BY THE SWORD
post-9/11 column, "This
Is War," offered this charming prescription for prosecuting
the war on terrorism:
should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert
them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating
and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed
German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is
established that Coulter's regard for human life is on a par
with Osama bin Laden's, we note that this jeremiad advocating
mass murder appeared in National Review – which regularly
carried her column – without any apparent trouble. Although
a Republican President has gone out of his way to make the
point that Islam is not the enemy, perhaps NR's editors
rather liked the ironic implication that Muslims would be
forcibly converted to the One True Faith. (That, after all,
was one of the main methods of "proselytizing" for
Islam in an earlier time, especially in the Balkans.) They
also weren't too perturbed at her effort to portray Arab-Americans
as fifth columnists:
who want our country destroyed live here, work for our airlines,
and are submitted to the exact same airport shakedown as a
lumberman from Idaho. This would be like having the Wehrmacht
immigrate to America and work for our airlines during World
War II. Except the Wehrmacht was not so bloodthirsty."
policy implications of such a statement ought to be clear
enough, and Coulter spelled out just what she thought ought
to be done about it in
her next column: we not only need to carpet-bomb every
Arab country on the map, we also need to conduct a war at
home, especially on "swarthy males," who need to
be singled out at airports and elsewhere. Ah yes, we always
knew to keep an eye on those Sicilians. While just
as bombastic and off-the-cuff as her last effort, this particular
piece wasn't all that bad: aside from the domestic
passport riff and that remark about "swarthy males,"
the bulk of it was devoted to sneering at the so-called security
measures taken at airports in the wake of 9/11. I particularly
liked the reference to airport workers as "McDonald's
rejects" – and I know for a fact that her description
of the laxity still endemic at airports is all too true. I
flew from New York to San Francisco 2 weeks after 9/11, and
the "security" procedures were perfunctory, at best.
was her relatively moderate second column, however, that got
her the boot from the sacred precincts of National Review,
a ruckus on the Right which is more than just a cat-fight
between two rather self-involved, self-indulgent conservative
"personalities," Coulter and NR Online editor
Jonah Goldberg. The
explanation offered by Goldberg is that NR ran
her first column "by mistake," and then rejected
the second post-9/11 screed, not because they disagreed with
its content, but on purely literary grounds. Goldberg avers
that the first jeremiad slipped through the cracks, somehow,
without really being read – not very believable, is it? –
and then goes on to describe a series of emails between Coulter
and the real editor of National Review, Rich
wrote back an angry response, defending herself from the charge
that she hates Muslims and wants to convert them at gunpoint.
But this was not the point. It was NEVER the point. The problem
with Ann's first column was its sloppiness of expression and
thought. Ann didn't fail as a person – as all her critics
on the Left say – she failed as WRITER, which for us is almost
does Goldberg take issue with what she actually wrote: only
her mode of expression seems to have offended him. "It
was Ann who severed her ties with National Review,
and not vice versa," he tells us, underscoring the non-ideological
nature of the breach. What really seems to have happened is
that NR posted "This is War" with full knowledge,
understanding, and agreement, and only began to back away
when they caught flack for it. NR Online has run plenty
of material that mirrors Coulter's hatred of all things Arab.
Johnson penned a little essay for NR claiming that
Islam is an inherently "imperialistic religion,"
Derbyshire's sneering contempt for the inhabitants of
the Fertile Crescent was succinctly and nastily expressed
in his summation of the Gulf war:
superiority of one culture over another has not been so starkly
demonstrated since a handful of British wooden ships, at the
end of ten-thousand-mile lines of communications, brought
the Celestial Empire to its knees 150 years earlier."
is quite the "in" thing on the neoconservative Right
today. Stephen Schwartz, a former Trotskyite who now writes
for The Weekly Standard, has likened the Wahabi
sect of Islam – whose "quintessence is war on America,"
and is favored by both bin Laden and the Saudi royal family
– as a moral threat on a par with fascism, and a geopolitical
threat equal to that of the old Soviet Union. Norman Podhoretz,
in the Wall Street Journal, avers that "We
have all been repeatedly instructed in the past few days that
suicide bombing, whether in Jerusalem or New York, represents
a perversion of Islam fostered by a tiny minority of fundamentalists"
– and snidely adds, "This may well be so." Yeah,
right, Norman – we all know what you really think.
really ugly – what's really changed, post-9/11 – is that
Podhoretz and the others are barely even trying to hide the
hate. The only difference between this crew and Coulter is
that the blonde bombshell is upfront and in our face about
it, while the Goldbergs, the Buckleys, the Schwartzes, and
the Podhoretzes make at least a feeble attempt to mask it:
they don't hate Muslims, just Wahabi Muslims. They
don't want to invade all Arab lands and kill their leaders
(and a good deal of the population): just those resident in
Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Iran.
suspect that the real reason for the sudden crackdown on Coulter
by National Review Online was due, not to the draconian
measures she proposes, nor to her confrontational literary
style, but to Goldberg's recent marriage: his spouse is chief
speechwriter and senior policy advisor to Attorney General
John Ashcroft. Coulter's column, which ridiculed lax airport
security measures, came just as Ashcroft was assuring the
country that security was being beefed up, while the President
was telling us to go on vacation – and be sure to fly. Never
mind Coulter's declaration of war against Islam – that has
been the neocon line all along – what really got to Goldberg
was a perceived attack on a member of his family. Surely
Ann didn't think that he would permit an open attack on Ashcroft
– his wife's boss – in his webzine. So her column was axed,
and, when Coulter griped about it to the Washington Post,
and on Bill Maher's three-ring circus, she was axed, too.
AGE OF MADNESS
keep hearing about how "everything has changed."
Oh me oh my, we'll never be the same again: the rules have
changed, the game has changed, it's the end of innocence.
Of course, some people would very much like for "everything"
to change: you see, there's a little document called the Constitution
that some folks just have no use for, and they would like
to ditch it – in the name of the post-9/11 national emergency
– because we supposedly can't afford the luxury of civil
liberties right now. The President's spokesman has proclaimed
the necessity for everyone to "watch what they say,"
and anyone who so much as breathes a mention of US foreign
policy while discussing our national tragedy is branded a
latter-day Benedict Arnold. Traitor! Fifth columnist! Defeatist!
The War Party has dispensed with the necessity of even constructing
an argument by unilaterally declaring that there will be no
debate. "Which side are you on?" is their belligerent
riposte to any and all arguments counseling restraint or trying
to give some historical context for the September 11 attack.
We are living in an age of madness, most of it self-induced.
thing that certainly has changed since 9/11 is that
all too many Americans have become unashamed haters. In spite
of the President's admonitions against scapegoating, Arab-Americans
(and those who might be mistaken for them) have been subjected
to literally hundreds of attacks in the aftermath of 9/11.
Several have been shot, others beaten up, many have had their
property damaged: Arab-American children are routinely threatened
and attacked at school. I have read about at least one attack
every single day since the 9/11 attack, and one can
only wonder how many go unreported. The latest is the
case of Abdo Ali Ahmed, who stumbled out of his San Joaquin
(California) convenience store at around 4 p.m. the other
day, and into a next door tavern, where he died from a gunshot
wound to his midsection. A carload of teenagers was seen speeding
away. Ahmed had received threats the previous evening, making
it clear that he was targeted on account of his heritage (Yemeni).
the death of Mr. Ahmed is just collateral damage as far as
Ann Coulter is concerned. In her latest tirade. "Detainment
Isn't Enough," she screeches that we must "deport
all immigrants" from "terrorist-producing countries."
No word yet as to whether she means to include the Irish,
but I suspect not. Coulter rants:
unfair as it sounds, deporting immigrants from suspect countries
will actually minimize cruelties toward vast numbers of vaguely
Arabic-looking people. Although many immigrants will be swept
up unfairly, all the Sikhs, Hindus and Arab Christians will
be relieved to discover they don't scare people anymore."
AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN'
read this poisonous claptrap, my heart wrenched as I recalled
this part of the Abdo Ahmed story
in the San Jose Mercury News:
am an American citizen,' Ahmed would say, according to family
members, when someone taunted him or asked if he were related
to Osama bin Laden."
doubt whether Coulter cares if Ahmed was an American citizen
or not, for this hair-tossing Harpie wears her hate on her
sleeve, to wit:
thousands of immigrants could be waived in instantly on the
basis of reliable evidence either that they are not Muslims,
or that they are the peaceful, law-abiding variety not planning
mass murder – as opposed to the peaceful, law-abiding Muslims
who recently slaughtered thousands of our fellow countrymen."
I guess that means Mr. Ahmed might have been allowed to stay
– for all the good it would have done him.
SNAPS HER UP
was only natural for David Horowitz to snap up Coulter just
as fast as NR Online dropped her. After all, if you're
a professional hater, then you go where the hate is, and certainly
these two self-promoting careerists of the Right have a lot
more in common than a shared distaste for "swarthy males."
announcing his newest acquisition, Horowitz attributed
Coulter's contretemps with NR to "PC McCarthyism,"
and downplayed the rest of her comments as not to be taken
a Jew, I could be uneasy at Ann's suggestion that mass conversion
to Christianity should be wielded as a tool of foreign policy
were it not so obvious that her comment was hyperbolic, tongue
firmly in cheek. … In the final analysis, nothing Ann said
should have caused a scandal. Not in a reasonable and open
we could tell when Coulter is being hyperbolic, as opposed
to serious, is beyond me. At any rate, Horowitz has a distinctly
odd conception of what "a reasonable and open society"
would look like. In a
pro-war ad published in college newspapers, he admonishes
antiwar protesters with his belief that their activities cross
the line between dissent and outright treason. After railing
on for paragraphs about what a noble cause the Vietnam war
was, and how wrong he was to oppose it, this ex-Stalinist
no doubt gets a steely glint in his eye as he writes:
I have one regret from my radical years, it is that this country
was too tolerant towards the treason of its enemies within.
If patriotic Americans had been more vigilant in the defense
of their country, if they had called things by their right
names, if they had confronted us with the seriousness of our
attacks, they might have caught the attention of those of
us who were well-meaning but utterly misguided. And they might
have stopped us in our tracks."
how, one wonders, could they have stopped the antiwar movement
in its tracks – except by illegalizing it? His word for what
the antiwar movement was doing is treason, and quite
clearly he believes that today's protesters are guilty of
the same transgression. Treason is not a political stance,
it is a crime for which there is a penalty. Traitors are jailed,
and sometimes they are executed: is this what Horowitz envisions?
Or is his tongue, like Coulter's, planted firmly in his cheek?
tongue is planted somewhere, alright, but it isn't in his
cheek. There isn't a retrograde trend on the Right that this
Commie-turn-conservative hasn't tried to suck up to. For a
while there, hardly a day went by when visitors to his website
weren't reminded that blacks commit crimes way out of proportion
to their numbers in the general population: he
teamed up with James Lubsinkas, an editor of the white
supremacist organ, American Renaissance, to denounce
the "racism" of many blacks. Back when Chinese-Americans
were the "fifth column" of the moment (oh, how
long ago all that seems!), Horowitz was busy whipping
up Sinophobia amongst his knuckle-dragging followers. Now
that Arab-Americans are the pariahs of the moment, Horowitz's
opportunistic impulses immediately told him what to do: as
always, pile on the "enemy" of the moment, and exploit
it for all it's worth.
is always "the
enemy within" that Horowitz emphasizes in his wartime
commentary: we hear hardly anything from him about how to
get to the source of the terrorist threat, which is overseas.
Horowitz is fighting this war, as he fought all the others,
the home front – and, like any bully, he goes after the
weakest, most defenseless members of our community. This is
what Horowitz and Coulter have in common aside from their
knee-jerk politics and calculated incivility: they are both
of them bullies looking for an easy victim and some cheap
ARE DIFFERENT, NOW
is sickening, really, to contemplate that these people have
any influence, or are worthy of note: but that is what
is so different about the post-9/11 era. Normally, such losers
would be consigned to the margins, howling their hate in the
wilderness. But these people are emboldened by war, they come
to the fore in bad times, when they are positively brazen.
So brace yourselves, my friends, and hold your nose for the
duration: from now on, life – or, at least, public life –
just isn't going to be very pretty.
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