If Obama is a “retard,” then what is Ann Coulter? Conservative author, lawyer and political commentator Ann Coulter stirred up quite a controversy with her tweet after last Monday night’s debate, commending Mitt Romney for being “kind and gentle to the retard,” referring to President Barack Obama. Friday night, she appeared on Piers Morgan, defending her claim by stating that “retard is a synonym for loser,” in addition to an assortment of other more-than-borderline-offensive statements. Coulter is no stranger to backlash similar to what she experienced after Monday night’s remark. She has risen to prominence in conservative politics by virtue of her controversial statements and blunt commentary. Coulter feels no need to censor herself and no need to apologize — two factors that probably contribute to the success of her novels, which have repeatedly made The New York Times Best Seller list. Like a female Rush Limbaugh, Coulter’s extremist views have earned her a large audience amongst right-wingers. With the election coming up in only a few days, the political atmosphere seems more hateful and polarized than ever. Name-calling and negative campaign ads, offensive commentary and back-and-forth “fact-checking” seem to pervade the media everywhere we go. And it is the perfect time for people like Coulter to come out and stir up the pot: to reinforce the opinions of their supporters, and to aggravate their opponents. But Coulter has more than crossed the line — a fact that she seems well aware of and doesn’t seem to be perturbed by. Her interview with Piers Morgan on Friday night, much like all her other interviews, was painful to watch. Things started getting heated once Coulter claimed she was sick of the “word police” going after her for her “retard” comment. Morgan likened her situation to that of former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, who has been under fire after his Thursday remark that Republican Colin Powell might have a “slightly different reason” than issues for supporting Barack Obama. Coulter claimed that the liberal word police get excessively defensive when it comes to white conservatives’ rhetoric concerning race, sexuality and, apparently, disabilities. In a similarly agonizing interview last month, Whoopi Goldberg criticized Coulter for being out of touch when it comes to issues concerning race during her appearance on “The View.” As Coulter discussed topics in her most recent book, Mugged, such as her opinion that “race mongering has been very bad for America,” and that the white response after the OJ Simpson verdict was “the best thing that even happened to black Americans,” she was interrupted by Barbara Walters and then by Goldberg, who received applause after saying, “Tell me what you know about being black.” We have reached a scary point in politics when someone who claims “there are more child molesters in this country than true racists” makes the Bestseller’s List.
Regardless of their political affiliation, it is sickening when authors, commentators and talk show hosts build their fan base by being nothing short of a bully. Referring to the President of the United States as a “retard” is wrong, no matter how you interpret the connotation of the word. People fueled by so much ignorance and hatred should not be granted so much power, and it is time for conservatives and liberals alike to learn to share their opinions without such blatant disrespect toward people who are different than they are.
Hannah Franz firstname.lastname@example.org