Anna Breslaw’s 600-Word Sprint: The Devil and Ann Coulter
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After being asked by Fordham University’s College Republicans student group to speak on campus at a November 29 event, Ann Coulter was unceremoniously uninvited from appearing on the Bronx Jesuit institution’s grounds by the same College Republicans.
Coulter, of course, is notable mostly for her polemic essays and statements on behalf of the right. Recently she’s veered into touchy territory offensive to either side with her repeated, unapologetic use of the word retard to describe President Obama.
This is hardly the only reason to believe she’s unfit to speak on a college campus, especially if you happen to be among the half of the people in this country who are female.
One factor cited in Obama’s reelection is the increased population of single female voters.
Shortly before the election, Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly released a rage-inducing man-on-the-street segment of his program that featured producer Jesse Watters trolling single women in New York on Halloween night. Watters asked these women—many of them drunk or in “sexy” outfits—who they’d be casting their ballot for on November 6. Watters pulled faces as the women spoke up for President Obama, seeming to intimate: The fate of our country rests with these sluts?
Although O’Reilly’s stunt “journalism” is one of the more fully realized examples of the patronizing nature that conservatives have toward single women, it’s hardly uncommon and it is a particularly rotten plank in Coulter’s public platform.
For as much vitriol as she spews about gay people, disabled people and minorities, Coulter—a single woman herself—seems to have a particular brand of loathing for people of her sex. From a 2007 interview with The New York Observer:
If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.
Within hours after Coulter’s Fordham speaking date was announced, the outcry began, summed up in a letter from Fordham’s president, Father Joseph McShane. McShane expressed disappointment with the College Republicans student group for providing a platform to the polemicist and insisted that Coulter doesn’t represent the Jesuit views of the college.
There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative—more heat than light—and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.
However, Father McShane was not forced to use his veto power to cancel the event. A student-run petition against Coulter’s appearance garnered 2,000 signatures within 24 hours, stating that campus organizations such as College Republicans were partly funded by each individual matriculant’s tuition—and not everyone who paid to go to Fordham necessarily wanted to pay to subsidize Ann Coulter’s bigotry.
Eventually, the CR club released a statement that indicated it had rescinded Coulter’s invitation: “Looking at the concerns raised about Ms. Coulter, many of them reasonable, we have determined that some of her comments do not represent the ideals of the College Republicans and are inconsistent with both our organization’s mission and the University’s. We regret that we failed to thoroughly research [Coulter] before announcing.”
First Amendment absolutists might argue that preventing someone from speaking at a college—even Ann Coulter—violates the basic tenets of anti-censorship and the principles of free speech.
And yet, the impressionable nature of 18-year-olds, never to be underestimated, should not be left out of consideration. They’re at times susceptible to joining crusades led by unrelenting, harsh, anti-humanist rhetoric. Just look at how many of them like Ayn Rand.
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