An (Almost) Perfect Piece of Propaganda from Ann Coulter

Anatomy of a False Narrative

(A Primer in Propaganda)

[This feature is presented in my new book, Propaganda: George Orwell in the Age of Ann Coulter, available as a free download at www.coulterwatch.com/propaganda.pdf. A complete 14-page version is available at www.coulterwatch.com/files/anatomy.pdfDB]

Anatomy

Coulter’s second column attacking Christian missionaries is a study in propaganda. In it, Coulter employs a variety of Orwellian techniques, speaks authoritatively, and uses a wide range of humor to good effect. Those unfamiliar with Scripture and the teachings of Jesus could very easily be deceived. Others could be repelled from the gospel of Christ because of her words.

Here, we expose the deception and provide an anatomy of her false narrative. Consider this a primer in propaganda. Coulter used humor throughout her column to mock her critics and delegitimize their criticisms.

Opening Gambits

Coulter began her narrative with a paraphrase of Scripture, cleverly turning a well-known statement from Jesus into a defense of herself. Her essay title: “Let He Who is Without Ebola Cast the First Stone” hearkens back to one of the most poignant accounts in the Gospels.

The Pharisees wanted to stone to death a woman caught in adultery and Jesus defended her, saying, “Let him that is without sin among you first cast the stone at her (John 8:7).” Immediately – in her essay title alone – Coulter cast her critics as Pharisees and herself as the one defended by Jesus. Just as Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, Coulter rebukes her critics.

(Oh, by the way, it was Coulter who actually threw stones.)[1]

Technique # 1: Frame the Narrative

But back to Coulter’s essay and its lead paragraph: “There was some hubbub about my column last week, where I complained about Christians, like Dr. Kent Brantly, who abandon America to do much-praised work in Third World countries.”

Using a less poetic version of the Bard’s famous line from Macbeth,[2] “full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” Coulter diminished the extent of the controversy concerning her previous column by using a colloquialism to describe it: “hubbub.” Coulter then took the offensive, accusing the missionary of deserting his country for self-glory. Already Coulter contrasted two themes: an inconsequential hubbub over her innocent words and the sinister actions of false Christians.

Coulter, in effect, turned a Christian virtue into treason – and she conflated the gospel with patriotism (and conservatism).[3]

Technique # 2: Ignore Inconvenient Truths (e.g., “memory hole”)

Next, Coulter again diminished her own wrong behavior, dismissing the very notion there was anything at all to criticize, and she contrasted that with the alleged wrongdoing of her critics.

“I planned to respond to my critics this week, but, unfortunately, there’s nothing to respond to. They call me names, say I’m cruel, malicious, not a Christian, compare me to Howard Stern and cite the titles of my books as if they are self-refuting. (Zippy, aren’t they?)”

Coulter dismissed those names she was called – “cruel,” “malicious,” “not a Christian,” etc. – as if they were not accurate. Many would contend they are correct!

As you can see, Coulter also defended her books and praised their titles: “zippy” – a word she has employed many times to that end. For instance, during her Demonic book tour, when she asked, “Zippy titles, aren’t they?”[4] But don’t those very titles – Slander, Treason, Godless, Guilty, Demonic – suggest some measure of name-calling by Coulter – the very thing she is condemning?

Next, Coulter further suggested the voluminous criticism she has received from Christians and conservatives over her anti-missionary column is actually comparable to what she receives from liberals attacking her books upon their release:

“In other words, it feels like a book tour.”

In just eight short words, humorously conveyed, Coulter completely dismissed the substantive charges of her critics. She also reminded her readers that she is a perennial victim of the Left, during (and between) book tours. Further, Coulter subtly suggested that all of her Christian critics are liberals (and, therefore, in her eyes at least, not really Christians at all).

Note that Coulter used humor throughout to defuse the seriousness of the charges against her, to show herself in a positive light, and to attack her opponents.

SNIP

Go and Sin No More

Coulter began her column alluding to the biblical account of the woman caught in adultery. Overlooked in her column, in her career, and in her life, is Jesus’ exhortation to that woman he saved from stoning: “Go and sin no more.”

Coulter boasts of being forgiven by God but displays no fruit of repentance. The fruit of the Spirit – as attested to by many this past summer alone – is seemingly not evident in Coulter’s life and work.

Jesus exhortation – “Go and sin no more” – requires repentance. Without repentance, there is no forgiveness. Certainly, this (almost) perfect piece of propaganda by Ann Coulter displays not a smidgeon of repentance.

Returning to Wehner’s wise words, he wrote:

“Most people, having written something so uncharitable about someone who has contracted a usually lethal disease in the service of others – having written a column whose words were meant to wound and ridicule – would be embarrassed by it. Ms. Coulter seems intent on wanting to highlight it. I’m happy to assist her in that effort. Let her columns on Dr. Brantly become an enduring testimony to her work, a window into her heart.”

“Mother Teresa went to Calcutta to serve a God whose highest calling includes serving the weak and suffering wherever they are found. That is something that Ann Coulter not only doesn’t understand; it’s something she finds offensive. Which tells you much of what you need to know about her.”

[For the remainder of this analysis, see my new book, Propaganda: George Orwell in the Age of Ann Coulter, available as a free download at www.coulterwatch.com/propaganda.pdf. A complete 14-page version is available at www.coulterwatch.com/files/anatomy.pdfDB]

Endnotes:

[1]       Coulter could not have been oblivious to the fact that the missionary she condemned had contracted Ebola. That was the impetus for her first column and the whole point of her essay title – highlighting his illness. Continuing to mock him, was she also suggesting that – as the one with Ebola – only he was in a position to cast the first stone? As a Christian, would he do so? But, in keeping with her own argument, if Coulter did not have Ebola, what right did Coulter have to criticize the missionary to begin with?

[2]       Coulter should bear in mind Shakespeare turn of phrase in Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much.” Coulter’s rebuttal was an unusually long 1,301 words.

[3]       Indeed, throughout this century, Coulter has equated Christianity with Conservatism, claiming there are no liberal Christians. See The Gospel According to Ann Coulter, 2011, at www.coulterwatch.com/gospel.pdf.

[4]       Ann Coulter, In Depth, C-Span, 8/7/11.

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2 thoughts on “An (Almost) Perfect Piece of Propaganda from Ann Coulter

  1. The very crux of your writing whilst appearing agreeable initially, did not
    settle properly with me personally after some time. Someplace within the sentences you actually managed to make me a believer but only for a while.

    I nevertheless have got a problem with your leaps in assumptions and you would do nicely to help fill in those breaks. In the event that you actually can accomplish that, I would definitely end up being fascinated.

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