Okay, I admit it up front; I am a progressive with liberal leanings. So when I set out to review Alan Colmes’ Red, White & Liberal, I had to do something that really required me to stretch and be flexible, which is what being liberal is really all about. I had to read, and review, the book from the objective standpoint of “Is this a book that really gives a good picture of what liberal views are?” rather than the standpoint of “Is this a book that I like because I agree with almost all of it?”
Yes, this is an excellent book for anyone who wants a real understanding of liberal views, liberal anger, and liberal thought. And the fact that it is tinged with humor, insight and personal revelations by the author makes it a great read to boot. Alan Colmes, co-host of Fox’s popular Hannity and Colmes pundit extravaganza, does a fantastic job of setting the stage for what it means to be a liberal, not just in today’s society but throughout history. In fact, he offers up plenty of historical facts, statistics and short bios of famous liberals, including Ben Franklin, Jesus and Eleanor Roosevelt, and how their liberal viewpoints came to shape the world.
Colmes, who never goes after his opponents with the same viciousness they attack him with, writes in an easy style interjected with powerful facts and truths about politics, religion and societal values that just may make a few conservatives rethink their position. At no time does he ever apologize for who he is, what he believes, or where he stands on issues, even when he is being threatened with violence (plenty of great e-mails he receives are included throughout; many are unbelievably hostile). His anger is palpable, but he always seems to have a good reason to back it up, rather than simply relying on his own inner fears about “others” that seem to be making America such a cold and hostile place, especially after 9-11.
The above paragraph would apply to any great author of any book, liberal or conservative, and that is the basis upon which I strived to formulate my review. Does Colmes just present his own views without any research, facts and figures to back them up? No. Does Colmes state that liberals are great, and all others suck? Oh, dear, no. In fact, he sings the praises of all opinions of all peoples in this eye-opening book, and though he does go after policies and beliefs that have made people suffer (i.e. poor, the disabled, veterans, women), he always does so with a certain respect for the basis of belief behind these policies, and how many times the actions of his opponents in the political/religious field are based on real fear and ignorance. It’s clear that Colmes has a great respect for his talk-show partner, Sean Hannity, and others who present conservative views with respect for their liberal counterparts. It’s the hateful, mean and close-minded conservatives he deeply takes issue with.
Lastly, does Colmes use humor and personal experience to form a foundation for presenting his views in a way that will get a reaction out of the reader? Yes. In fact, I kind of thought of Colmes, after reading this book, as the liberal version of Michael Moore (for all you conservatives out there who keep labeling Moore a liberal Democrat, he is an Independent/Green).
Clinton-haters will hate this book; liberal bashers will refuse to read it. Religious right-wingers will want to kill Colmes (and many e-mails express just such a desire) for many reasons. And the millions who thought O.J. guilty will shake their heads in dismay (wow, that chapter alone made me rethink everything – although I still disagree with Colmes). In fact, this is truly one book that will make you rethink a lot of things, whether you are liberal, progressive, moderate, conservative or stark naked.
Liberals and conservatives need strong, brave, honest voices to present their opinions, and on that level alone this book is successful. Without these voices on both sides of the fence, we really don’t have a democracy, and America slides ever closer to the “F” word (fascism, for those of you wondering). Nor do we ever learn about each other, or from each other. I know that living in a society where books from all kinds of great thinkers can get published, and read, makes me one happy American.
Try giving this book an objective read, and if you don’t learn anything new or feel your mind being stretched open just a little bit, then I truly am a monkey’s uncle…excuse, me, aunt. And please don’t send me copies of books by Ann Coulter or Michael Savage. On second thought, okay, go ahead. After all, as a progressive with liberal leanings, I am supposed to be open-minded and flexible…