by: Johnny Gall
Ann Coulter loves attention. It’s obvious at this point. She is the little girl who insults everyone in class so that they’ll look at her. And we’re told, in these situations to ignore these bullies and she’ll stop when she realizes it doesn’t work. That probably doesn’t work on the playground. It definitely doesn’t work with Republican pundits. As long as there are people of privilege out there looking to be affirmed in their bigotry, Ann Coulter will always have a book deal. Our problem is not that we’re paying her too much attention. We’re paying her too little.
Which is why I think we should be paying attention to her statement at CPAC that, “Voters with forty years of politically correct education are ecstatic to have the first black president. They just love the idea of it, even if we did get Flavor Flav instead of Thomas Sowell.”
Oh, what a way we’ve come. Remember four years ago when it was disrespectful to criticize the leader of our country? Or better yet, remember eight years ago when it was a bad idea to “change horses midstream”? And now here we are and the President is Flavor Flav. The hypocrisy is just glaring.
First of all, let me say that we need to remember this. Every time some conservative tells you that Republicans reject Obama purely on policy, and that it has nothing to do with race, mention this. A wealthy white woman compared the black President of the United States to a black reality show star/former rapper known for being ridiculous, and the party laughed and applauded. This is not a party free of racism. Not by a long shot.
Also, I just want to take a moment to tackle this conservative villain of “political correctness” that gets trotted out every so often. Listen, I don’t believe in political correctness either. Because what it basically amounts to is a code of morals. Political correctness is based in the idea that “you can’t say that”, and I will reject moralism in any fashion.
What I do believe in is respect, and this is where you fail, Ann. Notice, I have been writing about you for 350 words, and I haven’t mentioned the word “horse-face.” That’s because I’m trying to have a respectful discourse, which means speaking with you on the basis of your ideas, not targeting petty things.
I will allow you to criticize Obama. I will disagree, but I will allow it. But don’t you dare respect any African-American by comparing them to the worst example you can think of. Believe me, I have been racking my brain for a week, and I can’t come up with a single thing Barack and Flav have in common other than that they’re both black. You are drawing on stereotypes here. That’s not wrong because some liberal commission decided it was; it’s wrong because it disrespects a huge portion of the American people. There’s a difference.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t believe that we’re still dealing with this shit. I wanted to make this another fun political blog where we just mock people who have awful ideas, but I cannot laugh this one off. Ann Coulter is flaunting the fact that black Americans are still a target for white people to use for political gain and to mock for their own edification, and it’s not all right anymore.
There are days when I have one comforting thought to lean on. When I’m facing the fact that I have to fight to have a job in the Church, and I’m having to listen to some guy explain that he loves me as a brother, but still doesn’t think I should be equal as a person, I just wish it were twenty years from now, that was marriage were legalized, he mainstream church had stopped being exclusive, and heterosexists were less like people with valid opinions and more like crazy racist extremists.
It’s nice to think of, and then I remember that racist ideas are not held only by extremists. They’re still said on the floor of huge national conventions. African-Americans still face economic discrimination, racial discrimination and stereotyping. Despite its successes, the Civil Rights movement did not banish racism to the far corners of Appalachia.
I read a historical account of Stonewall recently, and one detail that stuck with me was that of the death of an older black woman, who was sure that she’d see an end to racism. She didn’t. We still haven’t. Somehow people still exist who think that because their ancestors came from Europe and someone else’s came from Africa, it makes them superior.
And I’m having to cope with the fact that I probably won’t see an end to oppression in my lifetime either. It’s comforting to think of the strides we may have made when I’m in my forties, but we won’t be done yet and I hate that.
So, I’m sorry I can’t be witty and political and compare Ann Coulter with cheese tonight, but I’m just too pissed off that people like her still exist. In the end, I still think we’re not paying her enough attention. Somehow her remarks still get passed off as political discourse when they’re very plainly hate speech.
I want to see us make her apologize. I know, forced publicist concocted apologies never fix the problem, but I want to see one anyway because it means we win. It means that respectful, anti-oppression movements have forced bigots to bow down, and by God I need to see that. So, I think that instead of ignoring the political bullies, we need to punish them. Raise a ruckus and cut the switches. I want to see these people embarrassed into keeping their hateful views a secret.
Johnny Gall is so, so very close to completing his B.A. from NYU in English and Creative Writing. He has hopes of moving on to seminary, and then to ordained ministry and works with several groups which advocate queer equality in the Methodist church. He is a feminist, anarchist, person of faith, part-time librarian and an all-around good guy.