The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage, by Greg Gutfeld (Crown Forum, 256 pp., $26)
Greg Gutfeld, host of Fox News’s sneaky, funny late-night show Red Eye, and co-host of its afternoon smash hit The Five, is an angry dwarf.
His words, not mine. But the truth is, he’s only a little bit shorter than the average male, and he’s the farthest thing from angry. To know Greg — which is to say, to see him on television, as his on-screen persona is pretty close to the real thing — is to know a giggly, irrepressible fizzy bundle of jokes and asides. Greg Gutfeld isn’t an angry dwarf at all. He’s a gleeful percolator of conservative commentary who just happens to be on the short side.
In his latest book, The Joy of Hate, Gutfeld takes his readers on a tour d’horizon of left-wing cant. His special hilarious outrage is trained on the usual League of Super Villains: climate-change Nazis, MSNBC hosts, economic nitwits, Sandra Fluke, anti-fat campaigners, and the Occupy crowd.
In other words, Obama’s base.
It’s familiar — and soothing — ground, especially after the stinging rebuke of Election Day. Hearing a witty and self-deprecating voice remind us of things that we know to be true — the Left is struck through with infuriating hypocrisy, celebrity activists are often clueless numbskulls, climate change isn’t, and “tolerance” is often a weasel-worded way of saying “shut up” — well, it’s a terrific book to sit in a corner and sulk with. (Sulking, by the way, has been my chief activity since about 10 p.m. on November 6, 2012.)
The book is filled with funny stuff. Here, for instance, is Gutfeld on whining law student Sandra Fluke, who demands that U.S. taxpayers pay for her contraception: “I’m sure Fluke is a nice lady. I just have a quarrel with the entitlement mindset. And remember, she’s only thirty. Maybe when she grows up, she’ll get it.”
Here he is taking on the anti-fat crusaders, and making a crucial point:
Right now, in New York (geographically part of America), we’ve got a mayor who demonizes giant sodas. We have experts . . . saying we should do the same with all fattening foods — their argument being that if fattening foods lead to fat people, who then greedily utilize more health care and thus are a burden on our society, why shouldn’t their greasy blubbery lifestyles be taxed?
Okay, then. Why not then tax sexually transmitted diseases?
And there, of course, is the heart of Gutfeld’s righteous indignation. The Left — which in his mind is composed of a natural and unspoken alliance among academics, the media, the Democratic National Committee, and lonely, dateless Tweeters — has been allowed to set the standard for what is considered offensive and what is not. The Left’s crucial weapon in the war for America’s culture is that they are the sole arbiters of what Gutfeld calls the “offense industry.”
Thus, you can make jokes about killing George Bush or Sarah Palin, but if you call Sandra Fluke a vulgar term, you’re out of bounds. You can insist that climate-change skeptics are anti-science, but if you dig too deeply into the “evidence,” you’re told to shut up and get with the team.
We know all of this, of course, and while it’s true that Gutfeld’s book doesn’t really break any news — “The Tolerant Left Isn’t Tolerant At All!” doesn’t merit a siren on Drudge — it’s effective in another, more important way.
Greg Gutfeld is cool. Yes, he’s shorter than average, but he’s hip in exactly the ways “hip” was invented to describe: He’s fearless, he’s honest (especially about his own shortcomings), and he’s witty. He knows lots of cool bands, smokes without apology, is not averse to excessive drink, and — crucial for the conservative movement — he lives in Manhattan, right in the middle of the swirl and rush of modern American popular culture.
He’s hip, and he’s on our side. More than that, really: He’s a warrior for exactly the kind of conservatism that the Left wants to smother. They’re perfectly happy with a right-wing movement filled with Bible-thumping rubes in cheap suits, but when a sharpie like Gutfeld shows up with his plugged-in cool and free-spirited dissent, they get a little nervous.
Because what Gutfeld is, really, is punk. Not a punk, but punk, as in: an adherent of the punk-rock movement of the late 1970s. Just as the natural enemy of the vampire is the werewolf, the natural enemy of the hippie is the punk. When Johnny Rotten, former member of the ur-punk band the Sex Pistols, appeared on Gutfeld’s Red Eye show, Gutfeld was in heaven:
No one, in my mind, was cooler than Rotten — he was smart, scary, and funny — and the songs were awesome. When he told me how much he enjoyed doing the show, I almost died. We went out drinking until the wee hours of the morning at a local Irish bar, and he told me how much he hates hippies and hipsters. I realized the guy I had posters of on my wall when I was a teen felt like me. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think Rotten was a conservative. I doubt he labels himself at all, but he really likes Obama. But I don’t think he trafficked in the repressive tolerance that flourishes all around him to this day. He just hates phonies.
Finally, in a book called The Joy of Hate, there’s something to hate: phonies.
Gutfeld, like Johnny Rotten, hates phonies. He hates the way they twist words like “tolerance” and “diversity” to mean “shut up” and “think what I think.” He hates their simpering tripwire sense of entitlement, and outrage, and hurt feelings. But if it’s hate, it’s an energizing and witty kind of hate. In his final chapter — a lovely remembrance of our mutual dear friend, and fellow punk, Andrew Breitbart — Gutfeld lists some of Andrew’s most dazzling qualities:
He was fiercely conservative and fiercely funny — which, for the Left, is simply unacceptable. He was highly moral but deeply twisted — a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that proved poisonous to adversaries. He was a patriot and a prankster — and according to mainstream “wisdom,” only people like Michael Moore or Abbie Hoffman could be like that. He was dead serious about his mission, but funnier than most comedians who’ve worked decades on their “craft.”
In other words, he was a lot like Greg Gutfeld. Thank God for both.