Omri Ceren, a rhetoric PhD student at USC, sent me an interesting, long, thoughtful blog post on Ann Coulter, Jews and the “manufactured scandal of the week.”
It combines the best elements of liberal sophistication: the banality of multiculturalist tolerance, the humorlessness of scolding identity politics, and the blubbering of righteous indignation. It’s the shallow beginning and the myopic end of the belief gap. Liberals take their own fashionable, spineless disattachment from the world - “believing too much in something is so unsophisticated.” They follow it to its logical conclusion of vapid multiculturalism, where asserting passionate belief is an attack on some incredibly fragile Other - “believing too much in something is intolerant.” And then when they have to deal with a normal, healthy person of faith, their self-righteous myopia triggers everything from shocked offense to a mindboggling inability to even understand what’s at stake.
So to recap: Coulter is stating that part of being a Christian is believing that Christianity is true, which has the fortunate side effect of also implying that Jews are saved for believing that Judaism is true. What a bigot!
We’d be inclined to believe that this is just a way for Democrats to say “see, the right has anti-Semites so it’s OK when our top politicians talk about New York money people and our anti-war base thinks its edgy to carry signs saying Nazi Kikes Out of Lebanon.” Except there’s something a little more deliberate - and shameless - here. Just like with the fake Rush scandal and the fake O’Reilly scandal, the distance between the first eye rolling declaration of moral offense and the distribution of action alerts calling for Ann to be taken off the air was suspiciously small. We question the timing. No, really - we question the timing.
The problem I have with Coulter is not always what she has to say, or even how she says it. It’s just that she’s saying it.
As someone who does not simply practice Christianity as a social definer but believes it’s message is of eternal importance, I agree with Ceren and some of the commentors on the original post that it’s OK to think your religion is the One True Religion. Even when that implies that you’re going to Heaven and everyone else is going to Hell.
The question is when and how do you say that. I don’t think tolerance doesn’t means ambivalent agreement. It’s about sensitivity and understanding, and it’s a value that led me to religion reporting: Not that every religion is a different manifestation of righteousness, but that every person deserves to be treated the same for their beliefs.
Maybe Coulter is capable of such “tolerance.” But I don’t buy it. And, anyway, when offensive rhetoric seems to always be coming out of Ann Coulter’s mouth, can any of it be taken seriously? Especially a week after she’s published a new book.