Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Coulter Goddess of Virulent Conservatism

There are obviously a fair number of people that enjoy reading books by Ann Coulter. Previous offerings from the author have been very successful and her current book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” is at the top of The New York Times bestsellers list.

In the book, Coulter skewers liberals, once again. This time, as the title suggests, she writes that liberals reject God and have a disdain for all people of faith, but it’s what she penned about four New Jersey widows whose husbands were killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11 that has drawn the ire of liberals as well as some conservatives.

Coulter writes, “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefarazzis. I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

Coulter objects to the “Witches of East Brunswick,” as she calls them, because they, like many others, called for an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks. She also points to their support of Democrat John Kerry’s presidential candidacy in 2004 as problematic.

“If people are going to use a personal tragedy in their lives to inject themselves into a national debate, I‘m sorry. You can‘t just say, we‘re off limits. We‘re going to invoke the fact that our husbands died and you can‘t criticize us,” she said.

To say that Americans have lost the ability to be civil towards one another as it pertains to political discourse would be an understatement, but it didn’t begin with Ann Coulter or Fox News or any other entity that views liberals and all else on the left as the Anti-Christ. They may be perfecting the genre, but they didn’t invent it. Frankly, fierce partisanship and strong opinions should be welcomed within political debate. Fierce partisanship from Democrats in Congress might well have persuaded more of them to bravely vote against Resolutions on the war in Iraq.

What Coulter has written specifically regarding the 9/11 widows and often what she has said on various topics amounts to very bad taste. However, the essence of what she wrote about the widows can certainly be viewed as a legitimate observation, and a cleverer author would have written it much better. But that doesn’t sell books, and Ann Coulter’s job is to sell books.

Voltaire said “I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Free speech should always be defended, even when it is in bad taste, because more often than not, it is uplifting and beneficial to the common good. What’s interesting is that while most intelligent people would defend free speech, even Coulter’s, she would not. “Liberals are always accusing us of repressing their speech. I say let’s do it. Let’s repress them. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of the First Amendment,” Coulter said during an Oct. 21, 2005, speech at the University of Florida.

A question that should be asked is this: are Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, and Sean Hannity the best mouthpieces that the conservative movement has to offer us today? And are they truly conservatives? William F. Buckley, a man for whom the word conservative fits like a glove, once said of the current president, “Bush is conservative, but he is not a conservative.”

The same could be said of Coulter. If Buckley, George Nash, George Will, Pat Buchanan and Tony Blankley can be viewed as traditional fiscal, cultural and/or religious conservatives, Coulter and her gang should be given a new branch on the conservative tree, if they belong there at all: Virulent Conservatives.

Virulent Conservatives are more than fiercely partisan. They are hateful and bitter towards those that disagree with them and with the current administration, using words like un-patriotic and un-American to describe people that dare to utilize maybe the greatest gift the Founding Fathers gave us: dissent. Harry Truman said “once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

It was sixteen years after Barry Goldwater’s landslide loss to Lyndon Johnson in 1964’s presidential election before Ronald Reagan’s election cemented the resurgence of the modern conservative movement. In between, Richard Nixon was the first actor in Buckley’s “conservative, but not a conservative” movie, thirty-two years before George W. Bush got the leading role. Although one could argue that it was the Johnson campaign that brilliantly painted Goldwater as a dangerous extremist, Goldwater himself provided much fuel for the fire that would eventually engulf his political career.

Reagan learned well in 1964 that dangerous rhetoric and unnecessary vitriol need not be the main tenet of the conservative movement. Whether you agreed with him or not, the persuasive and stylish way in which he put forth his conservative beliefs is something that is sorely lacking from within the virulent wing of the present-day conservative movement. Coulter and her gang certainly may keep serving up the bloody red meat that their minions continue to lap up, but, eventually, liberals and conservatives will ultimately yearn for more honest, decent and thought-provoking debate. Unfortunately for Coulter, Virulent Conservatives, and the next Republican presidential nominee, that yearning might reach its peak in 2008.

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