Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On the allure of Coulter to her coultists

The NYT on the appeal of the wicked witch of the right:
All manner of televised talkfests, including "Today," welcome Ms. Coulter's pirate sensibilities back aboard whenever she has something to peddle, in part because seeing hate-speech pop out of a blonde who knows her way around a black cocktail dress makes for compelling viewing.
There is a fine line between playful irreverence and unacceptable incivility. Ms. Coulter has never seen this line, for she dwells far away, in a castle staffed by winged monkeys.

Political correctness has become something of bugaboo (I instantly regret using this term, suggestive, as it is, that p.c.ness is some phantasm rather than a real phenomenon--but do read on) for modern conservatives. Dinesh D'Souza, a right-wing polemicist whom I respect immensely, brought this term back into currency, and rightly so. There is a certain amount (indeed, a very large amount) of stultifying political correctness that inhibits rational conversation about race, gender and sexuality. But this type of political correctness is wrong because it is stultifying, not because it is political correctness.

Political correctness itself is a very conservative notion. It simply holds that certain things are beyond civility, and shouldn't be mentioned in respectable company by respectable individuals. It expresses an ideal against purposeless transgression, which is the domain of the avant garde lefty. It is politically incorrect to use the words nigger or raghead (a favored term of Coulter's), and the conservative should embrace this political correctness, insofar as it is expressive of civility for the sake of civility--of a de-coarsening of society, a re-chivalrizing of norms.*

Coulter seems to exhibit the same sort of transgression for the sake of transgression that is usually found, as I said, in avant garde lefties, such as Karen Finley. Coulter breaks down the very civilized norms which conservatives should support.

*(Of course, it matters how one defines "political correctness." For many, the stultifying effect that political correctness can have on candid discussion about controversial issues, is built into the phrase "political correctness" itself. On such a definition of political correctness, then, indeed, most, if not all, political correctness would be harmful. However, my point about Ann Coulter's incivility in support of an ideological movement that supports civility, remains.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering, what is this post in response to? Your careful analysis of Ann's newest book? Her column? That inane interview with Matt Lower? The Treason Times? or just what you've heard?

12:14 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

Oh, just the random snippets of her work that reach me via whatever. Just a lifetime of casual acquaintance with her work: the odd column here, the incendiary remark there, and, probably most significantly, her disgraceful behavior with national review, a flagship publication in the conservative movement: http://www.nationalreview.com/nr_comment/nr_comment100301.shtml

11:33 AM  

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