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Book Review: Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America by Ann Coulter

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You can love her, or you can hate her, but either way, Ann Coulter always makes a compelling argument for the side of modern Conservatism. In her new book, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America, she advances the idea that modern liberalism find its strength in a type of mob mentality.

She references the works of Gustave Le Bon, a nineteenth-century French psychologist and sociologist, as a basis for her allegations. Le Bon wrote numerous books on social psychology and human behavior including The Crowd (1895) and The Psychology of Socialism (1896). Coulter refers to Le Bon as the “father of mob psychology.” She makes the point that Adolf Hitler derived many of his propagandist ideas in “Mein Kampf” from the techniques cited in Le Bon’s books about crowd psychology and mob dynamics.

Coulter may use incendiary rhetoric: “The demon is a mob, and the mob is demonic. The Democratic Party activates mobs, depends on mobs, coddles mobs, publicizes and celebrates mobs — it is the mob.” But she has written a heavily footnoted book, which delineates her assertions in coherent and sequential arguments.

Demonic is divided into four main sections and is rife with historical accounts and anecdotes which support her claims in chapters such as: “American Idols: The Mob’s Compulsion to Create Messiahs,” and “Contraditions: You Can Lead a Mob To Water But You Can’t Make It Think.”

“Part 1:The Psychology of the Liberal,” draws upon the works of Le Bon, as well as contemporary stories and research, to explain why certain individuals, usually those who identify themselves as liberals, are suceptible to the pitfalls of a mob mentality.  Her examples range from the New Testament to the current “birther” controversy. On page seven she charges that, “Conservatives don’t cotton to slogans … By contrast, liberals thrive on jargon as a substitute for thought.”

The acceptance of the unacceptable, like the threatening behavior by members of the New Black Panthers outside a Pennsylvania voting center in 2008, by liberals, Coulter postulates, can only come from a mob-mentality in which the crowd becomes an organism that reacts, not to reason or ideas, but to images and slogans. “Bush Lied, Kids Died,” “No Justice No Peace,” “Hope and Change,” (pg 6) are examples of such slogans which seem to have the power to whip the Liberal mind into a frenzy.

In Part 2 of the book: “The Historical Context of the Liberal,” Coulter uses the events of the French and the American Revolutions to demonstrate the contrast in approaches and outcomes used by mobs vs. statesmen and Minutemen. The mobs which rampaged through Paris, and in the end had executed some 600,000 Frenchmen, are contrasted with the Revolutionaries in the English Colonies who pushed back against a tyrannical king, not with pikes and guillotines, but with documents, pamphlets, and a citizen militia. Reason and action vs. mobthink and death.

The tactics used by the Jacobins of the French Revolution are compared with those of modern liberals. Mobs would be incited through slogans and fear mongering. The policies and governing style of the rulers were not argued but their characters and reputations were smeared through widespread rumors. The Christian Churches of France were targeted in an effort to destroy the faith of its citizens. The physical structures were secularized, and the leaders of the Church were mocked and defiled. Religious marriages and funerals were discouraged and citizens were forced to drop their Christian names. (pp 119-120) “This,” says Coulter, “was not the American Revolution. This was the revolution of a mob.” And she compares this history with the efforts by atheist groups and the ACLU to remove religion in America from the public square.

About Marjorie Haun

  • http://oakhaus.blogspot.com Bill Sherman

    “Conservatives don’t cotton to slogans”? C’mon, sloganeering has been a part of American politics since “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” (Here’s page of placard ready slogans offered by the Tea Party.) As usual, Coulter turns a willful blind eye to the excesses of her own side so she can focus on her cherry-picked examples from the left.

  • Marjorie Haun

    Is there a difference between a rallying cry and a slogan? “Give me Liberty or Give me Death,” was actually said by a patriot during a time of crisis. It has a philosophical foundation. What the heck does “Hope and Change” mean?

  • Costello

    Coulter succeeds because she excels at tapping into the beliefs of her small-minded readers, using those as her end points and then working backwards to prove them. Anyone who thinks both sides don’t use the same tactics, use slogans or behave as a mob are woefully uninformed

  • Baronius

    We all know the arguments of our side, so we can refer to a whole book or article with a couple of words. That of course sounds like sloganeering to the other side. It’s a natural thing.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Is there a difference between a rallying cry and a slogan?

    No, not really. That’s what a political slogan is. Whether it has a “philosophical foundation” or not, it’s a simplistic statement designed to rally support.

    A few recent “conservative” examples:

    “Mission accomplished”
    “No amnesty for illegals”
    “Taxed Enough Already”
    “The change you deserve”
    “The party of fiscal responsibility”
    “Support the troops”
    “Stay the course”
    “Country first”
    “Read my lips – no new taxes”

    Etc etc etc…

  • zingzing

    when a conservative offers up their understanding of the liberal mindset, don’t take it as gospel, marjorie.

    when coulter says something like “liberals thrive on jargon as a substitute for thought,” a little alarm bell ought to go off in your head. what is that but jargon as substitute for thought anyway? coulter is just playing to what you want to hear. think about it for a moment.

  • Baronius

    I’m telling you, it’s not a conservative/liberal thing. It’s the way any one side appears to the opposite side.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Exactly, Herr Baron. As far as Marjorie is concerned, if a conservative says it it’s a rallying cry; if a liberal says it it’s a slogan.

  • Baronius

    I dunno. We both agree that slogans don’t allow for much nuance. Likewise, Marjorie’s comment has too few words to allow me to delve the depths of her soul.

  • Marjorie Haun

    I have written on the “Arrested Development of the Left,” and referenced Erickson’s Stages of Emotional Development as a framework for my assertion that many people with a liberal mindset are “stuck” in one of the developmental stages of childhood. My research for those pieces has aligned very much with what Coulter says in “Demonic.” There are many Conservatives who are mystified by the double standards, dishonesty and intolerance of other modes of thought that seems to be so common in modern liberalism.

  • Dan

    No, I think Coulter makes her point about liberal “mobs” reliance on slogans in place of logic and reason. Here is a passage from the book where Ann brilliantly captures the liberal elites management of their ignorant hordes understanding of the recent financial crisis:

    “Based on their public commentary, it appears that not one liberal has the vaguest idea how the economy imploded. The only thing liberals know is– as President Obama explained– “Republicans drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No! You can’t drive, We don’t want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out.”…

    …A liberal would stare at you slack-jawed if you explained that the federal government, via Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, forced politically correct lending policies on the banks– policies that were attacked by Republicans but ferociously defended by Democrats– and that the banks’ suicidal loans were then bundled into mortgage-backed securities and dispersed throughout the entire financial system, which poisoned the economy bringing down powerful institutions, such as Lehman Brothers, and destroying innumerable families’ financial portfolios.

    In light of the Democrats’ direct role in creating policies at the heart of the nation’s financial collapse, it’s not surprising that they prefer metaphors to facts. What’s strange is that the image of a car in a ditch is sufficient for the bulk of Democratic voters and commentators to adjudge themselves experts on the economic crisis and refuse to listen to explanations that aren’t images of Bush driving a car into a ditch”— Ann Coulter

    I think the most interesting feature of the new book is the contrast and comparison of the American and French Revolutions as they correspond to conservative and progressive ideology.

    Marjories review is helpful as a general overview, but this work is deep and inspective to psychological ideologic motivation. In this way, I think it is Coulters best work yet.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Are Conservatives mystified by their own double standards, dishonesty and intolerance of other modes of thought?

    Does Ann mention elsewhere in the book about how the housing industry blew up the market in their dogged pursuit of more and more profits? Or does she and her followers yet again ignore the whole story when it conflicts with their agenda.

    I think I know the answer, but I can hope, can’t I?

  • zingzing

    ann coulter presents a theory of the economic downturn that leaves republicans completely innocent. it’s no wonder dan and other republicans would find that so appealing. it doesn’t make it true. really, that description she gives reads as rather simple, doesn’t it? that’s because she leaves out a whole shitload of stuff and places all motivations in terms republicans are used to attacking. yes, ann and dan, it was political correctness. it’s just that simple.

  • Dan

    “Does Ann mention elsewhere in the book about how the housing industry blew up the market in their dogged pursuit of more and more profits?”—El bicho

    Ah, you mean the “unbridled corporate greed” slogan. No, she doesn’t mention that.

  • Dan

    Marjorie, I would be interested to read what you have written about the “Arrested Development of the left”, but I can’t seem to find it on your author page. Would you please direct?

    Thanks

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Ask the former employees of Pulte Homes in the Southern California region if it was just a slogan? You know, the people who got to see it up close as opposed to someone desperately not wanting their worldview disrupted by facts.