Book Review — Greg Gutfeld’s The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage

I have some very exciting news: I have found my long-lost identical twin. It’s amazing, really. Like me, my twin grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 60s and 70s. Like me, my twin went to UC Berkeley and found Leftist antics revolting. Like me, my twin now does conservative commentary, with lots of self-deprecating parentheticals peppering observations about the illogic, hypocrisy, and mental sterility of the Leftist intellectual universe. And like me, my twin is short (or at least, claims to be short).

Okay, I’ll admit that there are a few differences. My long-lost twin is somewhat younger than I; Catholic, rather than Jewish; and, of course, he’s male. Other than that, the only really significant difference is that he’s famous, and he’s much more brilliant and amusing than I am — two qualities he amply demonstrates in his most recent book, The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage.

I often start reading books that focus on the way the Left has taken over America’s intellectual universe, substituting emotion for reason and intellectual bullying for genuine political discourse.  Sadly, with many of these books, I stop reading about halfway through.  It’s not that the books are badly written or that I disagree with the premise.  The problem is that I end up so depressed that, despite applauding the author’s data and insights, I just can’t make myself pick the book up again.

There are a few exceptions, of course:  Jonah Goldberg and Ann Coulter spring to mind.  In addition to being informed and insightful, their books are also quite amusing. Even if I don’t agree with all of their conclusions or if I find their facts and conclusions depressing, I’m still laughing as I face ugly truths about the bankruptcy the Left has visited upon America’s marketplace of ideas.  With the publication of The Joy of Hate, I can add a new author to the list of those whose books I read right to the end, even though a part of me is practically weeping about the vast and angry intellectual wasteland he describes.

Gutfeld’s target is the Left’s habit of using the cloak of “tolerance” to justify turning manufactured outrage on anything that is inconsistent with Leftist norms.  In other words, as used by the Left, tolerance is a euphemism for grossly hypocritical.  A good example is Gutfeld’s chapter on the American military, in which he analyzes the professional Left’s (i.e., the media’s and Hollywood’s) outrage with a video purporting to show Marines peeing on a corpse.

Gutfeld acknowledges that peeing on a corpse is not a nice thing to do.  Reasonable people of good will might think that a good military kills its enemy, but it needn’t sink to the vulgarity of peeing on its enemy.  So the Left could have a point, except…

But you won’t find that sensible understanding from the left.  Which I’d accept — if they were consistent about all types of atrocity.

Here’s where the tolerant left falls apart once again.  You never see them express outrage when our enemies behead, mutilate, or hang our soldiers.  You never hear them express outrage over what these beasts do to women, gays, and whomever else they consider worthless, according to their caveman mentality.  They are vicious, backward, murderous assholes — but according to the left, our guys are worse because they peed on those assholes’ corpses.  (By the way, here’s another bizarre inconsistency:  How is pissing on a corpse worse than turning that guy into a corpse?  I mean, we accept that our troops go there to kill people, and I can safely say that being killed has to be worse than getting splashed with urine.  It defies logic that drones are preferable to water sports.)

Likewise, in his chapter on “Unreal Estate,” Gutfeld takes sharp, effective jabs at the way the Left uses faux tolerance to create an intellectual environment in which banks were afraid to say that giving loans to people who cannot afford them was an economic disaster waiting to happen:

The banks were encouraged to approve the loans, and for a while everyone was happy, or at least not in foreclosure.   But what would happen if some banking dude had said that this practice [of giving loans in such a non-discriminatory fashion that the ability to repay wasn't even considered] might be a bad idea:  that approving loans to millions of people who can’t afford them spells disaster?  That would be discriminatory.  Clearly, Mr. Evil Banker (who must look like the mustachioed Monopoly guy) doesn’t want blacks or Hispanics to own homes.  Yep, if you don’t approve of that loan, you’re probably a racist, Mr. Moneybags (never mind that whites got nailed, too).

For those of us who are political junkies, there are no new facts in The Joy of Hate.  What makes the book interesting, is the way Gutfeld follows the common thread binding such disparate characters and entities as Sandra Fluke, ESPN, Bill Maher, Robert Redford, and Janeane Garofalo, among others — all of them, under the guise of a vast tolerance, use nuclear-powered outrage to quash any views or beliefs that don’t fit within their anti-American, anti-capitalist, victim-centric world view.

Much of what Gutfeld does is to validate your and my common sense.  No, we’re not crazy if we think corporations are useful enterprises for getting things done on a larger scale than individuals on their own could accomplish.  Likewise, we’re not delusional if we think it’s appropriate for banks to make decisions based upon business considerations and we believe that deadbeats with expensive Womyn’s Studies or Puppetry degrees should be censured, more than pitied.  Put another way, Gutfeld is the antidote to cognitive dissonance.

Importantly, because it preserves him from being charged with hypocrisy, Gutfeld also isn’t afraid to turn his fire on conservatives.  We conservatives don’t help this overheated atmosphere by being “outraged” at things that are stupid or merely offensive.  We need to save the outrage for outrageous things — and use logic and intelligent sneering for the other stuff.

To begin with, without heat, and possibly with humor, we should also call the Left on its hypocrisy.  Clashing outrage convinces no one, but it does tend to favor the side with the bully pulpit (newspapers, TV news shows, movies, etc.).  Rather than weeping and wailing about Bill Maher’s tacky habit of affixing four letter sexual epithets only on conservative women, we should be asking him why he isn’t affixing those same purely sexual descriptions on any Leftist women.  I mean, considering that the Left won the election, in part, by focusing on women’s lady parts, isn’t he engaging in gross discrimination when he doesn’t call Babs Streisand or Cher a c**t?

As someone I know says, “Don’t get furious, get curious.”  Which leads to Dennis Prager’s preference for “clarity over agreement.”  Asking polite (or sarcastic, that’s okay too) questions does two things:  it forces people to examine their own beliefs, and perhaps change their minds, or it forces them to speak truths that they know make them look ugly.

Knowing all of you as I do — funny, informed, somewhat cynical, and intelligent — I think you’ll genuinely enjoy The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage, and that you’ll like it from beginning to end.  It also has the virtue of being the kind of book you can give to your liberal friend who is a Jon Stewart fan.  Gutfeld’s somewhat rough, scatalogical humor (okay, so we’re not quite identical twins), should appeal to the same people who like Jon Stewart’s foul-mouthed encomiums to Leftism, and it might open their eyes a little bit.  They may not change their minds, but they might start questioning the hypocrisy that underpins the Left’s perpetual outrage.

By the way, if you’re in a book buying mood, don’t forget my books, which aren’t half as good as Greg’s, but may still while away a few idle hours (assuming you have any of those):

The inevitable result of identity politics

Identity politics turns people into one dimensional characters, who must act out a set script.  If you’re black or Hispanic, you must be a Democrat, even if you oppose abortion, take a jaundiced view of gay marriage, and want school choice.  If you’re a woman, you must support equal pay for comparable work, even if that will destroy the economy and dramatically lessen the total number of jobs available.  If you’re a white male, you must be the epitome of all things regressive and evil.  Oh, and if you’re gay, you cannot be a principled conservative and must, instead, be humiliated and destroyed:

California GOP Rep. David Dreier and a number of other politicians are the unwilling stars of a controversial new documentary with an explosive premise – it’s time to blow open the closet door on prominent politicians who have hidden their homosexuality while actively working against gay causes.

The film “Outrage,” which opens today at the Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco, presents interviews and documentation charging that a number of prominent legislators – including Dreier, the U.S. representative from San Dimas (Los Angeles County), GOPFlorida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Democratic New York Mayor Ed Koch – have remained closeted while publicly opposing legislation on issues such as same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS funding, and gays in the military.

Liberals frequently confuse their compulsive need to typecast with hypocrisy.  Let me set the record straight.  Hypocrisy means to advocate one course of conduct or belief for others (usually with a sacrifice to them), while espousing another for yourself (usually to your benefit).

Thus, it’s hypocrisy when Al Gore goes around demanding that we all drive in cars made out of tissue paper, and live in houses that are freezing cold in winter and furnace hot in summer, all the time driving himself in a safe and comfortable SUV, and living in a series of energy-hog mansions.  It’s hypocrisy when Michael Moore demands that we all divest from Halliburton, but invests in it himself.  It’s out and out lying when Bill Clinton says “I did not have sex with that woman” or John Edwards assures the American people he never had an affair.

It is neither hypocrisy or lying, however, when gay men and women have a principled opposition to same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS funding or gays in the military.  These same gay people, after all, are not being accused of sneaking off to Holland to get married, while denying those rights to American gays; of funneling money to those of their friends ill with HIV/AIDS while denying it to others; or whatever would be hypocritical behavior with regard to gays in the military.

Without any hypocrisy, it is perfectly possible to be gay, but believe that marriage is a specific institution unique to men and women.  You can hold to that position and still colorably demand full civil rights for gay unions that are then recognized nationwide.  Likewise, without hypocrisy, you can be gay, but recognize that cancer or heart disease or some other disease deserves equal access, not just to funding, but to fund raising.  And of course, you can be gay and believe that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a workable compromise that allows gays to serve in the military without offending the heterosexual sensibilities that currently prevail in “this man’s Army” — all without being a hypocrite who voices one view and acts upon another.

The film “Outrage,” however, typecasts gays, and denies them the right to examine issues through a lens other than their own sexuality.  I say this without knowing or caring whether the men and women named in the movie are actually gay.  What I care about, deeply, is the pressure the gay community imposes upon its members to abjure independent thought, and to march lockstep through a series of complicated and contentious issues.

For a community that, a mere 40 years ago, broke free of the shackles imposed against it, it’s a real tragedy that it now insists upon imposing similar shackles upon itself.