred of Bush and the US, and find them responsible for all the world’s ills. Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in the Iraq conflict, has become a cause celebre amongst the left with her anti-war stance. Calling Bush the “biggest terrorist in the world,” a “fuhrer,” and an “evil maniac,” she has become the poster child of the anti-war movement, or as Coulter puts it, the “angry Left’s human shield”.
Says Coulter, “We’re sorry about Ms. Sheehan’s son, but the entire nation was attacked on 9/11. This isn’t a ‘teachable moment,’ it’s a war. The Left’s campaign to turn war into a matter of individual’s personal grief cheapens what we’re fighting against. America has been under relentless attack from Islamic terrorists for twenty years. . . . It’s not going to stop unless we fight back. . . . A lot more American mothers will be grieving if our military policy is: No one gets hurt!”
She also has several chapters on “junk science” and the left’s misuse of science, such as in radical environmentalism. She lists a number of examples. For instance, why does the scientific community continually champion the cause of embryonic stem cells, when the only human cures thus far come from adult stem cells? “Liberals lie about the science on stem-cell research because they warm to the idea of destroying human embryos. If they can desensitize Americans to the idea of harvesting human embryos for imaginary medical cures, liberals believe it will help advance the cause of killing the unborn.”
Or take the issue of education and the teachers’ unions. These are the major hotbeds of the left today. Not only are they breeding grounds for leftwing indoctrination, they are also hothouses for secularism and humanism. “Public schools are forbidden from mentioning religion not because of the Constitution, but because public schools are the Left’s madrassas. . . . At least the crazy Muslims get funding from Saudi Arabia for their madrassas. Liberals force normal Americans to pay for their religious schools.”
She also considers the issue of Darwinism and its intellectual opponent, Intelligent Design. Although she does not have a science background (most of us don’t), she does draw on some heavyweights from the ID world, including Michael Behe, William Dembski and David Berlinski.
Coulter rightly points out that many scientists embrace evolution not so much because it fits all the facts, but because it is seen as a good way to throw God out of the universe. Even though the evidence for evolution is tenuous at best, it has rabidly zealous disciples that will rival any religious organisation.
“Darwiniacs do not have a single observable example of one species evolving into another by the Darwinian mechanism of variation and selection. All they have is a story. It is a story that inspires fanatical devotion from the cult simply because their story excludes a creator.”
When there is no God, man is viewed simply as an animal. Thus Darwinism leads to all sorts of troubling ramifications. Coulter notes the heavy use of Darwinism by Hitler, and how Peter Singer’s radical worldview is simply the extension of evolutionary thinking. “Liberals may quibble with Singer’s conclusions, but his beliefs are logically unassailable if humans are no different from animals.”
Numerous other leftwing shibboleths are attacked along the way in this demolition job. As I said earlier, not everyone will like her abrasive, take-no-prisoners approach. Sure, she could say “Most liberals…” or “Often liberals…” or “Generally speaking, liberals…” instead of simply saying “liberals…”. But it is a rhetorical feature. It certainly makes her case stronger and more punchy. And in her more quiet moments she would admit that not all liberals are inclined to every lunacy documented in this book.
So it is really a question of style. But the content is generally spot on, with plenty of quotes straight from the mouths of liberals to help make her case. The church of liberalism has many cracks and fault lines, which Coulter is happy to expose and exploit.
If religious readers are offended by the shoot-em-up style of Coulter, then they may want to give this book a miss. But if you are tired of the left/liberal hegemony in the mainstream press, and want a humorous and hard-hitting expose of the leftist agenda, this is a great read.
5 Replies to “A review of Godless: The Church of Liberalism. By Ann Coulter. Crown Forum, 2006.”
I probably wouldn’t enjoy the style but it sounds as though this lady can think. Funny that many of the liberal camp used to think the conservatives were the ones who didn’t use their grey matter.
Katherine Fishley, Wantirna
Many thanks for your review. She certainly cuts behind the facade of liberalism, eg., a chief ingredient of liberal religion is the beastialization of humanity, your words. For many lefties abortion on demand is the litmus test of true liberals. Again, the left’s most important value is destroying life.
And then her renaming the misuse of science as junk science tieing this to stem cell research desensitizing us to the harvesting of embryos to advance the cause of killing the unborn.
Doubtless other readers will respond to other issues she zeros in on.
Do keep on exposing the presuppositions of various writers as she does.
Rev Stan Fishley, Melbourne
Thanks for reviewing this one. I’ve recently received my copy from Amazon and can’t wait to read it. I think Coulter’s punchy approach is awesome and her arguments are simple and to the point.
Thanks again for your efforts.
Andrew Dinham, Adelaide
Helpful, to the point, and discerning of a variety of readers and the strengths and vulnerabilities of rhetorical devices. Good job, Bill.
Joe Whitchurch, Indiana, USA
I am a great fan of Ann Coulter. I have a couple of her books. On any occasion that it is announced that she is to appear on American TV, I make sure I watch that show. Some critics criticise her, because they are so accustomed to hearing and using euphemisms in their conversations with others, they can not handle her direct and honest description of any situation.
Frank Bellet, Queensland