Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's Doubting Coulter -- At First and Mark Goldblatt's The Politics of Pity:
Great articles by both gentlemen, and here's my take. I'm a social worker (or antisocial worker, depending on my workload) at a large public hospital in New York City. One of my routine morning tasks is to monitor and document the transfer of patients from my own medicine inpatient unit to others. Occasionally the clerical logbook in which these transfers are noted simply say, "expired." I've always hated that term, as it reduces a person to a carton of milk or an out-of-date drivers license. It's just tacky. Inanimate, insensate objects wear out; but people, like Mr. Judge's mother, actively die, regardless of whether the death is a willing one or not, or an ugly one or not. My own dad's Visa to this world expired on a table in the ER and my last memory of him is his foot involuntarily twitching. Whatever else, the man was an active participant -- he died.
Since death is humanity's common fate the manner of passing is at least as important as the fact of passing, as thousands of years of cross-cultural rite and ritual have established. There are those who die well, and some who die badly. Most people, I suspect understand what that means. A "good" death is held to be painless, natural, honorable, dignified end that may or may not serve a noble, greater cause; a "bad death" is painful, degrading, isolating, and humiliating for the deceased. The one culminates in, say, a Viking funeral; the other in, say, a pauper's mass grave. And there are some deaths that fall between these categories: a soldier, e.g., who perishes in battle, or an end-stage Alzheimer's patient in a hospice setting, may have died an honorable death, but not necessarily a dignified one.
Whether the victims of 9/11 died well or died poorly is something I can't quite decide on. But I can't quite bring myself to see them as martyrs as much as poor bastards who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The wives criticized by Ms. Coulter seem to be couching their criticisms in terms of martyrdom. I don't know if the victim of a late-fifteenth-century auto-da-fe burning alive would see his end as "good" in the above sense, but I do know that martyrs are by definition willing victims. If this is what Ann was getting at, I'm glad her mouth is bigger than mine. If not, Ann, a little tact, okay?
-- Daniel A. Frater
Kew Gardens, New York
Ms. Coulter's pointed comments illustrating the current liberal tactic of using people who have lost a love one, served in war or are a victim to present political points for various liberal organizations is interesting. It is true that these people become immune to challenge or criticism by wrapping themselves in their victim-hood. The virulent response from liberals to Ms. Coulter's comments are evidence that she has definitely struck a nerve. The reaction of conservative spokesmen and Republicans is even more interesting, however.
The general conservative response to Ms. Coulter's comments has been attempting to distance themselves from her remarks. Some have even attempt to apologize for her. While this is certainly in keeping with the civility reserved for true victims of catastrophic events, it may not be such a good idea for the current political arena.
Ms. Coulter made the point she did for a reason. She phrased it as she did for a reason. I would suggest that conservatives simply stay out of the debate at this point and allow Ms. Coulter to carry her own water. So far, she has proven her point in every interview that I have seen and, in some, those debating her make her point for her. Let's see where this debate leads, shall we? A glaring truth may just be revealed to the masses. That might very well turn out well for conservatives and it won't hurt book sales any, either.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Although Mark made some valid points, the death of a friend (however close) can NEVER compare to the death of a spouse. Allow these women the courtesy to describe their husbands' deaths however they choose -- without judging them. Grief related to the loss of a spouse is not a process that is controlled and placid -- there is frequently a lot of anger involved.
I'm a fan of Coulter (who happens to think her energies would be better directed elsewhere) but I'm also a widow -- not a 9/11 widow. And there was also no joy in watching my young husband gasp is his final breath on an airplane and die on the floor of the aisle as the resuscitation efforts failed.
Please do pretend to act as though you know what we have been through.
-- Holly Sinclair Goodwin
Whether one agrees with Ann Coulter's way of expressing it, her point is well taken. The New Jersey Chicks chose to politicize their grief, and at some point, therefore, their exemption from criticism expires. Ms. Coulter says: the expiration date is past, off with the gloves! Two kinds of people constitute the electorate in our nation: 1) those who claim some kind of victim-hood (gimme money and/or power and don't criticize me or I'll report you to the PC police, media, bureaus, trial lawyers, etc.), and, 2) those who would never think of living their lives in such a disgusting fashion and disdain those who do. Generally speaking, those in Group 1 gravitate toward the Democrat Party (what is the party other than a coalition of complaint groups?), and those in Group 2 gravitate toward the Republican Party, believing (for the most part, correctly) that those in Group 1 are merely moralizing while trying to pick their pockets. Ms. Coulter has hit this wedge squarely on the head.
-- Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The "Jersey Girls" righteousness and graphic details towards their loved one's deaths on 9/11 also point to another attempt by liberals to score an argumentative point that cannot be responded to. This is a common trait among the left: Jack Murtha, John Kerry, you can't criticize them unless YOU ALSO FOUGHT in Vietnam. You can't criticize behavior of those that died of AIDS because of their own personal conduct. You can't criticize any Hip-Hop lyrics because "it's a black thing." Many groups and causes have good moral foundations upon which we should advocate. We cannot however, default to them the territory to speak as "experts," or as the moral authority.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
In a nutshell, after reading your provocative article about the insane article Ms. Coulter put out where she rationalizes going after a person's private space to grieve, I find only one sentence worth writing to you, as you yourself said Mr. Judge, I do believe that because you feel you can choose how one should grieve the death of a loved one, for you being so incredibly heartless, you just may be as you said "going to hell" where you can say "hi" to all the terrorists we have killed up 'till today. It's just that simple...how do you sleep at night?
-- "Disgusted in New York"
Precisely, Mr. Judge. Ann can be blunt, indelicate, and brutally honest, but she cannot and will not be manipulated by those who have sold their souls for a mess of political pottage. She believes we still need a two-by-four up the side of our pointy heads to focus our attention on reality and she delivers. Her books are an adult read for adult times.
See you in hell, brother!
-- Mike Showalter
Are people these days really so hopelessly obtuse? How many right-leaning commentators have been shocked (shocked!, I tell you) that Ann Coulter noted how greatly the New Jersey widows have "enjoyed" the deaths of their husbands. They clearly have. Why can't you say so? Does NO ONE have a sense of humor (however dark) today?
There is no mystery here about her meaning. Let me help you out. It is obvious that she is referring to the mileage these women have derived in terms of status, publicity and admiration from their outspoken criticism of the administration.
It shouldn't have to take 1,000 words to arrive at this conclusion.
-- Dorothy Meyers
I just read "Doubting Coulter -- At First." I found the article to be despicable, subtle slander of grieving widows. From what I could gather, this is Mr. Judge's logic:
A) People who talk about how a loved one died are doing so for self-gain, because it is painful to talk about
B) I and my friends do not talk about our dead friends because it is too difficult.
C) The widows acknowledged that their husbands burned to death.
Therefore, the widows are out for political gain.
As you can see, there is no actual connection between A, B, and C. There is no logical connection, but there is a strong insinuation.
As for this gem:
Curse me, I know I'm going to hell for this: Why did the Jersey Girls describe the deaths of their husbands with such startling precision? "Men that we loved burned alive."
I think it would be a natural reaction that if a crazy woman accused you of enjoying your husband's death on the national stage, it would be proper to say, "No, I did not enjoy watching my husband burn to death. It was very painful for me and my family. It is not enjoyable. And besides, you're the one making a profit with your accusations."
This is the first article I have ever read in the American Spectator. I am 21, white, middle class, liberal, and don't know if I'm part of your demographic. However, Mr. Judge managed to make it a horrible first impression. I am not swayed or amused by his pathetic arguments which make a pitiful, emotional, and cowardly attempt to support Ms. Coulter in her crusade against widows who would like to use their husband's deaths to protect civil liberties and force the president to act on his words and keep America safe.
-- Jim Fay
People with rational minds are able to describe horrible events, even those which strike families, with candor; they have done so since the ancient Greeks. And people with rational minds in the face of disasters call for investigations into the reasons for disasters and urge preventative measures for the future. Now what has Ann Coulter done in the face of 9/11? She slanders, twists facts and lives as a hypocrite who talks about God, but belongs to no church nor attends one regularly. As a libertarian who believes in individual strength and rational choice, I'll take the Jersey Girls anytime over this political performance artist in a cocktail dress at 7 a.m. -- give me a break.
-- George R. Johnson
Associate Faculty Associate EPD
College of Engineering
University of Wisconsin
Mark Gauvreau Judge is a "judge" in name alone. Who is he to judge what a person says about their loved one? He has no right to say how a person should describe how someone they loved lost their lives.
One of my cousins was shot to death in a Miami restaurant while having breakfast. It took me a long while to be able to articulate what happened to him. Finally being able to say the phrase "shot to death" enabled me to deal with the fact that a close family member was taken from us.
Mr. Judge reminds me of a woman with whom I worked at a television station in Miami. I told some friends that I am a descendant of American Indians. She quickly corrected me and said, "You shouldn't say Indian," then began telling me why my syntax was in error. Once she was finished, I quietly explained to her that my full-blood Cherokee cousins call themselves Indians. She shut her mouth.
I can't believe that Mr. Judge wasted valuable space mincing methods of speech to temper the vitriolic hatred of four innocent women belched about the pages of Ann Coulter's book. At the end of the day we must realize that not only are the people who died on "9-11" victims of a horrific crime but the family members they left behind are victims as well. People have no right to tell someone who they should be, how they should perceive themselves, or how they should grieve for someone they've had snatched from their lives in a violent manner in such a public forum.
We must realize that Ann Coulter is trying to sell a book. There is no other interest to her but that which governs the lives of most dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives -- self advancement at the expense of anyone in our path. The four New Jersey women, the wives of those poor souls who perished on "9-11," stand in Ms. Coulter's path because they're not letting America forget what the war on terrorism should really be about. It's about punishing murderers and not about trampling on the rights of innocent Americans.
Shame on Ann Coulter for being such an insensitive less than human thing. May she rot in hell. Shame on Mr. Judge for defending her hatred and ugly meanness.
-- Von Williams
I don't think you should give up on Ann Coulter, and I know you haven't. Her strength, and yours, is that while you have strong first impressions as you did here, you settled down and gave it a second thought.
You and Ann may both be mistaken in your take on this but you've both given it the extra thought that is generally needed to get to the heart of any matter.
It probably took more than a little courage to put this into print!
-- Cam Lynn
Mark Gauvreau Judge wrote: "Why did the Jersey Girls describe the deaths of their husbands with such startling precision?"
Answer: Leverage...leverage meant to silence response to their political rants...emotional leverage for political purposes...as Coulter has written.
The description of which Judge writes is the "tell" to the political intentions of the Jersey Girls and their DNC handlers. They wish to make unseemly use of their husbands' deaths and then bray about unseemliness when anyone dares question their motivation -- forgetting the entire time that the First Amendment permits both lines of speech. The Jersey Girls would have it that only they may speak.
-- Reid Bogie
Ann Coulter represents the Taliban wing of the Republican Party. Throw in a few Christian fundamentalists, some AK-47 gun lovers, some of the "deport the Mexicans" crowd, and all of the contributors to Tom DeLay and you have a perfect recipe for the Democrats to regain the House, and perhaps the Senate and White House.
Where do people like Coulter come from? I'm a Republican and I sure don't want to live in her hateful, intolerant world. She needs to cut back on the testosterone and get in touch with her feminine side.
-- Barry Ronan
I recently purchased a copy of Ann Coulter's compelling new book, Godless, and have read the lengthy passage devoted to exposing the self-righteous political posturing of Kristen Breitweiser and the other "Jersey Girls" who are trying to capitalize on their husbands' deaths in the 9/11 terrorist attacks to score partisan points against President Bush. Coulter's takedown of these four "bereaved widows" is well researched and utterly persuasive. I, for one, applaud what Coulter has done. She similarly eviscerates Cindy Sheehan. Thanks again, Ann! Just because someone has "lost a loved one" does not endow that person with "absolute moral authority" (in Maureen Dowd's absurd words) or any special political insight. The Jersey Girls are no less deserving of a strong, critical response than any other liberal blowhard. Why anyone on the right would think otherwise is beyond me. Once again, Ann Coulter demonstrates that the strongest backbone in the Republican Party today belongs to a 100-pound woman.
-- Steven M. Warshawsky
New York City
Ann Coulter is the gift that keeps on giving -- for the Democrats. They can point to here in every campaign. Americans are not as stupid as you think. They know hate when they hear it and read it.
-- Jill Perry
Ann Coulter is a brainless little twit who tosses her hair around much like Cher did many years ago. Her words are dangerous and inflaming. Why anyone with half a brain reads what she writes, is unfathomable to me. Frankly, at her age, one would think she should have acquired at least a little wisdom. As a woman, she's an embarrassment to my species.
-- Janet Niemeyer
It is rarely mentioned that, by act of Congress, most of those who lost loved ones on 9/11 are now millionaires. This includes the Jersey Girls who, in addition to the money, now feel that they are better than, smarter than, and more privileged than the rest of us. Did this act of Congress also bestow special intelligence and insight on these women? I think not. These women would better serve this country by shutting their mouths and clipping their coupons to further enhance their windfall. Also ask them the following: How many of the survivors of our military men and women who have lost their lives in all the wars this country has ever been involved in were made millionaires? Even "six-figure-aires." Other acts of terrorism (Oklahoma City, the Pan Am disaster over Lockerbie, Scotland, and others) can be added to the mix. Why were these survivors not similarly blessed by our beneficent Congress?
-- C.D. Lueders
I'm for Coulter, once again she has hit the nail square on the head. I feel sorry for the family and friends of those 3,000 killed by terrorists on 9/11 and for the more than 4,000 babies murdered (aborted) that same day and every day since. Grief is important, but to attack others and hide behind the fact that you are grieving and therefore untouchable is wrong. It is a ploy of liberalism to claim the right to a one sided gun fight as long as they are the only ones who are allowed to shoot. I wish we could clone Ann Coulter so she could be President, and Senator and House member for district in America. Thank God for someone who has the courage of conviction and is on the right side.
-- Amo Stephens
That column about Ann Coulter and the "9/11 Widows" by Mark Gauvreau Judge is about the most desperate, grasping-at-straws, steaming heap that I have read in a long time. He (and you for publishing it) should be ashamed -- big time.
-- Bruce Thomas
I wish to congratulate Mark Gauvreau Judge on a carefully and brilliantly written article. The calm approach of journalism depicted maturity with such a tender issue. I commend and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
-- David Irish
As I keep pointing out to everyone to whom I speak of this issue with. It is not her topic that I take issue with. I agree with her.
What started this whole thing was a really bad TV appearance on the Today Show. This woman has no idea how to appear in front of a camera without sounding like an attack dog. As we know, the media left paints conservatives as angry, mean and heartless . These days it is especially important not to look like that to none political junkies. All they see is a skinny, incoherent, angry blonde on TV insulting 9/11 widows -- not a great image to portray these days when we have low poll numbers to begin with. We have our useless Republican Congress to bring our poll numbers down. We don't need Ann Coulter giving the opposition more darts to throw at us.....
-- David Busby
Mark Gauvreau Judge and I must have been experiencing the same quandary about Ann Coulter. I have always enjoyed Ann's wit and bravery in exposing the bankruptcy of the liberalism for exactly what she says it is. Last week for a brief moment the information about Ann's comments towards the 9/11 widows changed my mind. I do not take kindly to the Michael Moore types bad mouthing my country or my President so how could justify supporting what Ann wrote? I quickly concluded that Ann Coulter is no Michael Moore. Ann Coulter writes and speaks with facts, she is on my side in the preservation of liberty and justice and she is not afraid to enter the devils den to defend her opinions against all challengers.
-- Jay Carlson
Mr. Judge's piece is the first honest opinion about Ann Coulter's comments re the Jersey widows. As conservative bloggers and talking heads rushed to condemn her, deep down they all knew she right. While we're at it, is there any doubt Cindy Sheehan is nothing more than a media whore? Or that many Dems are devastated over Zarqawi's demise? Or that Nick Berg's father is either a nut or only too happy to trade on his son's untimely death?
Sure, Coulter's bomb-thrower and it's probably smart for conservatives to distance themselves from her remarks, but somebody had to say it.
-- Dale R. Mader
Ever since 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission, the Jersey Girls presence on the American body politic have left an ashy, chemically residual taste in my mouth. It took Anne Coulter to clarify for me what I knew but refused to identify.
These self-absorbed widows were probably self-absorbed wives, too. Their meal and mall tickets were suddenly terminated on 9/11 and all Americans were suddenly responsible to provide them with a lifestyle they were accustomed to having. Why? Have we showered widows of war dead with money? Have these mall-aholics ever even said "thank you" for the outpouring of charity showered on them by ordinary Americans? I don't think so.
Instead, they looked to Northeastern Democrat Senators for inspiration. They "Schumerred" their way toward TV cameras, knocking over anyone standing between themselves and any reporter. They "Torricellied" themselves by requesting and demanding more and more cash for themselves. And in all "Hillary-us-ness" used their husbands to posit themselves front and left to the American people.
There's an old Jewish joke about why married Jewish men die first -- because they want to! I don't wish to put the rest of my thoughts in writing.
Thank you, Ann, for being so succinct.
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey
It is ever more clear to me that if one has a celebrity standing for any reason whatsoever -- from Charlie Manson to Barbra Streisand -- that confers a "knowledge" of almost any topic on which the celebrity wishes to expound. One has only to listen to the babblings, presented without any critical analysis by the media, of the ignoratti such as Julia Roberts, The Dixie Chicks and George Clooney. George at least, my wife tells me, is pleasant to look at.
All of them are of very modest education, speak in very small words cobbled into even shorter sentences -- soundbite, soundbite, soundbite -- is what's important. This is continuing proof that America is being dumbed down. Quite frankly, though I enjoy Ms. Coulter's prose, I have no idea who anointed her an expert on anything. But at least she limits her expositions to the obvious: liberals are none too smart.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
I wonder if Ms. Coulter is aware of the irony in her hypocrisy? Her website warns potential slanderers of dire consequences, yet she had no compunctions about slandering the 9-11 Widows. She derides the Jersey Girls and accuses them of relishing and profiting off their husbands' deaths, while apparently having no qualms or misgivings about her own attempts at capitalizing on others' misfortunes. Ah, Capitalism! Is this what the book's about, or were these carefully crafted lines thrown in as a publicity stunt, to get people's jaws wagging, "Look at me! Look at me! Buy me!" in a sleaze-filled bid for attention that embodies the same amount of class as the release of the Paris Hilton video which catapulted her to "fame"?
-- Lorri Gustafson
While some of Ann Coulter's remarks may have gone over the top, the particular one Mark Judge uses is a cheap shot taken completely out of context. What she said was, in effect, the 911 wives in question were "enjoying the CE-LEB-BRI-TY status" conferred on them because of their husbands' deaths. She did NOT say they were enjoying their husband's deaths. To misrepresent that comment the way he did is worthy of a Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy.
-- Al Markel
San Francisco, California
Although on Hannity & Colmes Ann Coulter did say, apropos the 9/11 widows, "They're clearly enjoying their celebrity status," in her new book Godless she makes this observation: "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."
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