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Why Ann Coulter Fascinates (and Disagreeing with Rob)

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Amy Fried, Ph.D.
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On this very site, our own Rob Kall argued for leniency in the criticism of Ann Coulter, on the basis that others, including him, do the same. But as Paul Waldman, of Media Matters for America, pointed out on Thom Hartmann‘s Air America Radio show: how many other people regularly call for the murder of individuals, and continue to get major media showcases, such as a full hour on Hardball with Chris Matthews? Even if those on the Left may make personal comments about prominent figures, I don’t believe they often call for out and out assassination.

Coulter’s most recent call for someone’s death was the same day of her Hardball appearance:

“if I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”

But, as Waldman pointed out, it wasn’t the first time. As Media Matters documents:

“The conservative National Review
dropped her column after she responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, by stating that America should ‘invade their [terrorists'] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.’ In an interview with The New York Observer, Coulter stated that ‘[m]y only regret with [Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.’”

In most cases, people advocating such violence would be dismissed as crackpots, at the very least. In Coulter’s case, she’s embraced. My God, look what happened to John Kerry when he stated a simple fact: that Mary Cheney is an open lesbian! And it wasn’t done as an attack, but in reference to the effect of empathy on a policy position.

But there’s another point on which I disagree with Rob: even if some of us do engage in similar discourse, I think it’s a big mistake. First, I think - despite Coulter’s success with it - resorting to such tactics is not only a sign of anger, but a sign of powerlessness. It’s a last resort when you can’t get your opposition to change, or when you just don’t have a very good rational argument. That’s Coulter’s game, not ours. Also, given the fact that most of us on the Left are lucky to get 5 minutes to Coulter’s entire hour on air, we only have so much time to make our case. Personal attacks just take away from that effort - and suggest that we don’t have anything more substantial to say.

Now that I’ve responded to Rob, I’d like to add my theory of why so many find Coulter so fascinating. I believe it has to do with the fact that she is a perfect picture of adolescent irresponsibility (not to insult adolescents!) She makes outrageous statements without suffering any consequences. She benefits from aligning herself with the Religious Right, without being confined by the tenets of that philosophy. For instance, she said on Rivera Live in 2000:

"Let's say I go out every night, I meet a guy and have sex with him. Good for me. I'm not married."---

So, Ann, you’re saying you’re not saving yourself for marriage? Not exactly in line with what the Right calls “family values,” but it doesn’t stop her from being invited to talk to CPAC.

Finally, she engages in numerous falsehoods - Al Franken
devoted an entire chapter to many of them - again, without paying the price.

Do her looks, her extreme thinness in a thin-worshiping culture, and her mini-skirts help? Sure. But I think she reminds us all of our fondest teenage dreams.



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Amy Fried applies her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior to writing and activism on church-state separation, feminism, reproductive rights, corruption, media and veganism.

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