Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hierarchy of hatreds: Gibson vs. Coulter

Let me first of all join the anvil chorus: Mel Gibson is an anti-Semitic moron with a drinking problem. No excuses, no equivocations: in vino veritas. You read it here, in Dawg's Blawg.

But you also read it in a Globe & Mail editorial, and in a lot of other places. Columnists have weighed in, and too many correspondents (now called "letter-writers") to reference. TV, radio and the blogosphere have fallen on the story like famished wolves. Indeed, at last count "Mel Gibson" resulted in 7,440 hits on Google News, and people aren't talking about The Road Warrior. Was his apology sincere, runs one current discussion, or is his soul so stained and stamped with the black dye of anti-Semitism that he is beyond redemption? A perhaps inevitable (but unfortunate) link is also made to the current Middle East crisis and the critics of Israel, sometimes in commentary that is unmistakeably anti-Semitic as well.

Let us leave this über-Catholic (shoot, I hate that prefix, but if you can't beat 'em, join 'em) in the quicksand--someone may or may not pull him to safety, and frankly I don't give a damn either way--and turn to someone else: the redoubtable Ann Coulter. On national US television every week, author of a number of best-selling tirades, a regular on the far-right speech circuit, the febrile Coulter is a woman who has made a career out of just about every form of racist bigotry except anti-Semitism. A selection of public quotes follows:

Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas* to sit within yards of the president.

The little Injun that could. [writing of Ward Churchill]

If you don't want to get shot by the police, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then don't point a toy gun at them. Or, as I believe our motto should be after 9/11: Jihad monkey talks tough; jihad monkey takes the consequences. Sorry, I realize that's offensive. How about "camel jockey"? What? Now what'd I say? Boy, you tent merchants sure are touchy. Grow up, would you? [The word used in her actual speech was not "jihad monkey" but "raghead."]

They could use flying carpets! [asked how Muslims would travel if they were banned from flying, a ban that Coulter supports.]

Thank God the white man did win or we would not have the sort of equality and freedom, or life, that we have now.

It’s extremely difficult to come in if you’re coming from a Western European country. However, if you are from a Third World country, ‘Welcome.’ If your genetic ancestors did not invent the wheel, ‘Oh, well, let them come in.’ But they’re the natural Democratic voters.

The Indians were savages…they were nomads, scalping people…We don’t eat people…we don’t engage in human sacrifice.

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

This wasn't one drunken incident on a highway. Coulter's been carrying on this way for years.But it seems that, far from being a social pariah (although, in fairness, there are a number of conservatives principled enough or at least strategic enough to distance themselves from her), she even merits the protection of the state when someone is unwise enough to heckle.

Coulter continues to be a kind of warped TV celebrity. Her inflammatory books are always on the best-seller lists. Maybe she'll make a movie someday. But there have been no calls for her head at the Globe & Mail for her vicious, perduring racism. Commentators haven't had to furrow their brows about the sincerity of her apologies, because there haven't been any.
Avoiding the top rank of the hierarchy of hatreds, she escapes being brought to account.

What does it take, media peeps? Does she have to be DUI in California to get your attention?
Or is anti-Semitism the only bigotry that counts?

*Helen Thomas is a senior White House correspondent. Rather than dropping Coulter, her syndicator, uExpress, covered for her, by replacing "Arab" with "dyspeptic" in the print version of her comments.

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