BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Joy of Hate’

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THE JOY OF HATE: HOW TO TRIUMPH OVER WHINERS IN THE AGE OF PHONY OUTRAGE
By Greg Gutfeld
Crown Forum, $26, 256 pages

Many comedians whose strong suit is observational humor have become incredibly wealthy simply by stating the obvious — with a twist. You hear one of their jokes and say, “It’s funny because it’s true.” If, after “funny,” you add “and annoying,” you have the guts of Greg Gutfeld’s latest offering, “The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph Over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage.” This edgy book highlights the increasingly obvious tactics employed by liberals to control free speech, as well as the culture, in today’s America.

Mr. Gutfeld is host of Fox television’s late-night “Red Eye” and co-host of “The Five,” on the same network. His writing mirrors his conversational style, perhaps best described as acerbic Woody Allen blended with Dennis Miller-esque references, equal parts obscure and familiar in nature.

It’s abundantly clear in page after page of “The Joy of Hate” that Mr. Gutfeld has had his fill of political correctness. America’s P.C. saturation has stymied civil, sincere and open-minded debate. Any conversation or observation taking a stand against what the politically correct have defined as protected classes (i.e., minorities, women, misunderstood anarchists) or protected policies (e.g., affirmative action, global warming, open borders) have been smeared as “intolerant.” Today’s “tolerati” (used by Mr. Gutfeld to describe those who find potentially offensive actions in every area of life) will bully their detractors into submission, even though they themselves are ardently anti-bullying. Hypocrisy runs free-range in liberal circles.

In some ways, “The Joy of Hate” follows a path laid out by Mr. Gutfeld in his previous book, “The Bible of Unspeakable Truths.” Certain common-sense ideas have been dismissed in our politically correct world simply because they have been pronounced “wrong” by those controlling American culture.

Herein lies the us-versus-them battle. The regular people are the uncool, virtual outcasts in today’s hip America. Those who control the culture — what we read, watch and learn — are the cool. Mr. Gutfeld illustrates this best in his chapter “Pop Stars” (except with an extra “o” added), counterpointing the reception of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements by the media, the Obama administration and Hollywood. Tea Partyers are the moms, dads and grandparents (definitely uncool) of many of the student squatters of Occupy Wall Street (the cool). Both movements claimed to be speaking truth to power, except that power today identifies overwhelmingly with the OWS side of the equation.

Global warming hooey is addressed in the chapter aptly titled “The Skeptic Tank.” Here, Mr. Gutfeld pulls a neat maxim from his personal bag of common sense: “Good scientists doubt.” Science, by its very nature, is unsettled on the huge issues, and both sides need to be heard to find the truth. But the tolerati are quick to apply “repressive intolerance” to this important issue. Mr. Gutfeld explains that “tolerance is not deemed necessary if you reformat the game board so anyone who questions the basic assumptions is disqualified from playing.”

Belief in man-made global warming “has become their religion, replacing the gaping maw in their own life that something more substantial was meant to fill. Like God. Or pilates.”

Because today’s liberals see themselves as more enlightened than any preceding generation, they seek to control more and more of all peoples and their environments. “Not only is the world in peril, but you can do something to stop it. And anyone standing in between you and that goal must not be tolerated.” As a result, in many of today’s so-called crises, progressives solve problems that don’t exist with solutions that don’t work.

Although there is much in “The Joy of Hate” to keep conservative heads nodding, not every viewpoint of the author fits neatly into a conservative construct. Consider Mr. Gutfeld’s take on morality generally, and homosexual “marriage” specifically.

Mr. Gutfeld challenges Christians to make their point about morality without relying on tenets found in the Bible. One might ask, however, where is the basis of right and wrong if not in the belief in God and what He has revealed to mankind in what believers regard as His very words?

Addressing the subject of homosexual “marriage,” Mr. Gutfeld tells those who wish to accept it, as he does, that they need to “bear with the parts [of religious beliefs] you find ridiculous.” A greater number of people, however, would agree that the opposite is certainly much more ridiculous.

Still, Mr. Gutfeld promotes tolerance throughout “The Joy of Hate,” and will vehemently defend one’s right to be whomever and whatever one chooses to be — at the same time encouraging people to cut others similar slack.

“The Joy of Hate” closes with an insightful and heartfelt tribute to a man the author greatly admired, Andrew Breitbart. In a chapter dubbed “The Bard of Brentwood,” Mr. Gutfeld writes, “Breitbart took great joy in tying the tentacles of phony tolerance into knots. He was a cross between a Sudoku puzzle and anthrax — complicated and deadly highly moral but deeply twisted a patriot and a prankster.”

Mr. Gutfeld challenges the reader to take a stand against the intolerance imposed by those who pride themselves on tolerance. He ultimately calls for “smart intolerance what we used to call common sense.” Exchanging the popular politically correct attitude with one of good, old-fashioned common sense may be America’s best hope to enjoy true fairness and civility.

Albin Sadar is author of “The Men’s Underwear Repair Kit” (Running Press, 2008).

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