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ISSUE 118 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/22/2005

Coulter ignites discussion: Conservative pundit needs no defending

By Jaruwan Punyoyai
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 22, 2005

I refuse to defend Ann Coulter. She doesn’t need to be defended. If you are one of the few liberals to have read a complete book or article of hers instead of a quote devoid of context, only then may you argue with me. In her writing as well as her speeches, she proves her intellect and wit. Not only that: When members of her audience interrupt, yell obscenities or throw food, she refuses to back down.

Coulter is a strong woman, and this is why liberals have their panties in a wad: She is a conservative. An intelligent, witty and fearless conservative woman. Liberals would love Coulter if she were one of them. They somehow take offense at her straight talk but have no problem with Howard Dean’s unabashed ranting. Coulter isn’t even considered mainstream, as the chair of a political party generally is. And she doesn’t scream, either.

Some attendees of Coulter’s speech Sunday seemed unable to grasp Coulter’s style. It seemed that they truly believed that she was prepared to dial up John Ashcroft that very evening and report an “unpatriotic” student at St. Olaf College. After all, don’t conservatives sick the former Attorney General on dissenters on a regular basis?

Those who have deemed Coulter’s quip a racist comment based on the ethnicity of the questioner would do well to examine their own assumptions; Coulter uses this line routinely when responding to queries from students of all races who refuse to relinquish the microphone.

Others in the audience simply embarrassed me. I did indeed realize beforehand that Coulter is a provocateur and therefore, by definition, would rile the crowd. But I was operating under the illusion that in our community, respect and tolerance would be shown even to a conservative. On the contrary, various derogatory terms resounded through the house of God even before Coulter uttered a word.

I don’t claim to be a feminist, but I could not ignore the fact that the majority of these terms referred to women with poor reputations. Could it be that outspoken women are simply still not accepted in today’s society? That’s impossible – there are those admirable women such as Madeline Albright and Ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun. But according to liberals, conservative women such as Condoleezza Rice, Janice Rogers Brown and Ann Coulter are simply reprehensible.

I had the privilege to talk to Coulter after the event. In an attempt to reassure myself that she had experienced audiences that were more rude, I asked her if the audience in Boe was at least better in relation to most colleges. I could tell that she didn’t want to let me down, but she grudgingly admitted that the crowd at St. Olaf was one of the worst she had ever experienced. They didn’t throw food, but they also couldn’t formulate a respectable question. Instead, they made statements and accusations. No, they didn’t throw food, but they couldn’t formulate a respectable question. Instead, they made statements and accusations, and on the occasions when they did pose a question, they would not allow her to answer it.

I had hoped that Coulter’s incendiary speech would fan the flames of ideological debate on campus. Instead, all I have heard since the speech is labeling and name-calling.

According to several students, (some of whom didn’t even attend the event), Coulter is a racist, a fascist and a Nazi, just to name a few. I suppose this proves her point that liberals are simply incapable of engaging in constructive dialogue, but I would have liked to believe otherwise.

Upon observing the reaction to Coulter’s visit, I began to question the wisdom of encouraging the Political Awarness Committee to bring her to campus. Maybe students on this campus just can’t handle an unapologetic right-winger. Perhaps another motherly Linda Chavez-type would have been less traumatic. As a senior I have spent four years sitting through lectures asserting that the Holocaust never really happened. I have held my tongue when professors cracked wise about our phonetically-challenged president. I have asked myself the tough questions about my most deeply held beliefs.

I have repressed my urge to fight back against graffiti, destruction and pure hatred. Now perhaps the liberals can begin to understand how it feels. In the words of Ralph W. Sockman: “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

Contributing writer Megan Blair is a senior from Omaha, Neb. She majors in psychology and English with a media studies concentration.

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