Treason , by Ann Coulter - Book Review

Book Classification : Nonfiction - Politics - Current Events -
American History - Cold War - McCarthyism - Conservative Authors


Treason : Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism by Ann Coulter
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Hardcover - 368 pages
Published by Crown Forum Books
ISBN 1400050308

Hardcover - 368 pages
First Edition, June 24, 2003
Published by Crown Forum Books
ISBN 1400050308

Book Review and Editorial Opinion

Ann Coulter begins Treason with this assertion:

"Liberals have a preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason. You could be talking about Scrabble and they would instantly leap to the anti-American position. Everyone says liberals love America, too. No they don't. Whenever the nation is under attack, from within or without, liberals side with the enemy. This is their essence."

Unfortunately, the book never gets any better. The angry author begins at the bottom of a hole in civil discourse and never climbs out of it. Coulter is still looking up from the same rattlesnake pit when she closes the last chapter of the book:

Buy the book Treason : Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism by Ann Coulter

"Liberals promote the rights of Islamic fanatics for the same reason they promote the rights of adulterers, pornographers, abortionists, criminals, and Communists. They instinctively root for anarchy and against civilization. The inevitable logic of the liberal position is to be for treason."

Do words have meanings or can they be used to mean anything? How can we define terminology such that roughly half the population of a country is disloyal to the country? The only way to do that is to conflate gradations in loyalty or disloyalty with viewpoints about specific public policies, to use an emotion-packed word like "treason" to mean nothing more than, "I disagree with your opinion about this or that issue."

I was aware that the debaters' tactic of attacking the person rather than evaluating the idea, the logical fallacy known as the ad hominem argument, has been used for thousands of years. It's nevertheless a disappointment to learn that one more resort to this uncivil tactic is all that it takes to propel an author to the top of the bestseller list.

In some contexts, political ignorance is funny. Remember laughing at Archie Bunker? Find plenty of humorous ad hominem adjectives in Chapter 13, entitled Celebrity Traitors. In this chapter, Archie -- oops, I mean Ann Coulter -- takes on Hollywood's "overpampered elites". Those individuals whom she finds "blurting out their hatred for America" include actress and "vegan hysteric" Kim Basinger, comedian and "lemon pucker puss" Janeane Garofalo, actor and "head of Chain-Smoking Drunks Against War" Sean Penn, and several other "casting-couch philosophers" with "infantile Oedipal disorders." So, naturally, I got a good laugh when Coulter complains in chapter 6 of the way people now speak of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI, 1908-1957): "It simply must be accepted that McCarthy is bad because of liberals' capacity to call him names."

I found in Treason the same basic misunderstandings of the political spectrum that I found when I reviewed Bias by Bernard Goldberg. From the first paragraph of Chapter 1, Coulter uses the words "liberal" and "left" interchangably. Political extremes generally view the center as part of the opposite extreme. The left considers the center to be part of the right, and the right considers the center to be part of the left. Therefore, when the author describes liberals as the "left" she can only be describing something about herself, that is, her own stance on the right. Analogously, Illinois is a western state -- compared to Connecticut.

Conservatives are people who want to maintain and operate within the political and economic systems that now exist. Conservatives and liberals agree that the fundamentals of the system are to be maintained, but disagree on the extent to which the non-fundamentals, that is, the specific manifestations or forms, should be open to change (reform). The left wouldn't be satisfied with any degree of reform, and wants to change the fundamentals. Therefore liberals are not part of the left.

Ann Coulter laments, "The ACLU responded to the 9-11 terrorist attack by threatening to sue schools that hung God Bless America signs." Perhaps the author doesn't like the fact that the U.S. Constitution prohibits having an official government religion, whereas the ACLU likes it. Why, then, shouldn't we conclude that the ACLU, on this issue, are the true conservatives? The author never even tries to answer that obvious question.

Coulter makes the common error of assuming that Democrats and liberals are the same group. For example, she writes:

"Vietnam is the left's favorite war because America lost. Liberals never tire of citing it. Enragingly, liberals talk about Vietnam as if it proves something about the use of force generally rather than the Democrats' own bungling incompetence in military affairs. Historical accounts of the Vietnam War are incomprehensible because liberals refuse to admit the failure of their own national security strategy."

"With Vietnam, it took a while for the anti-war movement to get going. Now we have an instant sedition lobby."

You have probably noticed that the author bypasses the fact that Republican President Nixon made policy during most of the Vietnam War, including the month that the Viet Cong chased the Americans out of Saigon. But that is not her major error. It's more significant that she is assuming incorrectly that that President Lyndon Johnson, because he was a Democrat, can therefore be cited as a general example of a liberal. While Johnson was a liberal relative to anti-poverty programs and the civil right movement, he was ultra-conservative on the issue of military opposition to Communism. Since Coulter holds incorrectly that "Democrat" and "liberal" are synonyms, she has no vocabulary to permit her to comprehend these distinctions.

(When I write the word Communism in this article, I mean, of course, so-called Communism. No country on earth has ever tried genuine Communism, i.e., a classless management system democratically controlled by workers' organizations. For the sake of flowing text, I will omit the qualifier "so-called" in what follows.)

Table of Contents
Treason : Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism , by Ann Coulter
  
1. FIFTY YEARS OF TREASON
2. ALGER HISS -- LIBERAL DARLING
3. NO COMMUNISTS HERE!
4. THE INDISPENSABLE JOE MCCARTHY
5. VICTIMS OF MCCARTHYISM -- THE LIBERALS' MAYFLOWER
6. BUT WERE THERE COMMUNISTS IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT?
7. VIETNAM : OH, HOW THEY MISS SAIGON
8. HOW TRUMAN WON THE COLD WAR DURING THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION
9. LIBERALS IN LOVE : MASH NOTES TO THE KREMLIN
10. COLD WAR EPITAPH : THE HISS AFFAIR AT THE END OF THE COLD WAR
11. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN HAD HIS REASONS, TOO
12. NORTH KOREA - ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TREASON FOR SURRENDER
13. CELEBRITY TRAITORS : "NOW THAT I'M SOBER I WATCH A LOT OF NEWS"
14. MODERN MCCARTHYISM : THIS IS WHAT IT MEANT IN THE FIFTIES, TOO
CONCLUSION

Much of Treason deals with what the author calls "the myth of McCarthyism." which, of course, "liberals invented." (Reference: My review of Arthur Herman's biography of Senator Joseph McCarthy.)

In the 1950s, what began with the McCarthy's effort to identify Soviet spies employed in the U.S. State Department quickly grew into a general paranoia that anyone who complains about anything must be a Communist. If you were overheard to mention corporate greed, of if you supported a labor union, or if you heard to remark that you'd like to see an end to nuclear weapons, you would surely and quickly be labeled. Not only were you going to be labeled a Communist, but any employer who might offer you a job was also a labeled a Communist (and none would offer you a job, therefore), and anyone who dared to say publicly that such a blacklist was unjust was also labeled a Communist. Ironically, the United States found itself mirroring the same environment of abject fear that was characteristic of Communism.

The records of that repressive era are clear and complete. Coulter insist that the repression of innocent people never happened; it is a "myth" that was "invented" by "liberals." It's not easy to find a book so poorly researched while having such a lengthy bibliography.

To prove her assertion, the author offers the obvious fact that there were, indeed, some Soviet spies in the U.S. (See chapters 2, 6, et. al.). That fact is irrelevant to the author's minor premise that McCarthyism didn't persecute any innocent people, and irrelevant to her major premise that all liberals hate America.

The initial excuse for McCarthyism was the effort to identify Americans selling confidential military documents to the KGB, but that's not what it was really about. The true essence of McCarthyism was the government imposing penalties on its citizens merely because of their voiced opinions, and the government's introduction of a guilty-until-proven-innocent judicial process. What is Coulter's position on that unfortunate tendency? Her answer, in her own words, is: "McCarthy was accused of labeling 'anyone with liberal views' a Communist. As we now know, that wouldn't have been a half-bad system."

Buried in the abundant gibberish, Coulter occasionally raises a few points that merit serious discussion. She then fails to consider the several facets to them. In Chapter 14, for example, she supports the use of racial profiling by law enforcement. While presenting the case that the method is necessary, she fails to address the importance of avoiding a widespread persecution of innocent people:

"Meanwhile, 100 percent of the terrorist attacks on commercial airlines based in America for twenty years have been committed by Muslims. When there is a 100 percent chance, it ceases to be a profile. It's called a 'description of the suspect.' This is not a psychological judgment about an ethnic group - it is an all points bulletin: Warning! The next terrorist to board a commercial flight in the United States will be a Muslim."

And, we might add, vastly more than 99.9 percent of the Muslims taking American airplanes are not terrorists. What about preserving respect for their human dignity? Sadly, you won't find a consideration of that matter in the book.

To outline just a few of the forms of shallowness we can find in Ann Coulter's latest book :

-- She uses what I think of as modular plug-in arguments, remarks that are so vague that a debater can thoughtlessly snap them into a a debate at will, in the absense of something meaningful to say: "Conservatives believe man was created in God's image; liberals believe they are God."

-- She artificially and incoherently glues together unrelated thoughts, as though some connection between them were obvious: "A large segment of American women have traded faith in the Supreme Being for faith in gun control laws and day care centers."

-- She cannot tolerate the thought that others can come to different conclusions about events, and yet be reasonable human beings: "If liberals ever admitted the Rosenbergs were guilty, they would have to admit that all those people protesting on their behalf - and warning of impending fascist tyranny in America - were total Communist stooges or complete idiots."

-- Most significantly, Coulter demonstrates that she doesn't know, even with some approximation, how the political theory of liberalism is defined. She uses the term "liberal" merely as an all-purpose synonym for refering to any unreasonable position: "Whether they are rooting for the atheistic regimes of Stalin and Mao, satanic suicide bombers and terrorists, or the Central Park rapists, liberals always take the side of savages against civilization."

Having so many traitors our midst must present a problem. If Coulter is right, we seem to be wasting time even at this moment. We had better get busy if we're going to press the government into rounding up a hundred million Americans so they can be shot by firing squads. With such a big task ahead, why are we squandering precious time by reading?

Book review and editorial opinion by Mike Lepore, owner of crimsonbird.com

Treason : Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism by Ann Coulter
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Hardcover - 368 pages
Published by Crown Forum
ISBN 1400050308

Book Description from the Publisher

"Liberals' loyalty to the United States is off-limits as a subject of political debate. Why is the relative patriotism of the two parties the only issue that is out of bounds for rational discussion?"

In a stunning follow-up to her number one bestseller Slander , leading conservative pundit Ann Coulter contends that liberals have been wrong on every foreign policy issue, from the fight against Communism at home and abroad, the Nixon and the Clinton presidencies, and the struggle with the Soviet empire right up to today's war on terrorism. "Liberals have a preternatural gift for always striking a position on the side of treason," says Coulter. "Everyone says liberals love America, too. No, they don't." From Truman to Kennedy to Carter to Clinton, America has contained, appeased, and retreated, often sacrificing America's best interests and security. With the fate of the world in the balance, liberals should leave the defense of the nation to conservatives.

Reexamining the sixty-year history of the Cold War and beyond -- including the career of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Whittaker Chambers - Alger Hiss affair, Ronald Reagan's challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," the Gulf War, and our present war on terrorism -- Coulter reveals how liberals have been horribly wrong in all their political analyses and policy prescriptions. McCarthy, exonerated by the Venona Papers if not before, was basically right about Soviet agents working for the U.S. government. Hiss turned out to be a high-ranking Soviet spy (who consulted Roosevelt at Yalta). Reagan, ridiculed throughout his presidency, ended up winning the Cold War. And George W. Bush, also an object of ridicule, has performed exceptionally in responding to America's newest threats at home and abroad.

Coulter, who in Slander exposed a liberal bias in today's media , also examines how history, especially in the latter half of the twentieth century, has been written by liberals and, therefore, distorted by their perspective. Far from being irrelevant today, her clearheaded and piercing view of what we've been through informs us perfectly for challenges today and in the future.

With Slander , Ann Coulter became the most recognized and talked-about conservative intellectual of the year. Treason , in many ways an even more controversial and prescient book, will ignite impassioned political debate at one of the most crucial moments in our history.

Treason : Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism by Ann Coulter
The current price of the book at amazon.com is indicated to the right ...
The BUY button will add this book to your amazon.com shopping cart
If the price and BUY button are not shown, please click here
Hardcover - 368 pages
Published by Crown Forum
ISBN 1400050308