What’s a conservative to do with Ann Coulter? She is one of the political right’s most popular, witty and outrageous pundits. She also has a side that is vile and ugly.
If you’ve paid much attention to the blogosphere the last few days, you are probably aware that during her Friday speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), she made the following “joke”: “I think our motto should be post-9-11, ‘rag head talks tough, rag head faces consequences.'”
How stupid are such remarks? Let us count the ways.
First off, they’re racist. There is no difference between using “rag head” and using “nigger,” “spic,” or “honky.” Perhaps it could have been excused had she made it clear she was referring to Islamists and not Muslims in general, but she did not. Indeed, her speech seemed to suggest that she wasn’t making that distinction. It is cliche, but true: the vast majority of Muslims are not Islamists.
Second, she had a responsibility to her hosts, the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, to ensure that CPAC was not barraged with bad press. The folks at the American Conservative Union work like dogs to put on a great event, and they deserved better media coverage. There were many great themes that could have come out of the event, from a visionary speech by Newt Gingrich to the emergence of George Allen as a conservative favorite for president. Unfortunately, it’s Coulter’s idiocy that now dominates the buzz.
She also has a responsibility to the conservative movement, of which she clearly considers herself a part. Specifically, she has a responsibility to not give the political left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) ammunition that they will then use to smear all of us. The media often takes the sensible things we say and distorts them (didn’t Ann write a whole book about that?). Why give them low hanging fruit?
Coulter seems increasingly intent on pushing the envelope as far as she can. This was clear in other areas of the speech, as when she said, “one time I had a shot at Clinton. I thought ‘Ann, that’s not going to help your career.'” After watching the left engage in disgusting assassination fantasies of President Bush, Coulter seems willing to drag conservatives down into the same muck.
While much of the audience laughed at the rag head remark, I got the sense that the laughter was uncomfortable. Fortunately, during the question and answer period, one gutsy young man got up and called her on the remark. He claimed that her remarks would make it difficult for him as a Muslim Republican to recruit other Muslims to the conservative movement. Many people applauded him. Coulter’s response? “Well, I make a couple jokes about Muslims, and they kill 3,000 Americans — fair trade.” Snippy. Immature. Typical.
A number of conservatives I spoke with afterwards claimed they cringed at Coulter’s remark. A gentleman at the Islamic Institute’s booth later told me that a lot of conservatives came by afterwards to apologize. I hope come next year’s CPAC Coulter will have other plans. This year she ruined an otherwise great event.
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