Ann Coulter is like Big Bird from Sesame Street, only way, way scarier.
She’s an ultra-right-wing political commentator who has made a name for herself—well, a name and also a lot of money—by pushing liberals’ buttons. Coulter, a six-foot blonde with a voice like the cross between a yo-yo and a gutter (so that “Muslim” becomes “moose-lim”) and an Adam’s apple the size of a small boulder, is nothing short of terrifying.
Coulter’s opinions range from laughably offensive (she argues in “Godless: The Church of Liberalism” that liberals are going to hell) to troublingly offensive (she tells television audiences that she is against gay marriage because gays can already get married—to a member of the opposite sex).
She then goes one step further, writing in “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America” that the Ku Klux Klan was originally founded by Democrats to terrorize Republicans.
And then she takes another step over the line, defending violent attacks on abortion clinics. She goes so far as to write, “Most of the abortionists were shot or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure performed on them with a rifle.” By the time the line of political correctness is so far behind her she can no longer see it, she has dated the virulent filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza (producer of “2016: Obama’s America,” a 2012 right-wing propaganda film designed to turn the world against Obama).
Ann Coulter is odious, to be sure. But I cannot hate her. She may deserve nothing but my scorn, but she receives only my curious fondness.
I first stumbled upon Ann Coulter on my friend’s parents’ bookshelf. My friend’s parents are Republicans. They belong to a country club and embrace free-market capitalism (though I’m assured that they’re socially liberal, whatever that means). Anyway, I was 12 years old, at my friend’s house, and there on the bookshelf (which, notably, was located just a few paces from a signed picture of Rudolph Giuliani, the then-mayor of New York City) was Ann Coulter’s huge blonde head plastered on the cover of a book titled, “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).”
It was at this point that I began to panic, if only slightly. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that my parents, with their easygoing ways, loafer-less closet, pinot-less refrigerator, and untamed peals of laughter, were liberals. I pictured my friend’s parents thumbing through Coulter’s book before going to retrieve her from our house, just in case any chitchat was to be had with the liberals, and shuddered.
I reached for the book inconspicuously—my friend was busy reading a book about breeding and grooming Welsh Terriers, her family’s bearded dog of choice (oh my god, what if SHE had to read the book before talking to me?!)—and quickly flipped through. I don’t remember exactly what I read, but I’m sure it was to the tune of “don’t be defensive, always outrage the enemy, and never apologize to, compliment, or show graciousness to a Democrat,” which is how Amazon.com summarizes Coulter’s message.
I put the book back in its place next to “Atlas Shrugged” (if memory serves) with a heavy heart. I was naïve, so I thought Ann Coulter would mark the end of our friendship.
But then I started to read Ann Coulter’s columns, which she writes every week on her website. I didn’t tell my parents about this, because I knew my mother would do her signature hand-to-chest gasp and my father would launch into a lecture about not believing everything you read. So I read Ann Coulter in private, through the 2008 and 2012 elections, through the Trayvon Martin case and the 2013 holiday season (in which Coulter began a war on Kwanzaa).
She writes about why liberal women are ugly (“I can tell you that based on experience—and my bodyguard will back me up on this—all pretty girls are right-wingers”), why she’s not a feminist (“I’ll take 69 cents on the dollar, or whatever current feminist myth is about how much we make just to have to never have to pay for dinner”), and how civil rights are only for blacks, not immigrants (“what have we done to immigrants?”).
Yet as much I hate what she espouses, I cannot hate Ann Coulter.
I enjoy Ann Coulter. I do not agree with her. There is a difference.
Maybe I like her because of her frankness. She’s not running for anything, so she can say whatever she wants, free of consequence.
Maybe I like her because she doesn’t care if I hate her.
Maybe I like her because of her unbelievability. It’s almost as though not even she totally buys everything that comes out of her mouth. Listening to her is mentally stimulating, because you first need to understand what she’s saying, sorting through the garbage and hyperbole, in order to hate what she’s saying in full detail.
Maybe I like her—and this is probably it—because she’s the perfect enemy. I recently watched a video of her addressing a roomful of young libertarians. The moment she accuses them of sucking up to liberals by promising to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage, the young libertarians burst into angered shouts and “boos.” Yet throughout, Coulter is well behaved, grinning and taking their scorn lightly, never becoming flustered or defensive.
She offers herself up as a sacrificial lamb, a concentrate of all the hateful ideology of the right wing, and lets herself be slaughtered. That’s why I’m fond of Ann Coulter. She’s doing us a huge favor by letting those who oppose her take out their anger; she facilitates our catharsis. And in doing so, she forces us to crystallize our arguments against her, to focus our beef with her into a cohesive manifesto.
Davis is a member of the class of 2017.