Saturday, March 3, 2007

The "F" Word

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 688

“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — [applause and cheering] so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.” ~ Ann Coulter, speaking to the American Conservative Union, March 3, 2007.

Read it again. Then once more. Read it as many times as it takes to bring your jaw up from the floor. These are words spoken today at a Republican presidential forum in Washington by the well-known conservative commentator and author, Ann Coulter. The statement was broadcast live on C-Span, and Coulter has made no attempt to deny the accuracy of the quote; the best she could do was attempt to flippantly pass off her remarks as a joke.

I don’t know which is worse: that anyone speaking before a crowd of Republican elected officials and their politically-connected friends – a crowd which included the Vice President of the United States – would make such remarks, or that any of those in attendance would respond with cheers and applause, or that Coulter would later go on to say that she thought she was being funny.

To their credit, three Republican presidential candidates who spoke at the gathering – John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney – have issued statements disavowing Coulter’s remarks. But the question that must be asked is, why isn’t every Republican candidate – heck, every Republican, period – denouncing Coulter’s hateful words?

I am sad to say that the Edwards campaign’s response has been weak, and to a shocking degree, cynical: it has sent out an email titled “Shame on You, Ann Coulter,” that urged supporters to show their outrage by…donating $100,000 in “Coulter Cash” in the coming week. “Shame on you”? Give us money? This is the best they can come up with in response to what is, in many ways, an unprecedented injection of hate-speak into American politics?

On many occasions in the past, my friends have asked me why I’m so interested in politics, why I am involved in the Democratic party, why I don’t just recognize that politics is all just a lousy, worthless game and come up with some other hobby. My answer is simple, and this incident illustrates it perfectly: that while I breathe, I will not acquiesce in the surrender of American life to this outrageous level of hatred, bigotry, and disregard of common decency. I will not just watch this happen – I will fight against it, and I will do everything in my power to prevent its acceptance as normal conduct in American politics, or American life. Not in my country. Not without a fight. Not while I draw breath.

Ann Coulter isn’t the disease. She is merely a symptom of what happens when too many of us leave the field of political discourse to those who would abuse it. It is time to act. It is time to reclaim the country that belongs to all of us. The next election is still many months away, but the battle is already joined, and the worse place to be is on the sidelines. It’s time to go to work.

PS/ I didn’t make it to Bill Richardson’s breakfast event this morning, sad to say. My car was sunk in about an inch of ice after this weekend’s blizzard, and by the time I dug my way clear, the event was over. Sorry Bill – but I will catch you next time.


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