But is she right when she says this?
"The question isn't, 'Are all Muslims terrorists?' The question is, 'Are all terrorists Muslims?' And the answer right now is yes," Coulter said Sept. 6 at Xavier University.
Many in the audience loudly applauded that statement -- and its defensive follow-up: "I'm not disemboweling people or flying planes into skyscrapers."
Those who watched the Timothy McVeigh trial might disagree that all terrorists are Muslims. But the "right now" Coulter referred to time and again was post-9/11, so he doesn't really count. At least, he doesn't account in Coulter's world-view.
After several pleasant student remarks -- "Thank you for coming, Ann" -- and softball questions, a young woman asked how she can justify being so nasty and judgmental.
"Is that a Christian act?" the woman asked.
An equally enthusiastic burst of applause forced Coulter to wait to respond.
"He stated what the truth was. ...He wasn't a pantywaist," Coulter said, referring to Jesus' anger with the Pharisees.
Well, if Jesus was pissy -- and that's good enough for Coulter -- then that was good enough for a chunk of the audience. More resounding applause.
I didn't applaud anything; I had to write notes -- no recorders were allowed -- and balance my notebook over the digital recorder I'd snuck in. Fortunately no body searches were conducted at the door.
I did laugh when Coulter said of the presidential libraries, "Bill Clinton's library is the only one with an 'adults only' section."
Coulter said Jesus Christ used humor -- not that she was comparing herself to Christ, she assured the audience of 1,200. Coulter said her use of sarcasm, name calling and not sparing anyone's feelings is the same thing Jesus did when he spoke the ugly truth that people didn't want to hear.
A very good friend, a Buddhist monk, was positively giddy when I told him in a dejected tone that I was going to cover Coulter's speech.
"Tell her (I) said hello," he said with a big-ass grin.
I was stunned.
He said, in effect, that Coulter speaks the truth as she sees it. She says she's a Republican and conservative and she doesn't change her mind to make other people happy.
And isn't that what we all long for? To throw off the confines and strictures of what we're "supposed" to say and think and feel -- and simply be ourselves? So she was paid $20,000 to do it.
Coulter is right: She doesn't give a rat's ass what other people think of her. Responding to another student, she encouraged the young woman to do the same. Her Christian beliefs are right -- and as long as she stands behind them, then nothing anybody says to her matters.
It's easy to pick apart that kind of statement: What makes Christians so superior? Who says those beliefs are the right beliefs? Add in her little ditty about immigration and it gets easier to criticize. The United States shouldn't be like a department store, she said.
"We should pick the best," Coulter said of those wanting to enter this country. "We should pick the smartest ones ... the ones with Ph.D.s, the richest, the coolest, the best looking. We ought to have our pick of the best."
Insert more applause here.
How much more elitist can you get? It's a good thing we didn't have that kind of policy when Coulter's white, blond-haired ancestors entered this country.
I really wanted to be in front of the Gallagher Student Center covering the protest by about 200 people. In the weeks before Coulter's appearance, Xavier Alliance and Equality Ohio raised $26,000 in donations as a protest. On the night of her speech the two groups distributed checks to student groups that support diversity, social justice and other "Counter Coulter" activities. The demonstration was open to all media -- unlike Coulter, who banned video cameras and interviews with reporters.
The university's PR department bent over backwards to make sure the press knew how to get to the protest. And why not? After all, the exterior and interior of the building where Coulter spoke was filled with burly-looking, somber-faced campus security and cops with guns.
Then I remembered my friend's words about speaking truth. According to what I've read, Coulter was right: Much of what Jesus had to say was unpopular and threatening. It was his version of the truth, and he spoke it regardless of what others thought.
The Chinese-American writer Amy Tan -- ironically one of the beautiful and talented and now rich people Coulter would approve for immigration if she hadn't been born here -- agrees with the importance of speaking truth. In her book, The Opposite of Fate, is a chapter titled "Required reading and other dangerous subjects."
"I can't imagine being a writer and having others dictate to me what I should write, why I should write it and whom I should write it for," she says. "I have the freedom to write whatever I want. I claim that freedom."
We all have the right to choose and believe in our own truth. So Ann Coulter is right: If we stand behind our beliefs when we speak, then we have nothing to fear. The part she gets wrong is her divisive rhetoric and focusing on differences. Crushing the enemy and dancing on their heads only brings about more war. Non-violent, collaborative efforts to find common ground and work toward creative solutions that everyone can agree on gets results. Maybe someone should ask Coulter if Gandhi was a pantywaist. ©
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