After I finished "Desert Solitaire" by Edward Abbey,
I planned to read only fiction in my hammock this summer, including the
most recent paperbacks by favorite authors - Nelson DeMille, Michael
Connelly, Tom Wolfe, Colleen McCullough and Dean Koontz.
But then, late last month, I got the irresistible urge to read something
by Ann Coulter.
Maybe it was because someone suggested I'd been attending her "boot camp
retreats" and I sensed this was meant to be an insult, but felt I needed
more information. So I bought her latest book "Godless, the Church of
I had glanced at it earlier, when she was being attacked for writing
that a few activist 9/11 widows were enjoying their husbands' deaths too
much while taking the leftist lead in attacking George Bush. I would
never have said that (though similar uncharitable thoughts about
liberals occasionally cross my mind, even exit my mouth); but I found
myself laughing as she stood her ground and took on her critics on
various talk shows. I decided I should get the full context, but when I
read the book jacket and learned that she also attacks the theory of
evolution, I figured my book allowance could be better spent.
Ever since I read "Inherit the Wind" in college, not to mention seeing
the movie three times, evolution has been my favorite theory. Setting it
aside as basically proven, I moved on to serious books about
evolutionary biology, cognitive development and biological ethics by
Matt Ridle, William Shermer and MIT's Steven Pinker, now at Harvard.
The debate was not about creationism vs. evolution, but about nature vs.
nurture, and behaviorism vs. choice. My libertarian, freedom-oriented
philosophy was quite comfortable with the science authors' visions of
life and its meaning.
However, Coulter had some interesting, intelligent rebuttals to accepted
evolutionary theory and, unlike many opponents and proponents, my mind
is always open to new information. What most astonished me was learning
that "Inherit the Wind" was far from accurate history, and that the
Scopes Monkey Trial was a public relations creation meant to put the
town of Dayton, Tenn., on the map.
That'll teach me to get my history and science from the movies!
I'd be more impressed, however, if she had asked questions, rather than
clearly stating that evolution "is about one notch above Scientology in
scientific rigor." I checked out some of her attacks and found they were
as spurious as the liberals' arguments against intelligent design.
I would give my next year's book allowance to attend a debate between
Steven Pinker and Ann Coulter.
On other issues, I am comfortable with my agreement or disagreement with
Coulter. I am not a traditional Christian Conservative, as she is, and
can see the fallacy in some of her beliefs and broad generalizations.
But even so, I spent much of a weekend laughing out loud in my hammock.
Some favorite lines:
"If people are born gay, why hasn't Darwinism weeded out people who
"For liberals, a human life begins at the precise moment the person
starts filling out his first application for a government job."
"It's odd having the angry 9/11 widows fawned over by the same political
party that objects to crime victims' delivering victim impact
"There may be some advantages to being intelligent, but a lot of
liberals appear to have high IQs, so, really, what's the point?"
But it wasn't just Coulter's irreverent wit that made "Godless" worth
reading; it was her overall theme: That liberalism is itself a religion,
with its sacraments (abortion), its martyrs (Alger Hiss, convicted
murderers, low-paid public school teachers), churches (government
schools, where prayer is prohibited but condoms are free), and its own
cosmology (in which mankind is an inconsequential accident).
She's right! That's why it has always seemed somehow familiar to me! It
demands the same unquestioning belief from its members that the Catholic
Church wanted from me (and didn't get).
I agree with Coulter when she writes: "it's well past time for
liberalism to be declared a religion and banned from public schools."
Here's the bottom line relationship between me and Ann Coulter: The
enemy of my enemy is my friend. She may attack my beloved theory of
evolution and a secular society, but she also goes after liberals, the
teachers' unions, America-haters, and environmental hysterics; Mike
Dukakis and Willie Horton get a whole chapter for themselves.
Although accused of being outrageous just to sell books, Coulter is
clearly a believer in the Christian values she espouses; and suffering
fools gladly just isn't one of those values. If liberals didn't respond
with vocal outrage, people like me wouldn't have noticed her book at
all. Not too bright, her enemies.
I'm a stranger in a strange world, neither liberal nor conservative. I
want all religions, including liberalism, to leave me alone to continue
my pursuit of the truth, wherever it may be found.
I've decided that my God gave me a mind and told me to go forth and use
it. Thank you, God, for that gift: I'll try not to waste it on
unexamined belief, especially in liberal theology.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem
News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence
Journal and other newspapers.