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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Bizarro World logic of Michelle Malkin

By Hume's Ghost

"[T]he truth is that it's conservatives themselves who blow the whistle on their bad boys and go after the real extremism on their side of the aisle." - Michelle Malkin, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild (2005)

"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors." - Ann Coulter in an address to the Conservative Political Action Conferance , Feb. 2, 2002

"I have a lot of respect for Ann Coulter" - Michelle Malkin, Nov. 28, 2004

"There are better ways to lay into liberals." - Michelle Malkin, linking to Ann Coulter's website, June 25, 2004

In the Superman comic books, there's a character known as Bizarro, an imperfect duplicate of Superman, who is not really evil, but ends up playing a villian because his perceptions of what are right and wrong are the opposite of what they should be. He comes from the Bizarro World, "a planet where alarm clocks dictate when to go to sleep, ugliness is beautiful," and everything is basically an imperfect, backwards skewed version of Earth.

While calling someone's logic "Bizarro" may be considered pejorative (and in this instance I am indeed using it as such), it may also be descriptive. And after watching this Hot Air video which Mrs. Malkin calls a "salute" to "Coultermania" I could not think of a more apt term to describe the up-is-down logic that animates Michelle's thinking.

Welcome to the Bizarro World of Michelle Malkin, where people who respond with indignation to hate-mongering are the "unhinged" ones. Where people who get upset over receiving the verbal equivalent of a punch in the face are the bullies, and the person doing the provactive punching is the victim.

Michelle begins the video by congratulating Coulter for her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, debuting at #1 on the New York Times best seller list. The book, Malkin says, should be called "priceless" because it "provoked" examples of "left-wing" "unhingedness, indignance, and hilarity." In the normal world, people who respond to petty insults, demagogery, hate, and idiocy with indignance are the hinged ones, but not in Bizarro World.

In Bizarro World, a book which asserts that anyone who does not share Ann Coulter's political beliefs are treasonous atheist communist liars whom can most effectively be communicated to with "a baseball bat" is sane, the detractors are "unhinged." A book that cites as authorities on science the leaders of a stealth creationism political movement pushing pseudoscience while asserting that one of the most robust, well-supported and firmly established theories and facts of science is "liberal mythology" is reasonable, the critics are the fools. Also by implication, anyone who believes that evolution is valid science is also all of the above, which means that Pope John Paul II was a liberal atheist communist, too, since he had described evolution as the "truth." This is the Bizarro World Michelle lives in.

Malkin calls the reaction that Coulter's work engenders her "invaluable" trademark. See, in Bizarro World, people who find statments like these upsetting are the extremists. In Bizarro World this isn't extremism

I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo.
The first example in the video of "unhingedness" is reaction to the portion of Godless which describes the "Jersey Girls" so:

These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was part of the closure process. These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's death so much.
In Bizarro World, telling widowed women they "enjoy" using their personal tragedy to make political statements is a valid point. But, as Dave Neiwert points out (and I swear his use of "bizarro" to describe Coulter's logic is coincidental, although the usage obviously correlates from the recognition of the inverted thinking of both Malkin and Coulter), that's not what the real problem Coulter has with the widows.

Actually, what galls Coulter about people like the 9/11 widows is that her standard response to Matt Lauer and Bill Clinton or anyone else who might possess the audacity to question in any fashion the Bush administration or conservatives generally is to accuse them of "treason" or, at worst, of "having forgotten what happened on 9/11." And that response, of course, doesn't work so well when you're talking about families of the victims.
So going through the quotations that are given as examples of the "left-wing" response, we first are shown a call for book sellers in New Jersey to voluntarily not carry Ann's book because she should not profit from her hate-mongering. What is unhinged about this? While I disagree with asking booksellers not to carry the book (whoever made that statement should have left it at calling for the people of New Jersey not to purchase the book), one can hardly object to the idea that hate-mongering should not be profitable. Unless that is, one is from Bizarro World.

Secondly, what is left-wing about the statement? Malkin believes that the ACLU is "left-wing," but were anyone to make an effort to ban Coulter's book the ACLU would very likely be one of the first organizations to step up in defense of Coulter's free speech rights. In Bizarro World, such contradictions do not lead to cognitive dissonance.

The next example of "unhinged" reaction is a quote suggesting what Mr. Neiwert argues above, which Malkin apparently believes can be dismissed prima facie as absurd. Then on to a quote from Hillary Clinton, which is first prefaced with an unflattering picture of Clinton (obviously, the comment to follow must be unhinged, just look at the picture.) Clinton's quote expresses disbelief that someone could launch a "vicious, mean spirited attack" against people she believes to be deeply concerned with their country. In Bizarro World, being opposed to vicious, mean spirited attacks is unhinged.

Then the video shifts into Coulter's response to Clinton, an incoherent red herring allegation about Bill Clinton being a rapist. In Bizarro World, illogic is logic.

The video next cuts to Coulter's appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno where she tellingly reveals her skewed Bizarro World perceptions, explaining, "from my perspective I'm Dorothy ... and I've just dropped my house on the mainstream media." In Bizarro World, a mainstream media that has driven her book to #1, which gives her a pulpit to promote her hate-mongering in multiple venues with frequent appearances, for which there is no left-wing or liberal equivalent to Ann Coulter, is "liberally" biased. In Bizarro World, eliminationist rhetoric is "conservatives being able to talk back," and anyone who finds it objectionable is the "unhinged" left.

The same mainstream media is shown in the next segment of the video having a vapid discussion about whether or not the panelists find her attractive. This is thrown into the video why? Is it unhinged leftwing behavior? If it's not unhinged or left-wing, that leaves indignant and hilarity. There's no indignance in the video, so I guess that makes it hilarity. Seems to me like trite and superficial media "analysis" which fails to give the audience any relevant information about her book or the context of the controversy surrounding her recent comments, which if anything amounts to meaningless noise that does nothing other than to promote Coulter, but what do I know, I'm not from Bizarro World.

Then we get to the one example in the entire video of someone responding to Coulter in a fashion that can appropriately be considered an attack, Keith Olberman tossing out several insults about Coulter being shameless, soulless, and worse than insane. In Bizarro World, granting Coulter impunity for her attacks and insults while complaining about the lack of civility from "the left" the moment someone responds in kind is not hypocritical.

Malkin closes by
1) Distorting what Chris Mathews said about Ann Coulter. He did not "criticize her looks." He asked panelists if they thought she was attractive, and he answered the question that he himself did not find her attractive, but he offered no criticism of the way she looked.
2) Implying that Keith Olberman is insane, a point Malkin seems to feel needs no defense or explication.

She again calls this priceless. What is so priceless about having the national discourse dragged into the gutter? Malkin provides as examples of the "unhinged" nature of "liberals" people responding to Coulter's demonization of those with whom she disagrees, while Malkin is herself oblivious to the extremist nature of Coulter's remarks. Here's the basic pattern, distilled to its essence:

Coulter to "liberal": You should be killed, traitor.
"Liberal": F_ck you.
Malkin: See? The luny left moonbats are unhinged.

In the Bizarro World, hate-mongering is "invaluable" for the "priceless" opportunity it provides Michelle to contribute to the "liberal"-hate market.

That's the short take on Malkin's approach. For a more in-depth analysis, see Dave Neiwert's 6 part series on Unhinged, and later today or tomorrow I'll do a follow up explaining the larger significance of the video and why this issue needs to be addressed.

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