Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ann Coulter's Hooters

Ann Coulter was hooted down on a college camus. Again.

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Conservative columnist Ann Coulter cut short a speech at the University of Connecticut amid boos and jeers, and decided to hold a question-and-answer session instead.

... Before cutting off her speech after about 15 minutes, Coulter called Bill Clinton an "executive buffoon" who won the presidency only because Ross Perot took 19% of the vote.

Shocking! How dare she? Hate speech! Hate speech! Burn her, she's a wiiiiitch!

Don't weep for Ann. She's acerbic and bombastic. This is her schtick, and she was right in her element -- provoking the worst behavior of those who pride themselves on open minds and liberal attitudes. The mere sight of her striding onto a campus in her stylish black boots and leather miniskirt can turn intelligent minds to mush.

Just look at what she brings to the surface of the stagnant ponds of academe. One of the groups that played into her hands at UConn was called "Students Against Hate." The AP quoted its leader -- "Eric Knudsen, a 19-year-old sophomore journalism and social welfare major" (!!! look for that byline in the New York Times in a few years) as saying, "We encourage diverse opinion at UConn, but this is blatant hate speech."

Meanwhile a campus newspaper article about the speech before it happened quoted Ali Langston, a "member of the Muslim Student Association," as saying "ignorance is something that divides us as a people," and then in the next paragraph inadvertently gives an example of ignorance.

"Islam is a word that means peace," Langston said.

BUZZZZZ!! It means "submission;" it comes from the Arabic root of aslama "he resigned, he surrendered, he submitted," a causative conjugation of salima "he was safe." It is related to salam "peace," like English history is related to story. But it is not the same word, and Islam decidedly does not mean "peace."

When she spoke at Kansas University, "Some of the protesters, such as Robert Richardson, said they were members of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics."

"We're just not open-minded enough to like Ann Coulter," Richardson, 28, of Lawrence, said.

When she spoke at University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis, the university's president "issued a statement condemning Coulter's speech as 'hateful,' " even though he never said what he found hateful in it, and in fact it turned out he had not even attended the speech.

Daily Kos, meanwhile, takes its usual position on the high ground of the left by speculating Coulter either is just out there looking for a man, or else she really is a man:

Somewhat more trivial or perhaps pruriently motivated critics have suggested that her positions amount to trolling and that because of her pronounced trachea due to her being extremely underweight, appears to have an Adam's apple and therefore might be a transvestite or transgendered person.

Because, you know, real hot blonde chicks just can't be that wicked and focused and sharp and mean to nice noble-souled liberal boys like us.

When a university community does manage to keep its wig on long enough to let her speak and ask her civil, but pointed questions, it learns how easy it is to puncture her polemical balloon:

Coulter was asked why she condemns the terrorists so strongly, but not those who kill abortion doctors. She said that the latter have been extremely frustrated by the fact that they can’t vote on this issue, thanks to Roe vs. Wade, and that they worked within the system for twenty years without success before turning to murder. She said that those individuals believe they had been left with no other routes for dissent in the face of an ongoing atrocity. Coulter further suggested that although she would not take it upon herself to take extreme actions on the abortion issue, she will not condemn those who do.

But that so rarely happens, because her mere presence magically transforms ivy-mantled walls into a Jerry Springer set.

If anyone has an interest in drowning out Coulter, it's conservatives. She's intelligent and articulate, but so driven by the lust for the jugular that she only absorbs enough information about anything to make a weapon, not an argument. She's as bad as the comic who only bothers to memorize the punchlines, not the jokes.

As a result, she inadvertently poisons the waters of perfectly valid positions by wielding them too crudely. The McCarthy book, for instance, which took acclaimed new looks at the post-war struggle against communism by historians such as Arthur Herman and Ron Radosh and ran with them to places that made the historians cringe. If you want to use that argument now, you have to make an elaborate detour to explain why you're not actually saying the same thing Ann Coulter said, even though it looks like it on the surface. Complexities of issues, and occasionally even the facts of them, are lost on her, in her eternal search for the zinger. It's as though she took a delicate but deadly ray-gun weapon and used it to pistol-whip her opponents, so when she hands it back to you it's bent and useless.

Right-wingers seem to have an intuitive knack for recognizing this type, at least when it appears on the other side of the debate. The opposition teammate who is most likely to throw an interception or miss a free throw is someone to be cherished, nurtured. It's why some conservative bloggers I know dutifully contribute to Air America fund drives. But they tolerate Ann Coulter.

On the other hand, she's useful for just such moments as this.

Ann Coulter comes onto a campus one night, gives a lecture students are free to attend, or not, as they see fit, and is gone the next day. The left's equivalent of Ann Coulter tend to be ensconced in tenured teaching positions. Students have to endure them day after day, and craft essays and reports that suit their ideologies. Yet these obstacles to a bachelor's degree can be every bit as mean and partisan as Coulter, a newspaper columnist. Consider Columbia University's Joseph Mossad's infamous retort to a student, "If you're going to deny the atrocities being committed against Palestinians, then you can get out of my classroom."

UCLA professor John McCumber informed The New York Times that “a successful career in academia, after all, requires willingness to be critical of yourself and to learn from experience,” qualities “antithetical to Republicanism as it has recently come to be.” In another Times article, Berkeley professor George Lakoff asserted that Leftists predominate in the academy because, “unlike conservatives, they believe in working for the public good and social justice, as well as knowledge and art for their own sake.”

As Montclair State professor Grover Furr put it after reading the above article,

“Conservatism” champions racism, exploitation, and imperialist war. It’s the enemy of 90% of the human race. We need LESS of it, not more. Sure, it should be “represented” in classes — but only for the sake of exposure and refutation.

Juan Cole in defending Mossad (and resorting to exactly the tactics he accuses Mossad's accusers of using), proudly proclaims the purity of the academic mission:

University teaching is not about fairness, and there is no body capable of imposing “fair” views on teachers. It is about provoking students to think analytically and synthetically, and to reason on their own.

How, in such an atmosphere, do you justify killing only certain unpopular messages?

Emily Salsibury, executive director of the College Republicans at UConn, wrote a defense of the speech in advance of the event, pleading for dialogue, not denigration.

To define a speech as hateful or racist simply because you do not agree with the point of view is a lowbrow tactic. It is ironic that some preach tolerance and diversity, but cannot practice it well. We must all learn to deal with dissenting voices, and this is just what Coulter is. Disagreement with a voice should never lead to silencing that voice.

Or, as another famous modern American academic figure puts it,

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.