Ann Coulter, the clown princess of right-wing chatter, has always been a reassuring figure to liberals. The rubbish she spews forth — 9/11 widows “enjoy their husbands’ deaths,” liberals are “traitors,” John Edwards is a “faggot” — seems like a comforting reminder of America’s native tolerance and good sense. Like Archie Bunker, she airs our worst prejudices and turns them into a joke. American democracy comes out stronger as a result, or so we assume. After all, Americans don’t really believe that anyone who disagrees with them is a traitor. Besides, she couldn’t really mean what she says.
All the more shocking, then, was her statement last week on CNBC television that her vision of an ideal America is a nation that is entirely Christian. Her words left her host, Donny Deutsch, genuinely insulted. Coulter was flustered; this was a rare appearance in a venue that was neither sympathetically right-wing nor comedic. Having to confront a victim of her venom face to face, Coulter was visibly distressed. She couldn’t sneer her way out of it. And so she pleaded for understanding, insisting that she meant every word, but that it should not be taken as offensive. It’s merely the faith of Christians: that Jews should be “perfected” by embracing Jesus.
She’s right of course. Christians have believed for two millennia that Jews need to be “perfected” through Jesus. For most of that time, that’s been taken as a mandate to torture, burn and dismember Jews, all in the pursuit of “perfecting” them. America was meant to be different — a country where no religion could claim the exclusive right to define society and press itself on others. Coulter seemed blissfully unaware of all that.
More alarming, though, was her obvious distress at her host’s pain. Coulter, it appears, is not a jokester. She thinks of herself as a serious thinker. In effect, we learned, all her vile statements over the years about blacks, Muslims, gays and women were equally sincere. She is, in other words, a purveyor of rank indecency. Television stations should not be begged to keep her off the air. If the decency laws have any meaning, broadcasters should be fined for hosting her.