Naomi Wolf’s latest book, Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love, has been proven to be fatally flawed. It’s entire foundational premises and “evidence” was recently proven wrong in the space of a very short interview.
Ann Coulter’s book, Demonic, suffers from similar, even more egregious flaws than those contained in Wolf’s book.
Demonic is replete with projection and the hallmarks of addictive thinking. Her assessment of and contrast between the American and French Revolutions is largely accurate, though hyperbolic, however, she conflates cause and effect. Her exclusive focus upon mob mentality ignores the far more important factors of the disparate ideological goals and spiritual milieus of the respective revolutions. The objective of the American Revolution was liberty; that of the French version was equality. The former was birthed in a Judeo-Christian environment; the latter in a secularized atheism.
Both revolutions had mobs (crowds). Ours sought freedom in a Christian environment; theirs pursued equality in an anti-religious (and anti-intellectual) one. By focusing exclusively on mob-like behavior, Coulter can condemn the motives and character of her targets. In acknowledging intended (noble) goals, she would have to concede to a certain degree hearts that are not necessarily evil and foes who are not intrinsically demonic. Further, her behavior-focused analysis prevents her from accepting that people can and do peacefully assemble in large assemblies without exhibiting the mob-like behavior Coulter decries.
Are Americans in a French-like revolution now? One would think so given the tenor and tone of her tome. When was the epidemic of beheadings in America and who were the perpetrators. Did we miss passage of the Build the Guillotine Now! Act or the Off With Their Heads Protestor Reduction Act?
Who exactly is advocating violence and the mass murder of innocent people? Oh, that would be Coulter.
Coulter advocated carpet-bombing Iran (“Well, I keep hearing people say we can’t find the nuclear material, and you can bury it in caves. How about we just carpet-bomb them so they can’t build a transistor radio?”) and launching a nuclear attack against North Korea (“I think we ought to nuke North Korea right now just to give the rest of the world a warning. Boom! … I just think it would be fun to nuke them and have it be a warning … to the world.”).
Foundational Errors in Demonic
When asked, on C-Span’s In Depth, why she began her book with Scripture, Coulter analyzed Mark chapter 8 and asserted, “There you have it – from the Holy Bible – the mob is demonic!” Wrong!
Coulter preceded her claim by saying that her book began with Scripture because it is central to her thesis and spiritually foundational to her book. But neither the words of Jesus nor the gospel she cites make the claim she asserts. The Gospel of Mark tells us a story about a man who was possessed by a “Legion” of demons; it is neither a political treatise nor a psychological evaluation of what happens when a number of people assemble together into a large group.
The quoted Scripture is a descriptive narrative of an event, not a prophetic pronouncement of the future nor a psychological textbook on human nature in isolation or in large groups.
Still, Coulter claims – based on her cited Scripture – “That really is the theme of the whole book: that the mob is demonic and the demons are always a mob.”
Unfortunately, people who don’t know any better are very likely swayed by her assertions, ones which are untrue.
Definition of a Mob
Coulter’s definition of “mob” is problematic at best – both intrinsically demonic and uniformly liberal in nature. She relies heavily on the seminal work of Gustave le Bon, whom Coulter regards as the definitive expert on mobs. Le Bon doesn’t even use the pejorative word “mob” in his work. Rather, he wrote of “crowds.”
That’s right: Coulter turned non-judgmental term “crowds” into the more pejorative term “mobs.”
Le Bon observed, “Without a doubt criminal crowds exist, but virtuous and heroic crowds, and crowds of many kinds, are also to be met with.” Le Bon reiterated, “A crowd is as easily heroic as criminal.” Again, “Doubtless a crowd is often criminal, but it is often heroic.”
These nuances are lost on Coulter. One must wonder what Coulter made of this passage from The Crowd: “Still, this does not mean that crowds, skillfully influenced, are not capable of heroism and devotion and of evincing the loftiest virtues; they are even more capable of showing these qualities than the isolated individual.”
But Coulter’s theme requires that individuals assembled into large groups inevitably lose their rationality, yet she makes exceptions for some (Tea Party) and not for others (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and she altogether ignores many (Promise Keepers) – with no coherent differentiation among them. Indeed, Coulter ignores the largest “mob” in American history – the Promise Keepers’ Stand in the Gap in 1997 (estimated to be as many as 2 ½ million people, mostly men, on the Mall). I was there! Also, as flawed as the Nation of Islam is, the Million Man March was a peaceful “mob.”
Coulter’s definition of a mob is uniformly one-dimensional (it is large and unruly) and unipolar (it is always liberal). Indeed, her definition of a mob defines nothing. It is purely circular logic: “the mob is demonic and the demons are always a mob” – the mob is liberal and only liberals are a mob. Remember, from the very first words of her book, Coulter got it wrong: her citation referred to a possession and an event that was neither a description nor definition of a mob.
Returning to Scripture, in the Old Testament (which transpired before the Holy Spirit was universally dispensed) the nation of Israel frequently gathered into large groups that would be considered “mobs” under Coulter’s definition, but yet they were godly religious assemblies. Indeed, the unconverted Israelites were required to assemble annually in Jerusalem for specific holy days. Did God sanction “mobs?”
In yet another inconsistency, Coulter equates “mobs” with “factions” in the Federalist Papers, but the Founders regarded “factions” as a natural outgrowth of human nature. In Federalist 55, James Madison observed the universality of factions, writing, “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.” Madison would be the first to deny Coulter’s claim that “the mob is demonic and the demons are always a mob,” just as he would decry the notion that only liberals can become mobs.
In Federalist 10, Madison clarified his views on factions, writing:
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
Madison poetically expressed a universal reality: “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an ailment without which it instantly expires.” A free people in an open society will necessarily – from their own human nature – form factions. When the freedom to form factions is denied, liberty dies. Madison continued: “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society.” Thus, factions are not intrinsically evil just as the Left is not ipso facto demonic.
Characteristics of a Mob
What defines and determines a mob? Coulter does not really provide the answer. She quotes at length one author and claims to have read a dozen books on a similar theme, yet what emerges from Demonic is more a diatribe than a dissertation.
Per Coulter, what factors define a mob in Coulter’s view? First and foremost, they are liberal. Second, they are violent. Third, they may be large. Fourth, they use slogans. Fifth, they have revered leaders.
What about the character of the individuals involved? She says people [all people] lose control in a mob – but this is demonstrably untrue and not a predetermined outcome. Other factors ignored by Coulter include the temperament of the crowd, the ethos of the existing environment and culture, the goals of the gathering, and the purposes of the leaders.
In fact, Le Bon’s analysis of the adverse behaviors of crowds contains a disclaimer: “… what crowds may become, but not what they invariably are.” He explains, “All depends upon the nature of the suggestion to which the crowd is exposed.” Moreover, Le Bon does not suggest barbarous crowds are peculiar to a particular political persuasion.
Coulter herself participated in the March for Justice, an anti-Clinton rally held on Halloween, 1997. She was there. She spoke from the dais. She felt compelled to attend and compelled to speak.
I said I wouldn’t talk. … God bless you. … I promised my publisher that in the interests of appearing non-partisan that I would not be speaking today but I had to come and see my fellow Freepers. Um, I can’t tell you what a wonderful thing it is to go on Free Republic – which I do every day and I did about 17 times a day when I was out of the country for a while – um, God bless you all. Thanks.
That rally incorporated countless signs and slogans with many protestors attired in costumes of one kind or another. Seeking the impeachment of a president, it was remarkably calm and, indeed, lighthearted – even jovial in atmosphere. Speakers and people from across the country participated in this mob before whom Coulter spoke – a mob videotaped by C-Span with no reports of violence. This is but one example of many raised for which Coulter is unable to explain the differences between “good” mobs and “bad” mobs, other than that the former are conservative and the latter liberal.
This author has attended annual March for Life marches populated by individuals and organizations running the gamut of political perspectives, including feminists, Democrats, and atheists – all gathered together in unity for one cause: the pro-life movement. They are always, always, peaceful.
Would Tea Party rallies or Trump rallies be regarded by Le Bon as “crowds?” Yes!
Per Coulter, slogans are evidence of a mob and unique to liberals. Coulter preposterously claimed, “It is striking how many slogans liberals have and how pathetic conservatives are at even coming up with slogans.” Yes, she claims that only the Left uses slogans. This is demonstrably false.
The American revolutionaries, whom Coulter holds in such high esteem, certainly used slogans as political shorthand: 1) No taxation without representation, 2) Don’t tread on me, 3) United we stand, divided we fall, and 4) If we don’t hang together, we’ll all hang separately.
Moreover, today’s Tea Party, of whom Coulter considers herself a member, uses slogans! A multitude of slogans (here’s a flavor of what’s out there): 1) Born free, taxed to death, 2) Cut taxes, not deals, 3) Don’t mortgage the future, 4) Don’t stimulate … liberate, 5) Fair tax or no tax, 6) Foreclose the White House, 7) Give us liberty, not debt, 8) More taxes = less jobs, 9) No more bailouts, 10) TEA – Taxed Enough Already, and 11) Where’s the fence?
Let’s not forget – “Read the Bill!”
Or … “Build the Wall!” Coulter incessantly tweets, writes, and opines about “Build the Wall!”
Americans have always used slogans (and mottos) to encapsulate their points in a memorable fashion. Consider just these three alone: 1) Duty, Honor, and Country, 2) Liberty and justice for all, and 3) Remember the Alamo.
Snappy slogans and revered leaders are natural ingredients of any large group of people gathered together with a common purpose.
Being the recipient of hero worship herself (literally!), it is astonishing to hear her assert that only liberals have adoration for their heroes. Isn’t Coulter a Conservative Idol and a Goddess? Still, on Hannity, Coulter claimed, “We don’t worship our leaders. We don’t turn them into idols, probably because we have a real Savior.” A few days later, she said, “The most striking aspect of liberal behavior that is stunningly a part of mob mentality is their creation of Messiahs and their tendency to demonize all those that disagree with them.” (Ironically, it was only a few years later when Coulter would repeatedly – over a period of years – refer to Donald Trump as the “Emperor-God Trump.”)
What is Coulter’s evidence for this “most striking aspect of liberal behavior?” Ronald Reagan!
For example, creating Messiahs, a crowd very quickly goes to extremes, they’re simple-minded, they will create Messiahs and I have a hilarious chapter because I quote liberals on what they say about FDR, JFK, about Clinton, about Obama, fainting at his speeches, they’re pledging their loyalty to him. Same thing with Clinton, go back to him and meanwhile, Ronald Reagan wasn’t even the most popular conservative his first year in office. My newspaper, Human Events, which was Ronald Reagan’s favorite newspaper was attacking him so much. The Washington Post reported at one point that Reagan said and I’m still reading you guys, but I’m liking you a lot less. And I’ve got headlines throughout all late years of the Reagan administration.
But Coulter is deliberately deceptive when using Reagan as definitive proof that the Right does not have heroes. For instance, she uses polling data from 1983 (one of the Gipper’s roughest years) as cherry-picked evidence for her assertion. Rather, one need only look at the 1980 presidential election cycle to see that Reagan decisively defeated both of his Republican rivals and then the incumbent Democrat in the White House.
Reagan’s popularity among conservatives – and among Americans – was such that he won a third term with Bush 41’s presidency. Conservatives ever since have looked for a successor to Reagan, in character and in spirit. Yet Coulter knows that even as she tries to deny it.
When asked in 2004 what it was “like to meet a man you admired so much, Ronald Reagan,” Coulter beamed, “It was like an orthodox Jew meeting Moses.” Sounds almost messianic to me. Just seven years earlier, Coulter was rapturous while speaking of the Gipper:
I went to Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration, and that, that really was something. I mean, nobody thought somebody that conservative could ever be president. He was denounced during the campaign, “Oh, this is gonna be Goldwater all over again,” If you read articles then, everyone thought it was gonna be another 1964 debacle. And people were just thrilled walking along the streets. It was a warm, sunny day, and to have conservatives take over the White House. … Ronald Reagan really just always set the standard at the first inauguration. And the next one, the only other one I remember getting sort of that choked up and emotional about was George Bush’s and that was only when Ronald Reagan’s helicopter flew up and flew away.”
Scores of books have been written about Reagan and he remains, even in the 21st century, both the standard to which conservatives look and the model they seek to emulate. Coulter gives short shrift to Reagan just as she also ignores America’s devotion to and adoration of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, to name just two other presidential giants revered by generations of Americans.
In 2001, a captivated Coulter “swooned for” Bush 43: “When I began swooning for George W. Bush during the Republican primaries, my friends warned me that I was going to have to eat my words. It’s now a month into his presidency, and I’m even more doe-eyed about Bush than ever.”
Coulter’s scriptural foundation for her book is wrong; her definition of “mob” is wrong; and the characteristics that she ascribes to “mobs” is wrong. Some would rightly say that twisting truth into lies is itself demonic.
Joker: Ann Coulter Unplugged provides an in-depth, detailed analysis in this holistic exposé of how and why Coulter has become the polemicist whom people either love or hate.
Joker addresses the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, familial, sexual, and spiritual dimensions which have shaped the Ann Coulter that we know today and it highlights both the positives and the negatives of Coulter’s life and career.
 Ann Coulter, New York Observer, 1/10/05.
 Ann Coulter, In Depth, C-Span, 8/7/11.
 Gustave le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, The MacMillan Co., 1896, http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/BonCrow.html.
 Ann Coulter, March for Justice Rally, Washington, DC, 10/31/98.
 Ann Coulter, In Depth, C-Span, 8/7/11.
 Ann Coulter, Hannity, FNC, 6/6/11.
 Ann Coulter, Newsmax interview, 6/12/11.
 Ann Coulter, Hannity, FNC, 6/6/11.
 Ann Coulter, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans, Crown Forum, 2007, pg. 236; 2004 interview with the American Enterprise Institute. See also Coulter’s tribute to Reagan at http://reagan2020.us/tributes/coulter.asp.
 Ann Coulter, MSNBC, 1/19/97.
 Ann Coulter, “How to Talk to a Liberal,” 2/22/01.