June 06, 2006

Shooting Messengers

Ann Coulter, she of 9/11/01 "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" fame, has released her new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism and has quickly (and predictably) generated a media firestorm with her rhetoric.

A key graph of her book that has generated a significant amount of heat in the liberal blogosphere after Today Show host Matt Lauer read this portion of her book on the air, regarding a group of 9/11 widows:

"These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was part of the closure process." And this part is the part I really need to talk to you about: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's death so much."

Think Progress has a transcript of the entire exchange, in which Coulter attacks what she calls the "left's doctrine of infallibility."

Lauer was predictably almost speechless, and most of the liberal blog reaction proved that they either didn't understand the meaning of her commentary, or it didn't have an effective rebuttal for this line of attack.

Peter Daou of The Grit and Steve Soto at the Left Coaster were reduced to griping about the fact that Lauer interviewed Coulter, and never sought to engage Coulter's point. The point, of course, was simply this: personal tragedy does not bestow omnipotence upon the bereaved.

The particular group Coulter reviles is a group of just four 9/11 widows sometimes known as "the Jersey girls" that did, in fact use the celebrity afforded by their spouses deaths on 9/11/01 to make plenty of noise in support of John Kerry's Presidential run in 2004. These women do have the right to voice their opinion, and the right to politicize that opinion on stage as loud as the public is willing to bear. But just as certainly, the fact that they were made widows because of a horrific terrorist attack did not grant them unassailable credibility or inherent wisdom.

Excessive hyperbole aside, Coulter was right on this point.

Despite the much-mocked and paraphrased fallacy of Maureen Dowd (before she was walled up Amontillado-like behind the wall of Times Select) that "the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute," the death of a loved one does not automatically grant intelligence or insightfulness or Truth, nor does it grant a Writ of Veracity, where the speaker can no longer be challenged because of the shield of personal loss.

Both sides have been "grief pimps" at times, trotting out survivors of one tragedy or another who conveniently fit their political needs of the day, but is it s a disingenuous person indeed that attacks the messenger for this, instead of an obviously perverse message.

The so-called Jersey Girls have my sympathy for their personal loss, but they are not qualified to preach unopposed about matters of public policy.

No one is.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 6, 2006 03:41 PM | TrackBack

Perhaps you should try to help instruct Ann Coulter on how to be civil. As you just demonstrated, it is possible to make a point without being a complete jerk. Ann, unfortunately, is a shrew and is incapable of doing what you just did.

"Excessive hyperbole aside"? Coulter's whole existence is about excessive hyperbole.

Posted by: Pug at June 6, 2006 04:31 PM

The point, of course, was simply this: personal tragedy does not bestow omnipotence upon the bereaved.

Who said it did?

They have already, same as you or I or Coulter, the right to voice their opinions. Their personal experience serves only to add weight, or not, in others' eyes. In mine it does. (How do you feel about MADD, by the way>) It's not just a strawman to go after these women on these grounds, it's a particularly grotesque one.

Posted by: Thom at June 6, 2006 06:01 PM

right on!

Posted by: reliapundit at June 6, 2006 06:06 PM

True on all accounts, however, the hyperbole is EXACTLY why we're discussing this matter right now..Would it national or blogosphere news if you had made the argument you just did without resorting to hyperbole...I can see the headlines "confederate yankee makes great point about moral authority"...all over the place. Sometimes it takes hyperbole and shock to get those who normally dont respond to reason to begin on their path....

Posted by: redxiii at June 6, 2006 07:42 PM

Similarly, vets pimp out their vet-dom (see, eg: vets against Kerry). And, to reach across the partisan divide, I couldn't agree with you more: the cult of experience is far too prevalent.

Posted by: jpe at June 6, 2006 08:27 PM

Sometimes it takes hyperbole and shock to get those who normally dont respond to reason to begin on their path.

Um....I don't think anyone that doesn't already sleep with a Coulter doll (*shiver*) would respond positively to that kind of rhetoric. I think what you mean is that it gets headlines, whereas CY's far more sensible, reasonable way of expressing the point will never wind up with him being followed by paparazzi.

Posted by: jpe at June 6, 2006 08:30 PM

Fed, I like the post.

I think Coulter is way to viperish, but in this she is the only prominant (spelling?) individual willing to say something that everyone else offers up caveat upon caveat before correcting the incorrect assumptions and demands made by these women. The hot blonde "911 widow" just can't shut her friggen MOUTH!

My family almost lost their house due to de-regulation of the trucking industry that temporarily put a halt on new hiers while the transport corp's were re-aligning, does that make me an expert in interstate transit? NO!

My parents divorced. . . . TWICE! does that make me a proffessor of contract law or whatever the hell it is called? Obviously not, I don't even know how that is defined.

I joined the Marine Corps, does that make me a master tactician? NO!

One SMALL experience doesn't make you an expert, and these individuals, the women in particular aren't even experienced directly. They are VICARIOUS in their experiences, they play up their victimhood, of vicarious loss, not their specific first hand experience, to gain the celebrity.

"feel for me!" "Love ME!" "I know what I'm talking about I knew someone who has been there, but they are dead, so don't worry, I telepathicaly know exactly what they were experiencing at the time so I am a fully qualified and valuable expert in these matters."

The Jersey girls might have had good intentions, but THEY with their moral authority created 2 of the most convoluted, and thoroughly unmanageable beuracracies this nation has known. Mad about DHS? Blame them, Mad about NSA? Blame them, Mad about FEMA you can blame them.

Their moral authority did a LOT of damage. I knew a lot of people who are dead, I didn't inherit their wisdom. This isn't Stranger in a Strange land, where I grokked their flogging wisdom, while feeding upon their corpses, but that won't keep these self righteous individuals from feeding at the trough of dead peoples.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at June 6, 2006 09:34 PM

The right had their own 911 widows that made a fuss over the Freedom Museum, and their assertion of moral authority was equally absurd.

Posted by: jpe at June 6, 2006 11:06 PM

Follow the careers of the Jersey Girls and you'll find that they turned grief into greed within days of 9-11. They're only concern is money and i'm here stick a camera in my face.

Posted by: Scrapiron at June 7, 2006 12:23 AM

Scrap? I wouldn't say JUST greed. I DO believe they had grief, but I think they also had an opinion of self that they were willing to capitalize on. I remember watching an interview with the hot blonde widow, where she called herself smart at least 3 times in a 4 minute interview about her own grief.

I never call myself smart, though I would call her stupid. thats a big difference.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at June 7, 2006 01:37 AM

Yankee: The point, of course, was simply this: personal tragedy does not bestow omnipotence upon the bereaved.

Thom: Who said it did?

Me: I believe one of the first was Maureen Dowd when she said "the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute." Lots of people have said it since then. Most angry liberal websites agree.

Posted by: Kevin at June 7, 2006 03:30 AM

Kevin, follow that up with all the Kerry and Murtha followers that say they know better because they were in the service, neither of them were there going through what our men and women are going through in Iraq now. Yet, they "Know better".

Posted by: Retired Navy at June 7, 2006 05:15 AM

I agree with the comments made by Coulter. I am glad that someone will come forward and wade through the bull and say what is apparent. When I watch the news and these women are consulted as if they are some type of authority, it sends me through the roof. I sympathize with them in their grief, but their period of grieving is over and has nothing to do with the national agenda. If they offer an opinion on policy, it can be debated as anyone else who offers a position. What really steams me is because their emotionalism was allowed to structure policy it has robed us of our freedoms. We now have the TSA, Homeland security and other origanizations that are totally useless but restrict our daily lives. Coulter has finally said what policy should be and that is carrying the war to the Muslims and only the Muslims and not allowing government to bother those that are not the problem (like me when I try to get on a plane).

Posted by: David Caskey at June 7, 2006 10:22 AM

Ten Muslim high-jackers caused the deaths of these women's husbands; do they ever talk about that?

Posted by: Tom TB at June 7, 2006 10:54 AM

Tom TB wrote:
"Ten Muslim high-jackers caused the deaths of these women's husbands; do they ever talke about that?"

I'm sure we can both agree that ten or nineteen or how ever many Muslim high-jackers there were should not have been able to come into our country undetected and do what they did. You believe that it was only the Muslim high-jackers. I don't. I believe there were traitors on the inside who helped them. Either way, we need to find out the truth about what happened on 9/11 and make sure it never happens again. The 9/11 widows are fighting for that.

Posted by: Chris at June 7, 2006 05:11 PM

Anybody that agrees with that nutjob Ann Coulter needs to get their heads out of their asses.
Why isn't anybody talking about the mothers who created MAAD? Aren't they doing the same thing that these 'Jersey Girls' are doing?
What I would love to know is, why focus on a skinny attention whore like Ann Coulter, who only voices extremist views for sales and attention.
To say she is right with her assertion only proves the idiocy that the right has based their pathetic platform on.
Matt Lauer should've taken her apart, but she is smart because she will never go on a show where the hosts will really question her. Matt had her flailing and you could honestly see her adam's apple shaking in her pencil shaped throat. LOL
I dare that self righteous ugly broomstick of a woman to appear on 'The Daily Show'.

Posted by: SamTejada at June 7, 2006 07:07 PM

Ann made the statement in her book. Matt Lauer made sure it was one of the qoutes that he questioned her about. She defended her statement well.

Ann's point is a good one. These women can complain about Bush, the war, whatever - No big deal. But just because they had a terrible loss, it does not mean that they are off limits in challenging their assertions and statements. The left wants them free to bash Bush at every turn, without allowing anyone the opportunity to engage them in dialogue - callign it "immoral" to "attack" grief stricken widows.

How has the MSM treated the widows that support Bush? Are they booked onto all the shows? Are they invited to speak all over the place? Are they allowed to say anything they want, without challenge, against Jack Murtha or John Kerry?

Fast forward - Hillary is having fits, newspapers and tv outlets are having fits. Some other politicians are having fits.

Thanks you Ann. You've managed to knock some things off the "front page", at least for awhile.

The same people that, two days ago, were complaining about why we were "wasting" our time on the Marriage amendment - weren't there more "important" things to talk about? are now using all of their free time complaining about statements by a conservative author. Funny.

Sam - Most MAAD mother's work apolitically. They just want drunks off the roads - something all of us (except the drunks) are in agreement with. Not a valid comparison.

Posted by: SouthernRoots at June 7, 2006 11:25 PM

Don't call those widows "Jersey Girls". I'm the real thing and they're f&cking offensive to me. Got to agree 100% with everyone who hates their guts. They're reveling in celebrity and cashing out big time on a tragedy. They made the rabid celebrity, which Monica Lewinsky got, after she was exposed for sucking Clinton's wancker, look like a "Girl Scout" just trying to sell her "cookies". These widows are shameless whores, profiting off of their husbands demise, and Coulter is way too tame in the way she expresses herself.

Posted by: JerseyGirl at June 8, 2006 08:20 AM

I think that Ann is right on. Now, some people just don't respond to sarcasm, but too bad. I think that Matt was shocked that he couldn't rock her(ANN). He wanted her to slip and say "the widows shouldn't be allowed to have an opinion" On the contrary, Ann was saying they are allowed to have an opinion, just like Ann, Matt or anyone else, but they shouldn't be immune to criticism for their opinions just because of their situation. I love Ann because she totally comes out, guns a blazing and doesn't give a rat's a$$ about political correctness, thank God someone is doing this.
Rock on Ann!!!!

Posted by: mamabird at June 9, 2006 09:40 AM

Right or wrong about her comments, the tragedy here is that Ann Coulter is listened to by anybody.

She makes up shit in her head and passes them off as facts to support her views.

She should not be part of any serious discourse because she has proven (through made-up "facts") that she is not to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Robert at June 9, 2006 03:40 PM

What "made up facts" are we refering to? I know in her books she backs almost every single fact with a reference.
Why is it that when any Conservative speaks up they are automatically dismissed by the left as "making up facts", when in fact they can show where they got the info. but let any Lib. spout off and we have to bow down at their "gems of wisdom" and most Liberal "facts" don't seem to get checked by anyone other than Conservatives. Are Liberals just fooling themselves? I shall go and ponder that.

Posted by: Mamabird at June 9, 2006 05:23 PM

Great commentary from both sides... I really enjoy hearing the points of view from both sides.

I am a voting Democrat & I cannot think of a single Democratic politician that I would support at any level in 2006 or 2008.

I am looking forward to reading Ann's book and will swap it with any liberal, I will read what you want and then we can discuss.

Posted by: Ed of Tampa at June 10, 2006 10:15 PM

Ann Coulter is poison..No godfearing Democrats. If she wants a one party society(they exist) What are her aims? civil war. Give me the balance that comes from a two party system. "there are bad republicans but there are no good democrats"..How can this be of value to our country. Ann Coulter would have been hung as a witch by her own ilk two centuries ago. The creator gives you a choice..She has chosen poorly.

Posted by: ray at June 12, 2006 04:37 PM

Ann really went over the top on the jersy girls, its unfortunate this is necessary in todays status. Laurr sandbagged her; but what would you expect from an absolute liberal jerk. I suspect that there was true sorrow for the widows for a time,any other comments made by them is fair game

Posted by: BS of Lancaster at June 23, 2006 07:48 PM