'Apocalypse Now' Conservatism
In 'Godless,' Ann Coulter is right about crime, abortion, and education--but doesn't prove that liberalism is a religion.
BY: Jeremy Lott
In Ann Coulter's latest book, "
Godless: The Church of Liberalism
," the conservative author sees liberalism much as political theorist James Burnham saw it--as a philosophy of Western suicide. Except Coulter thinks "philosophy" doesn't quite do it justice. "Liberalism," she explains, coming out of the gates, "...has its own cosmology, its own miracles, its own beliefs in the supernatural, its own churches, its own high priests, its own saints, its own total worldview, and its own explanation of the existence of the universe." It is, in short, a cult--a religion.
The book aims to show that liberalism is both a false religion and America's unrecognized official religion. Because liberalism does not advertise itself as a faith, the argument runs, it hasn't had to make the case for itself, as traditional religions must, in order to gain the assent of the devout. Furthermore, it is not hamstrung by the usual church/state separation issues that it helped to raise against its competitors, so it can always count on state sponsorship as well as the support of the upper crust of American society. This unfair arrangement has given liberalism unfettered access to spread its ideology in public schools and colleges, Hollywood, the Democratic Party, and the press, Coulter claims. In fact, in her telling, liberalism is so engrained in American life that it's almost impossible to challenge its dominance without sounding like, well, a crank, or at least a Republican. You have to tug at so many deeply held assumptions at once that most people are incapable of giving the case against liberalism serious consideration.
That doesn't stop Coulter from giving it the old college try. With chapters explaining liberalism's impact on crime, abortion, education, the cult of the victim, science, and evolution, she uses every bit of her legal training, as well as her ferocious wit, to convince readers that liberalism is just as much of a religion as is her own Presbyterianism. She wants American liberals to recognize this fact and to renounce their faith.
Coulter devotes four chapters to her belief that those people who believe in evolution through natural selection do so because of their faith in a progressive world (think Marx's "History" or more vague notions of material progress brought about by benevolent government action), not because of the evidence. She argues that her own faith would be left unshaken if the generally accepted evolutionary scenario proved true, but says that liberals absolutely need it to be true for their worldview to remain coherent, and so she mounts a sometimes-tedious challenge to their presuppositions.
Why go on at such length over the point? That's like writing a book about Mormonism and spending 40 percent of the text on Joseph Smith's sacred stones. If liberalism is a religion, as Coulter claims, then it would certainly benefit from the creative license that believers allow for reinterpreting creation myths.