March 5, 2007

CPAC Bloggers on Coulter

"Not in our name" is the message from a the center-right blogosphere regarding Ann Coulter's bigoted publicity stunt the other day at the CPAC meetings. An open letter to CPAC sponsors and organizers is up at Sean Hackbarth's blog, and I'm happy to add my name to the list of bloggers supporting this letter.

I'm heartened that the response to Coulter by conservatives has been so strong and so broad. She is not representative of the conservative movement, though she has done it incalculable harm by giving our opponents a telegenic, loudmouthed example of bigotry to hang around our collective neck. Read the whole letter, but here are a couple of excerpts:

Coulter’s vicious word choice tells the world she care little about the feelings of a large group that often feels marginalized and despised. Her word choice forces conservatives to waste time defending themselves against charges of homophobia rather than advancing conservative ideas...

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...Denouncing Coulter is not enough. After her “raghead” remark in 2006 she took some heat. Yet she did not grow and learn. We should have been more forceful. This year she used a gay slur. What is next? If Senator Barack Obama is the de facto Democratic Presidential nominee next year will Coulter feel free to use a racial slur? How does that help conservatism?

One of the points of CPAC is the opportunity it gives college students to meet other young conservatives and learn from our leaders. Unlike on their campuses—where they often feel alone—at CPAC they know they are part of a vibrant political movement. What example is set when one highlight of the conference is finding out what shocking phrase will emerge from Ann Coulter’s mouth? How can we teach young conservatives to fight for their principles with civility and respect when Ann Coulter is allowed to address the conference? Coulter’s invective is a sign of weak thinking and unprincipled politicking.

Michelle Malkin speaks for me on this issue too:

Her "faggot" joke was not just a distraction from all the good that was highlighted and represented at the conference. It was the equivalent of a rhetorical fragging--an intentionally-tossed verbal grenade that exploded in her own fellow ideological soldiers' tent...

...With a single word, Coulter sullied the hard work of hundreds of CPAC participants and exhibitors and tarred the collective reputation of thousands of CPAC attendees. At a reception for college students held by the Young America's Foundation, I lambasted the substitution of stupid slurs for persuasion-- be it "faggot" from a conservative or "gook" from a liberal--and urged the young people there to conduct themselves at all times with dignity in their ideological battles on and off campus.

I made something else explicitly clear: Not all of us treat the communication of conservative ideals and ideas as 24/7 performance art. You can and should use humor to convey your message. You can enlighten and entertain--without becoming a tired old schtick. You can joke without becoming the joke.

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On Saturday, Sean Hannity spoke at CPAC. He told the massive crowd that "We have a very pivotal role to play in driving the direction of this country" and urged the attendees to remind the nation "what conservative principles are about." I wholeheartedly agree. We should remind them that we are not on the same side as Bill Maher, the Huffington Post, and John Edwards' ex-bloggers who pollute public discourse with shallow, sensational attacks and hide behind the "satire" card when called to account.

I don't think it is an overreaction to suggest that Ann Coulter deserves to be shunned by the conservative movement in much the same way that the John Birchers were read out of the party by William F. Buckley among others. She is forever tainted as any kind of effective spokesperson for the conservative cause. A little media-enabled apology like the one Isaiah Washington was permitted will not make everything right for Coulter, given the media's propensity to apply a different standard to conservative "hate speech" than they do to that of the left, (see Malkin's recent examples above.)

My dismay at the whole incident is compounded by the fact that I consider the word itself to be perhaps the most vile and dehumanizing of slurs that exist in our language. "Faggot", derives from the word "fagot"...defined as "a bundle of sticks"...in other words, something suitable for tossing onto the fire, as fuel... to be burned. Didn't we fight a war over the idea that certain human beings should be incinerated?

How ignorant and unthinking it is for any freedom-lover to evoke such an image, especially at a time when we are engaged in a long-term struggle against radical Islamism, an ideology and a political movement that deals with its homosexuals by stoning them to death? How is the one image distinguishable from the other?

You may think the comparison overwrought, and it may be, since the Islamists are actually stoning homosexuals and Coulter's offense was merely rhetorical. But I think of it as "aid and comfort..."

Posted by dan at March 5, 2007 10:36 PM