and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
August #2

Coulter off base on some things, to the point on others
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, August 10, 2006

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 Liberalism."

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 don't reproduce?"

"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 statements."

"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.