Ah. Another day, another Coulter clash. Initially, I wasn’t going to comment on Coulter’s remark about wishin John Edwards would be assassinated by terrorists or the recent exchange between Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards (kudos to Elizabeth for making the call, though there was never any hope that Coulter would stop the personal attacks). But then I saw David Kuo post that he’s waiting for conservative Christians to denounce Coulter.
I am waiting for conservative Christian activists to denounce Ann Coulter. I’m waiting and waiting and waiting and I’m waiting. This does not seem like a tough one, after all, Coulter has now publicly said of presidential candidation John Edwards she wished, “he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”
… Too many conservative Christian activists are behaving as if God is subordinate to their political desires…or worse that he is simply a pawn to be used in their desires.
Ann Coulter is a perfect little example of this problem. Countless conservative Christians embrace her and groups like the so-called Family Research Council feature her at banquets. And when she says things like wishing death upon a presidential candidate the Christians say nothing at all.
Kuo is in for a long wait, and what he wishes for will probably never happen. Organizations like the Family Research Council can’t denounce her precisely because so many conservatives embrace her. And so many conservatives embrace her because so many of them agree with even her most extreme statements. And that so may of them agree with her most extreme statements — getting a chuckle out of her wishing for Edwards assassination, laughing uproariously when she calls him a “faggot,” and nodding in agreement when she accuses 9/11 widows of enjoying their husbands’ death — is exactly why she won’t be condemned by them or any right wing organizations. She’s the voice of their base.
Kuo’s post reminded me of one that I saw on God’s Politics around the time of Coulter’s “f-bomb” at the CPAC conference, except then it was Becky Garrison holding forth that Coulter doesn’t speak for all Christians.
Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and other New Atheists cite Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, and Ann Coulter as ontological proof that all Christians are hypocrites. Using this logic, I could turn the tables around and pick out, say, the Marquis de Sade, Mao Tse-tung, and Marilyn Manson. I can use their stories to prove that all atheists are sadists, dictators, and really bad rock musicians. In the words of Dana Carvey (a.k.a. former President George H.W. Bush), “Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.”
While Phelps, Falwell, and Coulter clearly represent minority views, the Christian community still implodes in popular perception when it comes to the hot button issue of homosexuality. But as we pray about how to address this controversial topic, can we at least come to a consensus that proclaiming “God Hates Fags” during funeral services for servicemen killed in Iraq supposedly because they’re defending a pro-homosexual nation, blaming the 9/11 terrorist attacks on gays and lesbians, or, most recently, calling Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a “faggot” are moves that go directly against Jesus’ teachings?
Of course Coulter doesn’t peak for all Christians. But, as Kou’s post underscores, she does seem to speak both to and for a significant number of conservative Christians. Some do believe that “God hates fags” and that “faggots” are worthy of derision, discrimination, and worse. (Perhaps they make up the 20% to 30% of Americans who ensure that president Bush has some approval level to speak of, no matter what he does.) Until that’s addressed, they can’t denounce Coulter without denouncing themselves.
Back when I wrote the three post series on the “Bush recovery,” I came across a post explaining the reason why Bush hasn’t been impeached is because we’d have to impeach ourselves as well. Much the same can be said of why Coulter hasn’t been denounced by very many conservatives.
The Coulter/Hannity/Limabugh-led right wing is basically the Abu Grahib rituals finding full expression in an authoritarian political movement. The reason people like Rush Limbaugh not only were unbothered, but actually delighted and even tickled by, Abu Grahib is because that is the full-blooded manifestation of the impulses underlying this movement — feelings of power and strength from the most depraved spectacles of force. The only real complaint from Bush followers about the Commander-in-Chief is that he has not given them enough Guantanamos and wars and aggression and barbaric slaughter and liberty infringement. Their hunger for those things is literally insatiable because they need fresh pretexts for feeling strong.
And that is where Ann Coulter comes in and plays such a vital — really indispensible — role. As a woman who purposely exudes the most exaggerated American feminine stereotypes (the long blond hair, the make-up, the emaciated body), her obsession with emasculating Democratic males — which, at bottom, is really what she does more than anything else — energizes and stimulates the right-wing “base” like nothing else can. Just witness the fervor with which they greet her, buy her books, mob her on college campuses. Can anyone deny that she is unleashing what lurks at the very depths of the right-wing psyche? What else explains not just her popularity, but the intense embrace of her by the “base”?
In fact, writing those three posts has turned into something of a mini Dubya obsession for me, attempting to understand my fellow citizens by attempting to understand him. Via Bookmooch, I got my hands on a copy of Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder and The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty are on the way,Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America is on the waiting list, and The Lies of George W. Bush is waiting at the library, but I may order a copy of Fortunate Son: George W
. Bush and the Making of an American President. Of course, retaining some threads of my sanity may require trimming my Bush reading list.
In the next-to-last chapter of his psychoanalytic portrait of the president, Justin Frank explains why looking too closely at Bush, for many Americans, may mean taking an uncomfortably close look at ourselves; too close for comfort, even.
You don’t become a realize about others until you become a realize about yourself. We didn’t see ourselves in the Bush administration until we recognized our own wishes to sidestep the law, to kill those who we feel wronged us — and do it all without UN support, without an ounce of remorse or recrimination. And, by the same token, we will never be able to correct this course — to stop Bush and his administration’s thirst for vengeance — until we recognize him for who he is. To do so, we must first engage in some self-examination; we must disabuse ourselves of the illusion that we are nothing but wholesome and compassionate. In truth, most of us have the same amount of bloodlust as the next guy.
Or woman, in Coulter’s case.
The degree of introspection required to reach the kind of recognition Dr. Frank isn’t likely to take place among hardcore Coulter-philes. In the case of conservative Christians, that’s because the certainty that they are “nothing but wholesome and compassionate” — rendered so by having been “saved,” just as the president claims he was — means that introspection isn’t necessary. They don’t have to examine their motives because their motives are godly and therefore can only be good. And anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously on the side of evil.
That’s also why mainstream conservatives and Republicans either won’t denounce Coulter or will tread lightly when they dare criticize her. Because to do so will mean criticizing the base, or at least holding a mirror up to a base that wants to be base but doesn’t want see how base they are. And woe betide anyone who calls them, or her, on it.
In that sense, much like the country is the enabling family to Bush’s abstinent addict, the Republican party is like the battered spouse of the rage-a-holic; who — after many years of marriage, some good some less so — risks a beating (and perhaps quite a bit of financial loss) if the subject of divorce is broached, and will almost certainly face many more years of intimidation, punctuated with beatings, if they stay married. Denial is the safest route, but one that leads nowhere.
This latest Coulter clash is another moment, pregnant with possibilities for intervention and recovery, that will probably pass just like all the others.