Using wit, not anger, to deal with ones opposition

In an earlier post, I wrote approvingly about Greg Gutfeld’s The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage, which focuses on a culture of outrage that requires that people — especially people on the Left — use manufactured outrage to yell down anything that doesn’t agree with their limited view of “tolerance.” When someone sent me an email with the following quotations, it occurred to me that many outraged shrieks we hear may result because Lefties are totally at a loss for words. In other words, their education has been so limited, and their intellectual materiel so sparse, they’re incapable of the type of cutting wit that was once de rigueur amongst educated (or semi-educated) people:

These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.

· “He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

· “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

· “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” Clarence Darrow

· “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

· “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas

· “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain

· “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends..” – Oscar Wilde

· “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.” – George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

· “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second … If there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in response.

· “I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” – Stephen Bishop

· “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright

· “I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.” – Irvin S. Cobb

· “He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson

· “He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating

· “In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” – Charles, Count Talleyrand

· “He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker

· “Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?” – Mark Twain

· “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West

· “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

· “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… For support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

· “He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” – Billy Wilder

· “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

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):

Greg Gutfeld’s book about the “Tyranny of Cool.”

Thanks to a handy-dandy Amazon gift certificate, I just bought myself a Kindle copy of Greg Gutfeld’s The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage.  It sounds like a book that is simultaneously important and enjoyable.  I’ll be reading it with a close eye, because his ideas about challenging Hollywood’s pop culture feed into the ideas that Lulu and I are playing with.