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Conservative pundits in America are frequently the subject of international ridicule. Judged to be theatrically insincere, eccentric and overdosed on faith, they rarely find an audience outside of their land of origin. Glenn Beck and his style have few fans in French or German conservative circles. Sean Hannity is not a household name in Finnish or Scottish right-wing society, and so on.
I can appreciate the reasons for this. American discourse is unusually brash and provocative, often quite deliberately so. Even if it were attempted, I doubt a weak-tea BBC Newsnight-kind of discussion would attract much attention there. American media is about viewers and advertising. A viewership on the scale required by sponsors can only be earned with fireworks, red cloth and bulls.
But this doesn’t mean that some American conservatives do not have real talent underlying their cable news methodology. One pundit in particular deserves a far more cosmopolitan – or any rate more international – audience than she seems at present to attract.
Despite acres of print arguing otherwise, Ann Coulter is not a ‘joke’ or a ‘novelty act’. She is admittedly a woman, and a blonde, long-legged one at that. I don’t doubt that some of her fanbase are motivated by apolitical factors. But I am not one of them.
I read Ms Coulter’s columns for their dark humour and cutting insight. She is gifted with a rapier wit, Adderall-sharp mind and her knowledge of the gut-workings of the Washington machine is unparalleled. Let me illustrate this with some well-known quotations:
“Muslims are the only people who make feminists seem laid-back.”
“Since Adam ate the apple and let evil into the world, deranged individuals have existed. Most of the time they can’t be locked up until it’s too late. It’s not against the law to be crazy — in some jurisdictions it actually makes you more viable as a candidate for public office.”
“Liberals have managed to eliminate the idea of manly honour. Instead, all they have is womanly indignation.”
“One hundred percent of terrorist attacks on commercial airlines based in America for 20 years have been committed by Muslims. When there is a 100 percent chance, it ceases to be a profile. It’s called a ‘description of the suspect.'”
Some stuffy types might call this tone populist or dumbed-down, but that’s really quite unfair. It is actually the appropriate tone to use when discussing any kind of absurdity. When reality itself becomes self-satirical, mad to the point of losing insight, then the most accurate descriptions of it can only be phrased in comic language.
Humour is also a good means of getting a point across. Where would the anti-Islamisation movement be without the black comedy of Mark Steyn, for example? Some facts are so dark that one must one dust them in irony or laughter to make them palatable.
We are living in a world of beheadings, gays thrown from rooftops, forcible limb amputations and organised political rape. Most people would impulsively avoid knowing about these things. It’s all just too grim and defies too many human assumptions.
But we can’t ignore them. To put our fingertips in our ear canals only guarantees our destruction. The screams have to be heard. And I applaud and value people like Coulter for providing realism with the consolation of wit.