10/14/07

Star Tribune: Ann Coulter v. Desmond Tutu

Quite an interesting contrast by Nick Coleman in Minnesota: "The archbishop and Ann Coulter: Blame it on a computer glitch"
It's easy to tell if Ann Coulter is defaming someone: Her lips are moving.
By Nick Coleman, Star Tribune

It's easy to tell if Ann Coulter is defaming someone: Her lips are moving.

Coulter was on a cable TV show Thursday, saying that Christians (apparently, she includes herself among their number) are "perfected" Jews, and that America would be better if we were all Christians.

I suggest that the public affairs office at the University of St. Thomas immediately issue a new press release: "St. Thomas Bans Ann Coulter; Unexplained Computer Glitch Led to Mistaken Banning of Most Reverend Desmond Tutu."

Here's what a St. Thomas flak could say: "Ann Coulter is a foul-mouthed font of hate speech and bigotry. We have no idea how on Earth we accidentally confused her with a Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Man of God who presided over the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa. But there will be a thorough check of our hardware and software systems before we ban anyone else."

Computer error is the only possible explanation for the decision to ban Tutu from St. Thomas after having permitted the Coultergeist to speak on campus just two years ago.

I was present for Coulter's mud-slinging, during which she called Democrats traitors, suggested they should be executed, mocked Muslims, praised right-wing demagogue Sen. Joseph McCarthy (oblivious to the fact she was speaking on a campus that launched the career of liberal antiwar Sen. Eugene McCarthy) and threatened dissenting students with ejection, sending a bouncer into the balcony to shut up the few who dared to jeer.

Coulter's performance led the president of St. Thomas, the Rev. Dennis Dease, to condemn "hateful speech" that "goes against" college principles and "contributes to the growing dark side of our culture -- a disrespect for persons and their sincerely held beliefs."

Yes. The same Dennis Dease who uninvited Tutu, then reversed himself. The invitation has been re-extended now, but the damage has been done.

To be fair to Dease and his university, we should remember that St. Thomas has a long and proud history of openness. When Jews were not welcome at many private schools and anti-Semitism was openly preached in Minnesota, St. Thomas supported Jewish educators. In those days, Catholics and Jews both were discriminated against, and it is natural and good that St. Thomas is still on guard.

St. Thomas, like most other colleges, is a center of debate in many struggles, and it is no surprise that it might be stampeded into banning Tutu. No surprise. Just disappointment.

Tutu's criticisms of Israel seem no different than criticisms from former President Jimmy Carter and many Jews, both in Israel and in the United States. But Tutu can speak for himself, and if he has said things that appear to be anti-Semitic, he can be asked to explain himself, or to apologize. At least with Tutu, the Anglican cleric who has praised the contributions Jews made to the fight against apartheid that helped free his country from racial government, you can expect to hear thoughtful answers.

With Ann Coulter, you can expect only head slaps.

She was paid $50,000 by a right-wing foundation to spew hatred on Minnesota campuses in 2005, including at St. Thomas, and she took the money and ran. No apologies offered. Now, with her latest foul remarks on CNBC, she at least has provided St. Thomas with a little bit of help.

By making it clear what real anti-Semitism looks like.

Criticizing Israel does not make you anti-Semitic. And supporting Israel doesn't mean you are not anti-Semitic.

Maybe you only want to "perfect" Jews by converting all of them to Christianity.

I still like what the head of St. Olaf College said after Coulter dumped her garbage here.

What a college wants, said St. Olaf's president, Christopher Thomforde, is "an intersection between faithfulness and respect, along with intelligent critique and analysis. The issues are highly complicated, and to just sort of incite people is not helpful."

By that Lutheran standard, there is no comparison between Desmond Tutu and Ann Coulter. Knowing which to invite, and which to shun, should be easy:

One is a philosopher. The other is a fool.

3 comments:

Bryce said...

"She was paid $50,000 by a right-wing foundation to spew hatred on Minnesota campuses in 2005, including at St. Thomas, and she took the money and ran. "

Yes, I saw the original invitation by this right-wing foundation. It read, "Dear Coulter, you are cordially invited to spew hatred at several Minnesota campuses. We'll pay you $50,000."

Bryce said...

"By making it clear what real anti-Semitism looks like."


But didn't she say during the interview with Deutsch that in her dreams, the Democratic party would be led by Joe Lieberman? An antisemite would not have said such a thing.

Bryce said...

Just noticed something:
"She was paid $50,000 by a right-wing foundation to spew hatred on Minnesota campuses in 2005, including at St. Thomas, and she took the money and ran. "

Does that mean she DID speak on these campuses, or that she absconded with the money and did NOT speak? I can't tell if she is being accused of hatred or dishonesty!