Within the media frenzy over Ann Coulter’s idiotic statements regarding the so-called “Jersey Girls”, the 9/11 widows who lobbied for the creation of the 9/11 Commission and implementation of its recommendations, lies the essence of the conservative misunderstanding of what it means to be an American.
Although they love to claim dominion over patriotism, apple pie and the American spirit in general, conservatives always seem to embody everything but. To use a common condescension of right wingers toward liberals-conservatives just don’t get it!!
Coulter’s hang-up with these women has to do with her contention that the women “used” their personal loss in order to “inject themselves into a national debate”, and then claimed immunity to criticism based upon their personal loss-what Coulter calls the “left’s doctrine of infallibility”. Now, although she is correct that these folks are somewhat shielded by their circumstances, her argument falls apart when faced down by conservatives number one enemy-the truth.
The truth in this case is that the Jersey Girls, as well as Cindy Sheehan and John Murtha, whom Coulter indirectly refers to in her appearance on Today, were all viciously and unsubstantially, but effectively attacked by the right wing, including Coulter. Furthermore, the controversy was sparked not by any legitimate criticism of the Jersey Girls political endeavors to bring about investigations into 9/11, but rather by Coulter’s ridiculously insensitive and vicious personal attack from her latest book, Godless, which reads, “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”
But the meat of my larger point can be found in another of Coulter’s statements during her June 6th interview with Matt Lauer on Today-“To speak out using the fact that they’re widows. This is the left’s doctrine of infallibility. If they have a point to make about the 9-11 Commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism, how about sending in somebody we’re allowed to respond to? No, no, no. We always have to respond to someone who just had a family member die.”
Coulter’s automatic assumption is that the 9/11 widows and Cindy Sheehan were “sent in” by someone, presumably the Democratic Party or some nefarious left wing group. In her mind it can only be that the Democrats or Moveon, or whoever, had recruited a few opportunistic women to do their bidding. What she doesn’t get is that the Jersey Girls and Cindy Sheehan are part of a proud and important historical strain in America of “ordinary” citizens taking action to rectify some injustice, or to literally change major aspects of American life. In fact, the Jersey Girls were key in bringing about the 9/11 commission investigations, which even with all its faults, may never have existed due to Bush administration opposition. Coulter shows her hand as a strictly political creature-in her case a particularly slimy and pusillanimous one-as she is unable to fathom that the Jersey Girls were genuinely and personally motivated by the lack of any credible investigation into 9/11, and subsequently, the application of the 9/11 commissions recommendations.
It is the author’s opinion that Coulter and her cohorts among the right wing attack media don’t get this because they simply do not understand America’s history of public protest and ground up change. Dare I say that they also have a fundamental lack of understanding of the American manifestations of “freedom and “liberty”, regardless of how many times they throw such words around, which is why they are so quick to launch smear campaigns against heroes like teh Jersey Girls, Cindy sheehan and John Murtha? It could also be-again in spite of their rhetoric-that they do not believe in a government of and by the people? After all, loud mouth conservatives aren’t shy about their belief that even the right to vote shouldn’t be extended to the masses of people (refer to Sean Hannity’s “Man on the Street” segments)-or the “rabble”, to borrow a term from John Adams.
Then, of course, there’s the massive hypocrisy of the right wing media on this issue. Coulter herself was an outspoken advocate for the Swift Boat Liars during the 2004 Presidential campaign. The Swift Boat Liars attempted to hide behind their wall of infallibility as veterans when they came out in opposition to John Kerry’s candidacy. Yet Coulter vociferously defended their right to tell widely refuted lies in pursuit of the purely political goal of undercutting Kerry’s bid for the White House. Many of Coulter’s friends and loudest defenders, namely Sean Hannity and FoxNews in general, frequently pointed to the Swift Boat Liars right to speak their mind because of their military service-in other words-the media shouldn’t ignore blatant liars simply because they are Navy vets. If this isn’t a prime example of Coulter’s “doctrine of infallibility” theory, I don’t know what is.