I wrote this article on June 8, 2006. I’ve since read the book in question and stand by the opinions I voiced here.
Searching for something, anything to blog about, I was flipping through the channels last night and I hear something 9/11 something something widows something not right, then there was the Colmes half of Hannity & Colmes being particularly snarky about this something or other.
Now snarkiness is nothing new there, they both make it an artform, but this time Colmes’ indignation seemed genuine and not just showmanship to draw in viewers. I tuned in and learned that someone is bashing 9/11 widows with cruel and cold intention, someone is out to get them. Gasp. Who, or what, could possibly have anything negative to say about the people who lost their husbands in the worst act of terrorism our country’s soil has experienced (to date)? What evil, satanic force could be behind this?
Ann Coulter. She’s abrasive, she’s shrill at times, she’s opinionated, she’s controversial. Love her or hate her, Coulter is sure to elicit a strong response; I have a feeling that very few people are indifferent to her because her views, her ideas are shocking. Maybe I should rephrase that, the ideas aren’t shocking; what is shocking is that anyone would dare voice them. And therein lies my admiration for her. Coulter’s new book is causing quite the stir (let me just say I’ve ordered it but not yet received or read it, so keep that in mind as you read along here), and judging by interviews, round tables, and a variety of websites (including her own), I’d say that she’s stepping on a few pointy little toes. The book is called Godless: The Church of Liberalism, and the title seems very appropriate given the content described on her website and on amazon.com. She’s debunking Darwinism, calls liberalism itself a religion, and yes, asks us to listen to what war widows (among other mouthpieces of the liberal machine) are saying and why they are saying it. Here, then, is the demon seed who is slandering the widows of 9/11 heroes.
Or is she? Let’s just pause, put away our knee jerk reactions, and listen. What is she saying? It turns out that she is saying that granting someone political prestige and clout because, and only because, they are the victims of terrorism is a left wing tactic designed to silence naysayers who would attack from the right. Well, apart from the vast left wing conspiracy part, she has a point. It is tragic that 9/11 happened, it is tragic that so many women were widowed (I focus on this angle because the program I watched did, actually emphasizing Coulter’s point by diverting attention from the real issues), and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. But does the fact that this happened to them make them instant political experts or authorities in foreign or national policy? People whose word or view we are to accept without question? Does that experience make them the absolute power that we cannot question or challenge? Coulter says no, and I have to agree.
Holding up the widows of 9/11 and having them speak for the views of a group (in this case a political party) is disingenuous at best and downright immoral at worst. Coulter asserts that we (as a nation) are unable to question these women’s views because of their loss and pain, and I think she has a point. Indeed, Coulter’s attack (and it IS an attack) against the liberals who engage in this behavior is undercut, even ignored, as the headlines all scream, “Coulter Attacks 9/11 Widows.” The trouble with this statement is that it’s not her intent to do so. She’s a bit emotional and tends to sink into unattractive hyperbole (uh, calling the widows “Harpies” is a bit much), so I can see why she’s offended so many people on the left and on the right.
Coulter’s one of those voices that every movement needs in order to move forward: what Camille Paglia did for feminist backlash, Ann Coulter is doing for far right conservatism. Her over the top declarations and ardent belief in what she’s overstating make the rest of the conservatives look and sound sane and reasonable, like people that others will listen to because the alternative is so unappealingy harsh, rather ignorant, and often just plain old wrong (in terms of being incorrect). Yet Coulter’s got some points, valid ones, that no one else has vocalized or published, and her radical language, intensity, and aggressive defiance of the norms undercut this fact. She’s right, we don’t question or challenge the long line of victims that Democrats conveyer belt across the scene to undermine the current administration and its policy, we just feel terrible about their victimhood and swallow whole their criticisms, no questions asked.
Coulter is asking a valid question, though she should be asking both left and right wings, as both are guilty of the same tactic–though I do think liberals do it far more often and to far greater affect: Why do we accept the political views of homemakers or businesswomen that we’d never heard of before 9/11 and would never have heard of, much less listened to, if it hadn’t happened? Why do we accept wholesale the criticism of maimed soldiers who apart from their maiming are just like every other soldier? If it is BECAUSE they are victims and we feel sorry for them, I think that is the wrong reason to agree with and support anyone’s views. How is a widowed homemaker, for example, qualified to dictate political policy, to influence our nation’s foreign policy, to validate or invalidate any government action? She is not qualified. And hiding behind her or worse, holding her up as a puppet to speak for others, is exploitation of the vulnerable. Manipulating national policy by having someone no one can challenge without looking heartless and cruel mouth it may be clever, it may be savvy, but it’s immoral and deceptive. At what point do we eschew the red herring victim mouthpiece, and begin challenging the puppetmasters on both the left and the right?
Some useful links:
Some of Ann Coulter’s other books: How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) (October, 2004), Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism (June 2003); Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right (June 2002); and High Crimes and Misdemeanors:The Case Against Bill Clinton (August 1998).
Coulter’s website (not for the weak hearted): http://www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/welcome.cgi
Coulter in wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Coulter