blowing Ann's cover

I admit it: I love the Yes Men. Comic brilliance.

And they have an ongoing project–and I think it’s their biggest–a deep-cover prank so brilliant, it blows my mind. I don’t say “it blows my mind” lightly: my mind is not easy to blow at this point. But when I finally figured this out, I had no other way to describe it.

I’m speaking, of course, of the career of Ann Coulter.

Doubts? Just to be clear, let’s review one of the Yes Men’s prank methodologies.

The Yes Men represent themselves as members of an establishment organization, perhaps not explicitly right-wing, but serving a right wing agenda: perhaps some Bush-aligned government office, perhaps a world trade group.

Make an appearance at an appropriate public event, usually a conference. They’ve made several news show appearances, on BBC and CNBC. Perhaps a trade conference, perhaps a Heritage Foundation meeting. Get the confidence of the audience.

Give a speech. Work up to some proposal or statement that is completely outlandish, but based on the premises of that organization. Package it in a presentable, acceptable way.

Conservative audiences have been fooled into accepting slavery, using “Justice Vouchers” to allow repressive regimes to trade for the right to abuse their citizens, or a scheme for rationalizing death for profit. Their hidden biases are exposed, and they are discredited.

Ann? Ann targets a different crowd. She’s less focused on issues around globalization and injustice, and more focused on exposing the hypocrisy and gullibility of many on the religious right. She targets cultural conservatives more than social conservatives.

But the approach is similar: rehabilitating Joe McCarthy? Calling John Edwards a faggot? Or this page of quotes? Or this gaffe? How can you take her seriously? The point is, some actually do. They don’t get the joke.

She’s been at it longer than the Yes Men have. But it’s clear she has been an inspiration. And what does it mean to be a Yes Man, really? After all, you too can be a Yes Man. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them collaborating more directly in some way soon.

Now, being as I’m fairly liberal, why would I blow poor Ann’s cover like this? Well, I don’t really think I am: she has a committed audience. They might not like what I’m saying, but they won’t believe it anyway.

On the other hand, there are others who think they oppose her, who also don’t get the joke. Fellow liberals who find her infuriating. I was one of them for a while. I figure there’s no harm in letting them in on the prank. It is pretty funny.

Further, though I’m generally liberal, I’m also honest, and there are conservatives I respect. Honest disagreement is an important part of my politics.

Most of the conservatives I respect find her more infuriating than liberals do. And while I may oppose them in certain contexts, there’s no reason to be cruel. Besides, I think she illuminates an important distinction within conservatism: people who have a commitment to authentic American values, and people who will fall for fascism the first time they get scared. Terrorism’s low-hanging fruit: people terrorized-waiting-to-happen. And I think it’s import to know where we all stand with regard to that.

So, Ann, I have to say: great work. Hilarious. Way to show those America-haters. Nudge, nudge,wink, wink.

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