August 11, 2002

Open Foot, Insert Mouth

Max Sawicky points out that Ann Coulter now excludes Manhattan from "America." I had never thought that anyone would dare claim that the World Trade Center was not part of America, and that the people who died there were not (mostly) Americans. I was wrong...


Anncoulter.org: 'By "America," I obviously mean to exclude newsrooms, college campuses, Manhattan and Los Angeles...'

Posted by DeLong at August 11, 2002 06:52 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Thanks for the link - it allowed me to see the true context of the statement.

People who live in those areas {newsrooms, college campuses, Manhattan and Los Angeles), and other urban areas are arguably out of touch with the rest of America, from a conservative perspective. The idea that people need to be governed in every way comes largely from that frame of reference.

From your point of view, the exact opposite is probably true, in terms of being out of touch. Either way, Ann Coulter wasn't saying that "the World Trade Center was not part of America, and that the people who died there were not (mostly) Americans", by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that you made your sick determination is a clear sign that you shouldn't be reading from any viewpoint that differs from your own. You have not the ability to be objective.

Furthermore, your conclusions are similar to that of Chomsky, in his creative views of reality.

You might re-read your own Chomsky analyses before you put your foot into your own proverbial mouth again.

Posted by: Dean Bartkiw on August 11, 2002 09:16 PM

Dean;

But of course it was Coulter, not Brad, who chose to frame a disagreement about the proper degree of government intervention in the economy in terms of a difference between "America" and "not America." She is hoping that her readers will take this equation seriously enough that they will have the 'proper' level of disgust for those with other-than-conservative views. (And if this tactic works well enough, she is freed from the difficult burden of needing to make any rational argument for her own views.)

If we take Coulter's equation seriously, though, Brad's conclusion is a simple matter of connecting the logical dots: Those who don't live in America are presumptively non-Americans; New York isn't America; therefore those who live in New York (like those killed at the WTC) are presumptively non-Americans.

So your complaint about Brad's "creative" construction of Coulter's statements essentially amounts to an expression of horrified outrage at the very idea that anybody would dare pretend that Coulter actually meant what her rhetoric was begging us to believe. Allow me then to ask (rhetorically, of course): at whom is such outrage really best directed?

By the way, if Brad's 'leap' from "Coulter thinks New York is not America" to "so Coulter thinks the WTC victims weren't Americans" counts as "sick" distortion, how would you describe Coulter's own idiosyncratic applications of deductive logic? Take, for example, her claim that the New York Times' supposed failure to put Dale Earnhardt's death on page one proves beyond a shadow of doubt that liberals hate normal Americans. If Brad's reasoning is sick, Coulter's must be dead, rotting and putrid, wouldn't you agree?

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on August 11, 2002 10:33 PM

You might want to get a masseuse for all that stretching you're doing, Dean. An impressive feat, but useless nonetheless. One would wonder why at least half of America (which lives or works in major metropolitan areas or goes/has gone to college) isn't really "in touch" with America, and why, with all its diversity of viewpoints, you can just dismiss entire spectrums of Americans (in Coulter's case, liberals) as "not being in touch with America".

I choose to define America as not including fundamentalist Christians, suburbanites, or the Farm Belt. Of course, because we have this hackneyed idea that there is this mythical portion of America called "the heartland" where *real* Americans reside, I'd be, well, whatever names Coulter can come up with.

Posted by: jesse on August 11, 2002 10:39 PM

Professor, you must have posted the wrong link there, because I followed it and I still haven't seen anyone ...

"claim that the World Trade Center was not part of America, and that the people who died there were not (mostly) Americans"

Would you like to maybe fix it and point out where that claim was actually made?

Because if it wasn't actually made, saying it was seems rather, well, a claim that's not very nice on your part.

Or maybe we're just starting off the new week in a trolling mood? ;-)

Posted by: Jim Glass on August 11, 2002 10:46 PM

Based on Dean's statement that Coulter's non-Americans or out-of-touch Americans were those responsible for "The idea that people need to be governed in every way" I mistakenly assumed that Coulter's column was about economic issues; it was actually about the NY Times' coverage of Iraq. My fault for posting first before reading Coulter's column. But if for "a disagreement about the proper degree of government intervention in the economy " in my first sentence you substitute "a disagreement about the proper response to Saddam Hussein," the rest of my argument is not affected.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on August 11, 2002 11:38 PM

'People who live in those areas {newsrooms, college campuses, Manhattan and Los Angeles), and other urban areas are arguably out of touch with the rest of America, from a conservative perspective. The idea that people need to be governed in every way comes largely from that frame of reference.'

This begs the question of what's wrong with being "out of touch" with the rest of the country. Manhattan has a pretty large multiple of the population of Wyoming.

Anyway, the actual quote:

'HOW IS IT that the New York Times managed to locate the only eight people in America opposed to attacking Iraq? (By "America," I obviously mean to exclude newsrooms, college campuses, Manhattan and Los Angeles).'

Rhetorical tricks that inadvertantly imply non-citizenship are funny. Sure, probably didn't mean to say (this time, at least), that Manhattan's not part of the United States, but it sure looks like it.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on August 12, 2002 02:17 AM

Jim: Give over mate. It's pretty clear to see. And further down the page, the offence is compounded with

"It will take Manhattan and Washington being nuked before satisfying the exacting threshold of "evidence" demanded at the Baghdad Times".

Which, in the context of the article, seems to give the bizarre implication that Manhattan and Washington know nothing of terrorist attacks ...

Posted by: Daniel Davies on August 12, 2002 04:11 AM

Mr. Kramer,

Are we going to continue to invoke the 9/11 tragedy on EVERY off the cuff remark.

Read: "Is New York City crazy or what? Those people are pure lunatics," a hypothetical remark made by a hypothetical Iowan - visiting NYC for the first time.

Reply, by hypothetical Kramer or Brad, "Are you saying that the people who died in the WTC were mentally deranged? I've never heard anyone say that. Using written rules of logical reasoning - that is what you said, precisely. "

Get it? If you can't see it - you must not be American. Just kidding (in case you activate your logic skills again).

You guys can't be serious.

Oh, and your two wrongs "logic", that Coulter makes the same error of exaggeration, does little to further your argument that you are an authority on logic.

Peace and love to all.

Posted by: Dean Bartkiw on August 12, 2002 05:20 AM

As a lifelong New Yorker, and current resident of Manhattan, the iconic Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover...

View of the World from Ninth Avenue...says it all.I've always thought of the Hudson River as a border between cosmopolitan, dense, manic New York, and the dreamy, pastoral, provincial America of Norman Rockwell.

Posted by: George Zachar on August 12, 2002 05:41 AM

I don't know if the failure to find the link is some indirect way of saying AC didn't say the WTC was not in America. In any case, the column is still on her site, http://anncoulter.org, dated August 8. There are no permalinks, so that's the best I could do.

As for whether she literally said the WTC was not in America, well she said Manhattan wasn't, and the logical implication is plain enough. Who would deny Ann a taste of her own medicine?

Ann is the reactionary id. What she says is what many of the rest think. We have her to thank for exposing herself in this way. I look forward to the fun we will have unraveling the pretzel logic she uses to justify this remark.

Posted by: Max B. Sawicky on August 12, 2002 05:44 AM

One little 95 lb blonde kicking sand in liberals faces sure does get attention. Said blonde, btw, lives in Manhattan, where (iirc, she told Brian Lamb last night on Booknotes) she "sleeps til noon, works in her underwear, is her own boss, can't be fired, and is always happy". Does anyone think Coulter was saying she isn't an American?

So let me introduce those who seem to be unaware, to the rhetorical device, HYPERBOLE:

>

Which device also worked pretty well for the guy who wrote "he hath eaten me out of house and home", or; "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!".

Now, let's see what followed the quote that has some economists in such a dither:

>> Americans have been repeatedly polled on the question of using military force to depose Saddam Hussein. Within the last six months, the ABC News-Washington Post Poll showed 72 percent supporting a U.S. invasion of Iraq. The FOX News-Opinion Dynamics Poll also has 72 percent supporting it. The Newsweek poll shows 68 percent in favor. The least support for an attack comes from an NBC News-Wall Street Journal Poll showing only 57 percent in favor of attacking Iraq.

>> Yet the Times' man-on-the-street article – in Arizona, no less – did not manage to ferret out a single American supporting an attack on Iraq. Instead, the Times stumbled upon eight citizens, manifestly not at random, every single one of them opposed to war with Iraq. This allowed the Times to run an aggressively dishonest headline describing Americans as backing Bush – "but not into Iraq." > In a manly editorial that ought to have been titled, "SURRENDER NOW, GREAT SATAN!" the Times proposed patient suasion with the harmless and misunderstood Saddam Hussein. Demanding that "every available diplomatic option" be tried, the Times urged waiting until a "future link between Iraq and terrorism" can be established.

>> In the breezy style the Times uses for all its crackpot ideas, it explained that America need only "ensure that Iraq is disarmed of all unconventional weapons." The same editorial warned against invading Iraq on the grounds that "there may be no way to deter Iraq from using unconventional weapons against American forces." Wait a minute! Weren't we easily disarming Saddam of unconventional weapons a couple paragraphs back? <<

Extra credit for anyone who can spot the hyperbole in the first paragraph in the above.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on August 12, 2002 07:39 AM

I've always thought of the Hudson River as a border between cosmopolitan, dense, manic New York, and the dreamy, pastoral, provincial America of Norman Rockwell.

At least in terms of actual geography, that can't be right. Rockwell lived most of his adult life in New England, mostly in western Massachusetts. Like Manhattan, that's east of the Hudson.

Posted by: alkali on August 12, 2002 07:39 AM

met·a·phor

Pronunciation: 'me-t&-"for also -f&r

1 : a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money); broadly : figurative language -- compare SIMILE

From: http://www.m-w.com/

Posted by: George Zachar on August 12, 2002 08:24 AM

Extra credit for anyone who can spot the hyperbole in the first paragraph in the above.<<

Double extra credit for anyone who can make a rational argument for why every revolting thing Ann Coulter says is immediately covered by the Big Book O' Debate Terms.

It's also amazing how a little bearded linguist on the fringe of political discourse can get the right-wing so irritated.

Posted by: jesse on August 12, 2002 08:25 AM

As had to happen eventually, the ultimate weapon has been rolled out, namely “What’s the matter, can’t you take a joke?” Or, as Mr. Bartkiw puts it "You guys can't be serious!" It's appropriate that he should bolster his case here with that famous quote from another great New Yorker, John McEnroe. Mac, of course, not only won three Wimbledon singles titles and four US Opens, he went on to be Ann Coulter's debate instructor. It is very hard to convey McEnroe’s mastery of the telling retort, and I can’t emulate George’s multimedia presentation, so I'll just have to say "insert video clip of McEnroe with hands on hips telling the referee that if he had any brains or guts he would admit he was wrong and McEnroe was right and always would be, forever and ever amen." It was moments like this which led some of us, when McEnroe was representing our country against Czechoslovakia in the Davis Cup, to experience for the first and last times in our lives a powerful temptation to root for the Communists. That’s another ability Coulter has inherited, and cultivated.

Then there is Patrick, who, displaying the rhetorical device known as “sarcasm” (extraordinarily difficult to employ and, for that reason, very rarely seen on the Internet) tells us “let me introduce those who seem to be unaware, to the rhetorical device, HYPERBOLE: a figure of speech which is an exaggeration.... Which device also worked pretty well for the guy who wrote ‘But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!’” And that’s far from the only time his work employed the same figures of speech and the same great themes which would later be developed by Coulter. Who could fail to see it, for instance, in “Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!” (King Lear, IV.6)? Plainly, it’s Coulter 1 Delong 0. (No extra credit for anyone who can spot the ironic use of ALLUSION in the above statement. Extra extra credit for anyone who forswears future use of the “extra credit for...” schtick.)

More seriously, Mr. Bartkiw argues that there is an analogy between “these people are crazy” and “these people are not Americans.” The only similarity is that both are insults; in effect and intention they are worlds apart. Your uncle or cousin or best friend or spouse could call you “crazy.” They wouldn’t call you unAmerican, or anti-God, or without morals. These sorts of comments aren’t off-the-cuff remarks for Coulter, they are part of a dogged campaign of witless and mendacious invective which comprise pretty much the entirety of her oeuvre. Sure Coulter is a New Yorker, and a woman; that doesn’t mean she is just kidding around when she says New York isn’t America and women can’t understand the way the world works. It means she is in awe of her own ability to transcend these disgusting handicaps.

Regarding Mr. Bartkiw’s conclusion, I wasn’t arguing that Coulter’s misconduct excused Brad’s. (As I’m sure Patrick would confirm, that would be to employ the rhetorical device known as ‘tu quoque’ or “and you’re the same!”) I was arguing that Brad’s comments weren’t misconduct at all. I then suggested that IF it were misconduct it was quite trivial next to the kind of thing Coulter does absolutely routinely. Is that so difficult to acknowledge? Is it really irrelevant to the argument at hand? Finally, it seems my errors do “little to further my argument that I’m an authority on logic.” If Mr. Bartkiw (or anybody) attempts to show me an actual error in my argument, I will -- all fooling aside -- really try my best to listen attentively and respond carefully, or else shame on me; but if my interlocutor confines himself to one of the six billion ways of saying “you’re not as smart as you think you are,” the only thing I can do is shrug and say “no doubt you’re entirely right, and tu quoque.”

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on August 12, 2002 12:09 PM

Come on people, are you really that dense?

Taking a small, out of context quotation by some "liberal" and expanding it prove some absurdity about the opposition's views is Coulter's bread and butter. I believe she has even applied for a patent.

It really says something about the "Coulter conservatives" that they are so incapable of recognizing their own logic applied to themselves.

Posted by: on August 12, 2002 12:15 PM

Mr. Kramer,

While I appreciate your dedication to the craft you are attempting to perfect, I cannot concede that you are the Dalai Lama of Logic.

You did plainly use the 'two wrongs' argument in your first attempt. I have not the ability to detail it for you any clearer than your own words have done for me.

Nevertheless, given your inability to understand concepts as they relate to humor, hyperbole, sarcasm, and plainly purposeful exaggeration, I might suggest that you avoid reading Art Buchwold and PJ O'Rourke - as they often use similar techniques in their writing.

And I can assure you, that I laugh heartily when I read these musings of an extremist, by Ann Coulter. So, when I don't take her completely seriously - as in O'Rourke - does that make me the idiot? Or is it you, the guru of logic, who could benefit by abandoning your Mr. Spockian thinking long enough to catch an episode of Dennis Miller?

Lighten up. I assure you that Ann Coulter cried the same tears we all did at the realization of that horrible event. Don't diminish it's meaning by attaching it to every joke that targets NYC.

Posted by: Dean Bartkiw on August 12, 2002 02:20 PM

Nevertheless, given your inability to understand concepts as they relate to humor, hyperbole, sarcasm, and plainly purposeful exaggeration, I might suggest that you avoid reading Art Buchwold and PJ O'Rourke - as they often use similar techniques in their writing.<<

If a liberal had written that those miners in PA weren't Americans, but it was a joke, how would you feel?

And why is the excuse for Coulter always "It's humor!"

So, when I don't take her completely seriously - as in O'Rourke - does that make me the idiot? <<

Well, she means to be taken seriously, she argues as if she's serious, she only turns to the humor cop-out when she says something egregiously stupid. You want to defend her, fine, but choosing not to define certain parts of America as America is in remarkably poor taste, even if it's "humor".

Posted by: jesse on August 12, 2002 03:19 PM

Let's return to comments on Brad's 24 July comment about

Krugman and Ionesco.

Here's an ANALOGY:

" >I've found little that is factually

inaccurate in her book (though I've not read

it all<<

By the same token, I have found little that

is objectionable in Mein Kampf."

Patrick Sullivan reacted as if saying A is to B as C is to D implies A is like C:

"Now, after having misrepresented...

'objectionable' for 'factually inaccurate'...

it is claimed to all have been a big joke."

-- Patrick Sullivan

And here's a METAPHOR:

"you're the kind of man who micro-analyses

one-line jokes and treats them as statements

of policy."

And here's reaction exhibiting a lack of

awareness of metaphor:

"Where did I state ANYTHING he wrote was:

'statement...of policy'?"

-- Patrick Sullivan

So which is it to be? One should read with awareness

of figures of speech or not? Humor excuses all or not? I guess, for the petty, it's all a matter of whose ox is gored.

Posted by: AFoolishConsistency on August 12, 2002 04:10 PM

so if ms. coulter was using exaggeration in a humorous way to make a point, how was everyone able to miss the exact same device used by mr. delong when he talked about ms. coulter?

if you don't want mr. delong to take ms. coulter literally, why do you take mr. delong literally and then deride his arguments when they fall apart after such a literal examination?

how come rush limbaugh is doing "political satire," but when the rational people call him a flaming gas bag, they are being meanies who don't have a sense of humor? "flaming gas bag" is a fine political satire device.

what's sauce for the anorexic is sauce for the gander. let's all lighten up. it's only the fate of the free world, after all.

Posted by: skippy on August 12, 2002 04:18 PM

Jesse,

"If a liberal had written that those miners in PA weren't Americans, but it was a joke, how would you feel? "

No, an accurate analogy would be that a liberal said that all Pennsylvanians weren't Americans - as a joke. Would I immediately claim that this person was specifically claiming that "those miners" weren't American?

Nope.

Posted by: Dean Bartkiw on August 12, 2002 05:14 PM

No, an accurate analogy would be that a liberal said that all Pennsylvanians weren't Americans - as a joke. Would I immediately claim that this person was specifically claiming that "those miners" weren't American? that she doesn't mean it.

I mean, can I just write off any objectionable thing I say by calling it a joke?

"These three Jews were walking into a library..."

Posted by: jesse on August 12, 2002 08:55 PM

Mr. Bartkiw;

{Shrug} No doubt you're entirely right, and tu quoque.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on August 12, 2002 09:21 PM

Let's go to an expert opinion on the nature of humor: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger; comedy is when you fall down an open manhole and die." -- Mel Brooks

So, we can conclude, Tragedy is when Ann Coulter is made to wait in line at an airport; comedy is when Baghdad is nuked as an "anniversary present" for 9/11.

Posted by: on August 13, 2002 03:04 AM

I would point out in re. the remarks raised by "A foolish consistency" above, that there is all the difference in the world between making jokes at the expense of the people of Manhattan (who, one might argue, had suffered enough) and making them at the expense of Patrick Sullivan (who hasn't).

Posted by: Daniel Davies on August 13, 2002 05:08 AM

Advice for the would be logicians; don't quit your day jobs. One place where hyperbole is illegitimate is in an analogy. Because the only way the logic of an analogy can work is if it IS comparing specific similar things. Hence, "inaccurate" and "objectionable" being the logical fallacy of the false analogy.

Coulter was not invoking an analogy, she was making a generalization. One she supported with facts, about which everyone has taken a pass on commenting.

Further amusement for those who enjoy multiple ironies, is that Mr. Davies mention of Mein Kampf brought a rebuke from BRAD DELONG! "Remember Godwin's Law", he cautioned. Which is:

>> "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. <<

Though I wonder if the Professor isn't somewhat bemused to hear that people think he was joking with all those "slime" references.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on August 13, 2002 01:14 PM

Jeffrey Kramer gets no credit at all for this muff:

"And that’s far from the only time his [Shakespeare's] work employed the same figures of speech and the same great themes which would later be developed by Coulter. Who could fail to see it, for instance, in “Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!” (King Lear, IV.6)? "

Uh, Jeff, that's not a figure of speech. Lear is saying what he wants to do to his sons-in-law. Literally. You really think Juliet is huge, round, distant, and hot?

And, if you're merely ineptly attempting hyperbole, that invalidates any criticism of anyone else for using it.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on August 13, 2002 01:32 PM

One she supported with facts, about which everyone has taken a pass on commenting. <<

What facts? Opinion polls? Insults? Calling the New York Times the Baghdad Times?

You're not too hot at this arguing thing, Patty.

Posted by: jesse on August 13, 2002 01:52 PM

Brief note about Coulter on C-Span at

Just mentioning.

Posted by: on August 13, 2002 02:30 PM

How all occasions do inform against me,

And spur my dull revenge!

Examples gross as earth exhort me:

Witness this comment of such mass and charge

Posted by a delicate and tender Patrick,

Whose spirit with divine ambition puff’d

Makes mouths at the invisible event.

Rightly, to be great

Is greatly to find quarrel in a straw

When honor’s at the stake.

So, just on the odd chance that somebody for some reason actually takes an interest in these assorted straws, I must insist that “Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill” is a figure of speech, since there are only two sons-in-law (three if you count France, though he is probably not in Lear’s mind at this point: a fact which needs acknowledging because otherwise Patrick would almost certainly proclaim this error to the great Globe itself and all which it inherit) and they cannot literally be killed multiple times. I’m sure there is an official term for it in Latin, but somebody will have to give me a pretty good incentive to spend my time finding it. If Patrick wants me to do so he will have to promise that, if I succeed, he will publicly subscribe to a statement of repentance for misplaced pedantry, composed by myself. (And of course if I failed I would likewise submit myself to his mercies.)

The rest is silence (from me at least).

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on August 13, 2002 08:35 PM

>>You really think Juliet is huge, round, distant, and hot?<<

The last soprano I saw playing Juliet sure was. Even from the back rows you could see how red in the face she was getting.

Posted by: on August 13, 2002 08:49 PM

I am awestruck by Mr. Sullivan's ability to turn his own failure to get a joke, into a logical _and_moral_ failing on the part of someone else. This ability should be brought into the service of mankind, preferably in some way which doesn't involve me.

Posted by: Daniel Davies on August 13, 2002 11:10 PM
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