P. Z. Myers says all the right things on the subject of replying to Ann Coulter. She’s loathsome, dishonest and ignorant. But we can’t simply pretend she doesn’t exist. I haven’t managed to get a copy of her book yet, but when I do I expect to have some things to say about her evolution chapter.
Andrew Sullivan offers this interesting post about Coulter. He reproduces the following e-mail from a reader:
Just wanted to add my little bit of insight to the Ann Coulter discussion. While interning at a cable news show a year ago, I was responsible for guest relations on a day when Ann Coulter was being interviewed in the studio. I had to meet Ann Coulter in the lobby, take her to the green room, prep her and bring her to the set. We chatted for a bit during that time, despite my intense dislike of her crude politics and television personality. I was shocked by how pleasant she was, even when I told her where I go to school (a favorite target of Fox News, one of the maligned Northeastern “bastions of the liberal elite”). She had spoken there recently and received the typical poor reception that she thrives on, but despite that she had nothing but great things to say about my college and all the “bright students” and their “brilliant questions.” If she had been talking about my school in the media, however, there is no question that the only words out of Ann Coulter’s mouth would have been “liberal elite”, “New England”, “brainwashing professors”, “traitors”, etc.
I came away from our conversation with the distinct impression that her television personality is exaggerated and largely manufactured, and that she doesn’t believe many of the ludicrous things she says. She’s not a radical of any sort, she’s just a coniving businesswoman. The woman has simply figured out how to market herself and make cold, hard cash, and will say any controversial thing she deems necessary to do so. That has become obvious after her outrageous attacks on the 9/11 widows, which have caused her book to shoot to the top of the Amazon charts.
What Ann Coulter does is worse than other media personalities who actually believe the vileness that they spew, because she does it solely for the money and notoriety, despite her hypocritical claims to the mantles of Christianity and patriotism. Her actions show that she is devoted to just one thing: the church of the American dollar. To borrow a line from Jon Stewart, cheap hacks like her are hurting America.
Well said. People often say the same thing about Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. They’re just entertainers! Don’t get so worked up over them! Alas, there are many people in this country who don’t see them that way. The Coulter’s, Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s of this world speak for an awful lot of people; people who take them very seriously indeed. And the only way I know of combatting them is to respond to their arguments and hope that more sensible people prevail. That’s increasingly becoming a dim hope in this country, but the battle is worth joining nonetheless.