Sunday, February 15, 2009

SPLC vs. Ann Coulter

Note how Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center lays on the modifiers:
Rabid far-right commentator Ann Coulter is known across America for sliming everyone and everything she disagrees with. . . .
Coulter has generally avoided bolstering white supremacist hate groups. Until now, that is.
In her latest foaming-mouth tome -- Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America, released on Jan. 6 -- Coulter spends the better part of three pages defending a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which The New York Times had described as a "thinly veiled white supremacist organization." Coulter begs to differ. The CCC, Coulter opines, is "a conservative group" that has unfairly been branded as racist "because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group."
"Rabid far-right" -- in what sense can that term be applied to Ann Coulter but not to, say, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Mark Steyn, Michelle Malkin or Mark Levin? And "her latest foaming-mouth tome" -- her sixth bestseller, which you can buy right now and see for yourself whether it merits that description.

Beyond Potok's frothy prose, what is worth examining here is the application of what a friend of mine who's been smeared by the SPLC (we are legion) has called their "ransom note method" of quotation: A phrase here, half a sentence there -- the words are cut and pasted together like a kidnapper assembling a ransom note from cut-up magazines, with the SPLC's own interpretative comments helpfully interlarded to tell their readers exactly what to think about the target.

The fundamental premise of Potok's piece -- that Coulter was "bolstering" or "defending" the CCC -- is false. For that matter, her putative "defense" of the CCC doesn't occupy "the better part of three pages," but actually less than two, beginning on the middle of page 24 and ending at the top of page 26.

What Coulter is actually doing in this passage -- is Mark Potok dishonest or merely dense? -- is contrasting the differing treatment that the media gave to (a) Barack Obama's 20-year membership in the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ, and (b) the CCC associations of Republicans Trent Lott and Bob Barr.

It's quite an interesting argument and perhaps the reason Potok couldn't bring himself to quote so much as two consecutive complete sentences of what Coulter wrote is that he's worried about copyright infringement. Or maybe he's dishonest, an interpretation supported by the way he quotes Coulter here:
"There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation," she says. "Apart from some aggressive reporting on black-on-white crimes -- the very crimes that are aggressively hidden by the establishment media -- there is little on the CCC website suggesting" that the group is racist. [Emphasis added.]
Contrast that to what Coulter actually wrote:

There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation, though its "Statement of Principles" offers that the organization opposes "forced integration" and "efforts to mix the races of mankind." But mostly the principles refer to subjects such as a strong national defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional family, and an "America First" trade policy.
Apart from some aggressive reporting on black-on-white crimes -- the very crimes that are aggressively hidden by the establishment media -- there is little on the CCC website suggesting that the group is a "thinly veiled white supremacist" organization, as the New York Times called it in one of its more charitable descriptions. At least the crimes reported on the CCC's Web site actually happened, as opposed to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's claim that the U.S. government invented AIDS to kill black people. [Emphasis added]
Compare the two italicized passages. Notice that, when Potok quotes Coulter, the direct quote ends with "suggesting," and then follows with Potok's own characterization, "that the group is racist"; whereas Coulter's actual sentence ends with a specific description from the New York Times calling the CCC a "thinly veiled white supremacist" organization. One can be "racist" without being "white supremacist" (ask Reverend Wright!), and as to the matter of the thinness of veils -- well, as a liberal might say, "Who are we to judge?"

In a fair-and-balanced "we report, you decide" manner, Coulter quotes the CCC's statements about "forced integration" and race-mixing and leaves it to the reader to judge how "thinly veiled" these principles are, and whether they are "white supremacist" -- a judgment that the New York Times apparently doesn't trust its readers to make for themselves. It is neither here nor there what the reader's judgment is, since Coulter's purpose is not to "defend" or "bolster" the CCC, but rather to expose the media double standard involved.

Reverend Wright can stand in his pulpit denouncing Israel, shouting "God damn America!" and saying that the 9/11 attacks were "America's chickens coming home to roost," and the media dismisses as insignificant the fact that Obama spent 20 years in Wright's congregation. Yet Bob Barr gave exactly one speech at a CCC meeting and this speech (which had nothing to do with race) is treated as major political news by the New York Times. Perhaps if Barr had spoken to a meeting of Weather Underground terrorists . . .

Never mind. Coulter describes the consequences of the media attack on Barr:

After the initial flurry of articles, editorials, and news stories in the Times excitedly reporting that Barr had spoken to the CCC, Democratic representative Bob Wexler introduced a resolution in Congress for the sole purpose of denouncing the Council of Conservative Citizens. Other than the 9/11 terrorists, the CCC may be the only group ever singled out for denunciation in a congressional resolution. How about a resolution from Obama pom-pom girl Wexler on Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ?
When Barr later gave a speech on the House floor favorably citing President John F. Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy's son, Representative Patrick Kennedy, got in Barr's face, shouting, "How dare you! Anybody who has been in a racist group has no right invoking my uncle's memory!" Liberals are now reserving the right to tell us which former presidents we can mention by name.
Barr had given a speech to a group that, even assuming everything the Southern Poverty Law Center says about it is true, does not hold a candle to the racism of Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ. Obama was married by the Reverend Wright, his daughters were baptized by the Reverend Wright, Obama gave his second autobiography the title of one of the Reverend Wright's sermons. And yet after decades of majoring in Guilt By Association, liberals were indignant when an ad on cable television linked Obama and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. The Times produced a blistering editorial decrying the "hate mongering" and calling the ads "the product of a radical fringe that has little regard for rational debate."
"Compare and contrast" -- the kind of exercise every college freshman is asked to do on essay-question exams -- and yet, when Coulter does it, her choice of the CCC as an analog to Wright's church is cited by the SPLC as evidence that she is a sympathizer of a "thinly veiled white supremacist" organization.

What Potok and the SPLC count on is that their gullible liberal readership will not bother to examine what Coulter actually wrote, nor question whether the SPLC's bawdlerization of Coulter's work is fair or accurate. Potok understands that Coulter occupies a special place in the liberal demonology, and that liberals are prepared to believe the worst about her. So he distorts her argument -- which, I repeat, is about media double standards -- into an accusation that she is "defending" and "bolstering" the CCC, and expects no one to contradict him.

Why? Because Potok suspects conservatives of cowardice. If you defend Ann Coulter, you'll be accused of sharing her "thinly veiled" sympathies, and there goes your book deal, there goes your think-tank fellowship, there goes your chance at a staff job in the next Republican administration. Potok believes that your ambition, your cowardly craving to be considered "respectable," will prevent you from defending the "rabid far-right" Coulter, and you will remain silent while she's dishonestly smeared by the SPLC.

Fine. You have the right to remain silent. And who will defend you when the SPLC comes smearing you?
But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted
freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone!
-- Edmund Burke

UPDATE: Linked by Kathy Shaidle, who's been trying for years to get Canada to deport her to the United States, where that pesky First Amendment keeps hobbling the annihilationist impulses of liberalism.

UPDATE II: Linked by Mark Steyn, likewise seeking deportation. Canadian refugee fever inspires some awesome political incorrectness.

UPDATE III: Linked by Ed Driscoll, who probably wants to be deported from California.

UPDATE IV: Somebody at LGF sides with the SPLC.

UPDATE V: Getting very interesting now. Raphael Alexander says that Charles (by whom I suppose he means Charles Johnson of LGF) says of what I've written: "That article is ludicrous and deceptive. He claims Coulter is being quoted out of context -- I have the book, and she is NOT being quoted out of context. The charge, by the way, is not that Coulter herself is a white supremacist. It's that she is defending a blatantly, openly white supremacist group -- and that charge is TRUE."

I couldn't find that quote at LGF, which is now at the 1,000+ mark in comments, but assuming that Alexander's quote is accurate, I'm kind of stumped. The extensive quotes from Coulter's book make clear that her argument was basically: If Trent Lott and Bob Barr are beyond the pale for their associations with the CCC, why isn't Obama beyond the pale for his association with Trinity? It's not about being "out of context," but rather that Potok misread (or misrepresented) the whole purpose of that two-page passage.

Is Coulter "defending" Jeremiah Wright? Is the analogy inexact? Surely she will clarify and is capable of defending her own arguments without any help from me, but I saw this passage as essentially a critique of the media double standard.

In every previous Coulter controversy (which, by now, is a long list), she has emerged undamaged. She has Sean Hannity on speed-dial, and if this SPLC thing gets her more TV time, she'll cry all the way to the bank.

What's weird is that Coulter appeared on "The View" a month ago and I don't recall that this CCC thing ever came up. Is Whoopi Goldberg OK with the CCC? Certainly Coulter would agree to return to "The View" to discuss the subject. She would also probably be willing to discuss the subject on "Today," "Larry King Live," "60 Minutes," Leno, Letterman, "Saturday Night Live," "American Idol" . . . if any other TV producers want to book Ann, I can give you her publicist's e-mail address.

UPDATE VI: Linked at Conservative Grapevine.


  1. Stacy, it's no wonder you couldn't stop yourself from writing all about this particular subject. You, yourself, are a racist motherfucking asshole. Don't you have a Klan meeting to attend or something???

  2. Southern Poverty Law Center is an odd name for a non-profit group that had a total of $200 Million in the bank and in investments at the end of 2007.

    This group may have been worthy and needed at one time but it has devolved into a money tree for Potok and his pals. IMO.

    BTW I have been meaning to buy Coulter's book so I will get it here at your blog. Thanks.

  3. Coulter writes:

    Other than the 9/11 terrorists, the CCC may be the only group ever singled out for denunciation in a congressional resolution.

    That's either ignorant or transparently dishonest. Remember September 2007, when both houses of congress passed resolutions denouncing MoveOn over the Petraeus/Betray Us ad?

  4. Has to be the weakest argument for Coulter I've ever read. "I'm racist but then again THEY'RE racist too", eh? And I'm no fan of the SPLC either at any rate...

  5. Jeez, how can I get me some of this SPLC smearing action? Sounds hawt!

    The best I can manage up here in terms of ransom note semi-libel is this:

    Some Canadians gotta go to the US to get a 'real' career. Looks like I'm gonna have to go to the States to get mine well and truly ended!!

    Won't someone please snag me a frickin' Green Card already?

  6. Southern Intellectual Poverty Law Center.
    "We be too broke to think, and stuff."

  7. Aside from enriching Morris Dees, I'm not acquainted with a "purpose" for SPLC's existence.

    Although they ARE quite anti-Catholic...

  8. LJP - you (like the SPLC) completely missed the point - which is the media double standard for racism. Coulter doesn't try to defend the CCC - she basically acknowledges that there is a racist taint to it. Her point is that a casual, one-time encounter with the "right-wing" racist group is treated as a horrible stain on the reputation of a public figure (Barr), but an in-depth, 20-year-long relationship with a "left-wing" racist group should not have any impact on the reputation of another public figure (Obama). The whole point was the media double standard, not whether the CCC is a racist organization.

    If you want, I can send you some links to online classes in logic and reasoning. Seems you might have missed those.

  9. Dear GOP08_DOA: Thanks for clarifying the liberal position. BTW, are you a Republican plant? Surely, no progressive would ever be as foul-mouthed as you are.

  10. Southern Intellectual ???

    I thought in the world of progressives this was an oxymoron?

    I know Peace Officer is now. How? The only peace they hand out is to Islamists over there victims.

    Particularly Jews as we have seen to our shame in the last few weeks.

    "Annie get your Gun" ( I mean that as a compliment) must be on the right track. Its when the world loves you in this era, that you have to wonder if your on the side of devils.

    The haters of Mankind & free speech, if not freedom of self. Always get to say what they want. No hate speech laws for this crew. Its us they want to shut up.

    Great post. I love to see the hypocrisy of the Collectivists in action. For people so squeamish of words or others ideas as being offensive. They don't mind spewing racist gibberish at anyone else. No matter how vile the bias or innuendo. Facts & actions of course are not expectable to them . Only feelings with emotions as values with the latest political fad.

    They couldn’t walk in Coulters shadow. She at least has the courage of her convictions. The “progressives” only ooze out lies dipped in the paint of evasion.

  11. Its not only liberals who think this way. PhD Clouthier on "Rightwing News" commented how she thought jailing so many black criminals, for crimes they really committed, was a racist act.

    Apologists for black criminals are everywhere.

  12. Yeah, like the 'reasoning' behind praising Joseph McCarthy. I think collectivists hiding behind 'conservatism' such as yourself will use every trick of the book to defend the undefendable such as Coulter and the CCC for that matter...

    I'm not as stupid as you think. I think Coulter was doing more than just exposing a double standard. Or else she just used an extremely poor example. (Poor Ann!) I still think your defense of Coulter is weak, and I don't think anti-nazi groups are going to stand for it any way you try to spin this around.

  13. Really now, I must be a 'retard' just because I don't have a high-falluting degree in 'reason' -- the reason that your own racism isn't as bad as black people's racism. Racism is racism and racism is collectivist, not conservative.

    Incidently you can take your college degree and shove it, 'cos your whole argument is weak.

  14. Oh and another thing, at least Obama cut ties with Rev. Wright. I've yet to hear Bob Barr cut ties with the CCC or even condemn that organisation...

  15. The SPLC lost my support (and my yearly contributions) years ago. Their rabid anti-evangelical Christian, anti-conservative rhetoric was a real turnoff, especially considering their mandate. The media's double-standards and bias are now crystal clear. The bias of representatives within the SPLC is clear as well. Both the media and organizations such as the SPLC need to change to regain lost contributors and readers, unless they are perfectly happy with their current level of funding and profit margins.

  16. Such a lovely case of circular reasoning you have never seen before:

    " At least two hate groups — Stormfront and the Council of Conservative Citizens — said their websites crashed because of heavy traffic."

    The Council of Conservative Citizens says their website is slow (or maybe crashed) because of all the controversy ginned up over Ann Coulter.

    Who made up the controversy over Ann Coulter, thereby causing the curious like me to check out the Council of Conservative Citizens website? The Southern Poverty Law Center which is now using the CCC website traffic as evidence that racist groups are on the rise.

    I'm almost inclined to think the SPLC invented the Ann Coulter controversy by deliberately missing her point just so they could write their article about the resurgence of "white power" groups.

  17. Ann Coulter has a problem. She could give away fifty IQ points, forget to put on makeup and go out in yesterday's sweats, do half the typical amount of work on a book....and she'd still be smarter, prettier, and more hard-working than most of her 'allies' and pretty much all of her enemies.

    She's also brave which is something many on the Right don't like because it shows them up.

    Jealousy is a fearful thing. Look all you right-wing pundits that take any chance to slam Ann, just admit it, you're not enough of a man, and the fact that Ann is a woman and can kick your teeth in makes you mad!

    This does not apply to the Other McCain who has the nobility to recognize greatness. Its the liberal way to tear down the great. We conservatives should be glad for examples of personal greatness. They serve as inspiration and examples.

    We should try to be as genial and intuitively genius as Reagan, as creatively clever as Gingrich, as sharp-witted and brave as Coulter, and generous of spirit like the Other McCain. Instead, we will have those who decide not to aspire to greatness, but instead choose to tear it down to make themselves feel better about their pathetic qualities.


  18. You don't have a huge problem with the CCC.....shocker