1. live2write
    Offline

    live2write Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2012
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    53

    Political Opinion Literature

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by live2write, Apr 2, 2013.

    Recently I finished reading Ann Coulter "Mugged". I am surprised that this book did not come out when I was in college. I took a class on Race in the 20th century and this would be considered as a bible to the mission of the class.

    Well my mother surprised me with 20 books and I am going to be reading one of them this weekend.

    THIS IS NOT A TOPIC TO ARGUE ABOUT PERSONAL POLITICS!!! (Sorry but politics are not to be discussed in good company and it is nobody's business to know anybody's political views)

    However what are your opinions about these books. Clearly I do believe that these should be taken with a grain of salt and to be followed through with research. I do check the sources in the back and compare them with others and then give my thoughts through there. But I do find it interested to understand what is really going on in the world and why it is happening.

    I also have been finding inspiration to them where I can come up with my own society and create conflicts and resolutions

    Political opinion is sometimes classified under "Public Opinion" in some book stores
     
  2. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I would never believe anything said by Ann Coulter, because she has been proven to say the direct opposite of what the actual facts show on so many occasions. I don't personally care for most of these books, because they're just churned out by pundits to make money and they go on talk shows to make themselves famous. Most contain very little policy analysis. Sources in books such as Coulter's should at the very least be googled, because so many of them are inaccurate.

    For topics such as race in the twentieth century, there are many books by reporters, sociologists, and professors that would be much more accurate and enlightening.

    Many of these books by pundits are filled with opinions, rather than a detailed analysis of policy. Rachel Maddow's book, Drift, is a very interesting analysis of U.S. military policy over the last four decades or so, but it's not just some anti-Republican tome. It points out all the blame to go around, from every administration since Johnson. It's really important to differentiate when an author is criticizing policy decisions, versus when they're going on some sort of rant. I find the opinion books almost useless -- those I agree with, I just agree with but don't really learn much. The ones I don't agree with, simply make me angry and disgusted. I find a policy or historical analysis infinitely more enlightening and useful.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Coulter's business model, writing and speaking, is to be insulting and outrageous. It sells lots of books and gets her speaking engagements and Fox New pundit guest appearances. There's nothing much of substance in anything she says or writes.

    I don't know what this means, the mission of the class was to teach racism?
     
  4. live2write
    Offline

    live2write Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2012
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    53
    The entire book was about how Racism of black American's is portrayed through the media.

    It was not a class to teach racism. The class was about Racism of all backgrounds (white, black, asian, hispanic, LGBT etc.) and in the modern world how they are portrayed in the media. It discussed several events like the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., Jessie Jackson, Rodney King, LA Riots, OJ Simpson trial and the Presidential election.
    It was not a class to teach us how to be racist nor were there any intensions of the class to be racist. It is an informative class about the past and the modern world. When I was sitting in class there was a melting pot of students of all backgrounds and cultures. There were students that did not understand racism today and others in denial.
     
  5. live2write
    Offline

    live2write Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2012
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    53
    Aside from the point of who is and who isn't,

    In general what do you think about these books? Genre wise!?

    Are they informative or only for interests of those who read them?

    What do you want these writers to write about?
     
  6. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I used to read both Time and Newsweek magazines, just so I could get a sense of reality between the two sides. Now I only pay attention to politics around election time (and then as little as possible) and I never read books about it. Blech.
     
  7. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Nothing. People like Coulter, Malkin, Beck, O'Reilly -- they're just writing for exposure and for money. They're not furthering the discourse. They say shocking things to get attention and money, and that gets people to buy their books and watch their shows.

    Again, on current social and political issues, it's better to read well-researched, rational explorations of all of the nuances and complexities that are involved.
    Although I don't agree with them on everything, I prefer books by Thomas Friedman or Fareed Zakaria. Kevin Phillips has written some good stuff, too.
     
  8. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    If it's written by Noam Chomsky, I'll read it. If not, chances are I won't.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Let me fix that for you: "The entire book was about how Racism of black American's is portrayed through the media" according to Coulter who knows how to push the buttons of white racists in America in order to sell herself and her books.

    There are legitimate issues regarding how the media deals with the topic of racism. Ann Coulter's view of said media treatment of racism in the US is much too one racist sided to be of much value.
     
  10. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I agree with GingerCoffee that her writing is very one-sided. America has always been pretty split politically, and even more so during the Obama administration. We're dealing with a country that views EVERYTHING either one way or a completely different way. It's so drastic that liberals and conservatives can hardly talk to each other without both sides calling the other side a bunch of idiots.

    Coulter is no exception. She only writes for the conservative side, and repeatedly bashes the liberal side. A good book, even non-fiction, is supposed to raise questions, open your mind, and get you to think on your own. Coulter spoon-feeds you answers that are opinionated from only one perspective, and, if anything, that only narrows your mind. There are certainly liberal authors that are just as one-sided as Coulter. Does that mean they are full of crap? No, I think they probably speak some truth, and she is probably worth reading, so long as she's not the only one you read.

    In my opinion, what America needs is a lot fewer people telling us their opinion on things (and trying to pass them off as fact, like Coulter), and a lot more people trying to understand the views of others. Good listeners with open minds are hard to come by.
     
  11. lettuce head
    Offline

    lettuce head Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Ohio
    Anyone who can take a product to market by understanding what their customers want always has my respect. I Culter's case she brings interesting ideas to the front and couches them in unusual ways. She provocative and knows how to do it. She has developed a readership by being the one who is willing to say what others are afraid to say. It doesn't matter what political position she has. There is a market for her books and she knows how to write to an audience.

    They should be informative, in my view. If you have an opinion it should be based on something. These kind of books are no different. Does Culter slant her facts? That is up to the reader to figure out. These kinds of books are meant to stir thoughts and emotions.

    I want these writers to keep on writing like they do already. It serves a purpose and there is a market.
     
  12. lettuce head
    Offline

    lettuce head Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Ohio
    Ginger, obviously it has no value to you, yet she fills a need in the book market. She is in demand. While her views do not sit well with you, others find her insight valuable. Politics aside, she is a legitimate author who has delivered many books on a variety of subjects. She has done what few others have done.
     
  13. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I agree they should be informative. Coulter says things such as that it was a mistake to allow women to vote. That sort of opinion is not informative, except insofar as what it says about the person holding it. In her case, I suspect that she does not even believe it herself. Her books are meant to stir emotion, but not much else. Whether she is a "legitimate author" is up for debate.
     
  14. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    And every day the people of the world buy 1 billion cigarettes, and Americans alone buy 36 million gallons of soda. Just because the masses buy it doesn't mean it has any nutritional or literary value.

    To be clear, I'm not saying that Coulter has no literary value, I'm saying that your argument is invalid.
     
  15. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    She writes opinion books, not literature. Can we say a non-fiction (arguably) book has literary value? However, whether we argue over whether it has literary or intellectual or educational merit, it's popularity does not determine whether it is so. Pornography is quite popular, but has no literary or artistic merit.
     
  16. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    double post
     
  17. lettuce head
    Offline

    lettuce head Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Ohio
    I'm confused. First you compare Coulter's work to soda and cigarettes and say she has no literary value. Then you say you aren't saying that and that my argument is invalid. I am not grasping your clarity.

    I'm standing on fact. Crown Publishing Group is a division of Random House Inc. They publisher her. Therefore, she is a legitimate author by Random House standards. Perhaps your argument is not with me, but with Random House.

    It is up to anyone to determine for themselves if her work holds literary value. I made no such claim. I claimed she is a legitimate author because she is a published writer. Now if Coulter isn't writing her own books, I wouldn't know about that.
     
  18. live2write
    Offline

    live2write Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2012
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    53
    This is why they are classified under the Genre "Political Opinion" or "Public Opinion". As I said these books should be taken with a grain of salt and should be further investigated to validate the objective. These are not books to tell you what to think but make you think.

    I can see your analogy. Sure 1 billion cigarettes are sold daily and 36 gallons of soda. They do not have nutritional value but the people buy it. These books may sell but it does not mean that it is a legitimate piece of writing to the masses.

    However it does make you wonder, "Is this true" or "I can see this happening" or "Wow I did not know it was portrayed this way".

    Example: If a publisher released a book about how milk is bad for the people and the process of processing the milk makes it harmful for the people and it was supported by references from articles and other books. The first thing you would probably do is either question to yourself if this is legit and you would further research it to validate it and then give your own opinion.

    All in all these books are equivalent to research papers in HS and College.
     
  19. lettuce head
    Offline

    lettuce head Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Ohio
    In your view, what does constitute a legitimate piece of writing?
     
  20. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I never said she wasn't a legitimate author; I think you're confusing me with Chicagoliz. I think she's a real author because she's been published, etc.

    My point is that it doesn't matter how many people buy her books, because people buying them doesn't prove that they have any intellectual or literary value, just as guzzling 36 million gallons a day doesn't prove soda has any nutritional value. Soda has a lotta sugar. Sugar tastes good. Some books are like sugar-filled candies, fun to consume but not exactly brain food. Maybe Coulter's books have value, maybe they don't, but sales definitely don't determine that.

    I'm not sure I follow. Research papers are supposed to be unbiased and based off facts, not opinions, and opinions are inherently biased. I only see this major difference.
     
  21. lettuce head
    Offline

    lettuce head Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Ohio
    Now I see your point. But I disagree. When people pay good money on any purchase it is a statement of value. If I don't think a product is worth the price, I don't buy it. That is a statement of value. Coulter is of value to her publisher because they keep paying her to produce books that sell. It is all based on value. She has proven sales. She promotes herself endlessly. She is an easy dollar for Random House. If her work held no value they wouldn't publish her work.

    The content of her work sure isn't for everyone. I've never purchased any of her books because it doesn't interest me enough to buy her work. Even though that is my personal statement of value and interest, it sure doesn't negate why she is successful. Her vast readership attests to that.

    Let me ask you, how do you determine intellectual or literary value? Is there a concrete definition? Or is it in the eye of the beholder?
     
  22. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    That is, of course, an enormous question that I'm sure have been discussed in dozens of dissertations or more. One quality that I think is very important that Coulter clearly lacks is "Balance." The ability to show the other side is key to good writing, to let the reader make up their own minds. That is true "brain food." Political opinion books tend to preach the "one true truth," making it easy for readers to turn off their critical thinking caps. She might be open-minded to conservative ideas, but she is very closed-minded when it comes to liberal ones. She ridicules liberals for how they think, just because they think differently. Without Balance, coulter's writing lacks serious intellectual value.

    Coulter seems to have cogent thoughts, and gives a lot of good examples, but without a balanced view I fear it can do more harm to the reader than good. Like I said in an earlier post, we have a problem in this country where liberals and conservatives CAN'T see from the other side. Highly opinionated writers like Coulter (liberal or conservative) make it more difficult to have open discussions with people from the other side.

    What do you guys who like Coulter think? Why is it okay that she is so closed-minded to the other side?
     
  23. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,942
    Likes Received:
    5,473
    I, too, don't get this analogy. A research paper is supposed to present facts and back up any assertions of opinion with a clean, clear line of facts and logic. These books don't have to present facts; they can be pure unsupported opinion.
     
  24. lettuce head
    Offline

    lettuce head Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Ohio
    I don't see how these kind of books do harm. I think they challenge one to think about issues. To me, that holds some level of intellectual value. A book doesn't have to be balanced in order to stimulate thought in a reader. But a more balanced approach to any subject would lend more credibility to the work.

    I agree, she is one sided. She isn't hiding that fact. She is advancing opinion and providing information to support her view. I encourage people to do that, no matter what their beliefs. We are a free country here in the USA.

    In Coulter's case, she knows her market, understands how to use shock value to get attention for herself and her message, and writes directly toward her goal of maximizing her share of that market. I appreciate that level of marketing skill. An old publishing friend of mine told me that writers are only as good as their last book. Coulter keeps pumping them out, one after another.

    Is Coulter driven by a cause? Is she selling herself out to make a buck? Is she wasting her talent as a writer by dedicating herself to producing opinionated trash? I honestly don't know.
     
  25. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Her books are harmful because they put out disinformation and falsehoods that people who don't pay attention will believe. Al Franken gave a small example in her claim in one of her books that the NYT did not report the death of Dale Earnhardt until two days after his death. (This was supposedly evidence that the NYT was elitest and didn't care about things that Middle America, or "real Americans" cared about.) She went on about how terrible it was that they waited for two days. But Franklin shows a picture of the NYT, from the day immediately following Earnhardt's death, that shows that they did, in fact, report it, on the front page, the day after it happened (which was the very next issue of the newspaper).

    Now, this is admittedly a small thing. But it shows that she has such little regard for the facts that she made this statement, in her book, no less, which was so demonstrably untrue. It would have taken the smallest bit of research to show that it was false. The fact that it was left in, and she argued it so strongly shows that she really didn't care what the truth was -- if it makes her point, she says it.

    In addition to the statements she makes that are simply facially ridiculous, the untruths that she spreads not only undercut her entire argument, but they are harmful. The disrespect she shows not only to those who don't agree with her, but to people in general (by not caring about the truth) contributes significantly to the toxicity of the level of discourse in America.

    Is she driven by a cause? Yes. Money. Money and fame for herself.

    If you want well-reasoned opinion from the Right, or from right-leaning folks, there are some out there. If you really want to be informed, it's better to read something by someone who gives a somewhat well-reasoned argument for thinking the way they do (beyond just "Liberals hate America"), Bill Krystol, Kenneth Pollack, David Frum -- they're able to articulate their positions without resorting to name calling and lying. They're far from perfect, and I'd argue with many of their positions, but at least they maintain a modicum of respectability and don't distort like Coulter and her ilk.
     

Share This Page