Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Ann Coulter. Or do they? I tried (in my own humble, Godless way) to trash her in a blog earlier this year, but it was a mistake. Since then I've changed my ways. I am now an Ann Coulter fan, and you should be, too.
For those of you who missed it, Ms. Coulter suggested in a recent interview on CNBC that in a perfect world, everyone would be a Christian. It's the fast track, you see. Jews, as she put it, should be "perfected."
Oh, Ann. I can't fight it any more. You've finally won my heart.
Please, before you organize a flurry of anti-anti-Semitic e-mails, allow me to explain; I don't have a Jew-hating bone in my baptized body. In fact, I recently worked as an administrative assistant at a synagogue for four years, one of which was 2001. (Seeing 9/11 through the eyes of the Jewish community was a life changing experience.) Even as a very young man I was steeped in Judaism; I worked in a Jewish-owned and patronized gift-shop right out of high school, after which I worked at a dry cleaner in the Jewiest neighborhood of St. Louis Park – right by where the Orthodox families, tastefully adorned in black, walked to temple on the Shabbat. Prior to that, when I was just a little pisher, I attended summer camp at the St. Louis Park Jewish Community Center. So, please – save the anti-Semitic rant for the War-On-Christmas soldiers. I am the most Jewish atheist you will ever meet.
But I digress. Why, you must be asking yourself, do I champion suddenly anti-Semitic Susie Cream Cheese? The reason is simple, yet elusive. The short version is this: every time Ann Coulter opens her mouth, seven thousand undecideds decide to lean left-of-center. In other words, she is the angel of antagonism, trumpeting the horn of intolerance loud and clear so that the people might find their way. Thinking of voting for a republican bigot? Thinking of ex-communicating your gay daughter? Thinking of terrorizing a family planning clinic? Here's your chance to think twice. By so doing, you are refusing to align yourself with the same side of the culture wars that refuses to apologize for one of its loudest, shrewdest, and most hateful voices. And in a country where only the loudest voices seem to get heard, Ann Coulter has captivated our attention. We have finally found our poster child of the left. No, not of the right, of the left. This is the first and best reason to love her.
I must also rush to Ms. Coulter's defense on the issue of censorship. Why – please God why – does the left trip into the same old pitfall every single time? The neo-cons don't even have to set the traps anymore. Liberals just walk in and announce their captivity. I'm talking about the First Amendment and the double standard of free speech in the shadow of political correctness. (Ann, I know you can get next to that.) I just cringe when I see calls for censorship, no matter who be the offenders. If Ann Coulter gets to call 9/11 widows "harpies" with dwindling shelf lives, then Kathy Griffin gets to tell Jesus to "suck it." You can't rent The Fly without renting The Fly 2 (true). One just comes with the other.
So the same people who champion freedom of expression and equality are the same people who scream for Ms. Coulter's head. I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. You must allow all sides to be heard. You must give each partisan freak show equal time on the dance floor. You must rent The Fly 2 when you rent The Fly. And if you're afraid that whatever hateful, spiteful, ignorant rant you find yourself listening to will destroy all of civilization, well, you just aren't giving your next-door neighbors enough credit. Most people, already able to think for themselves since senior prom, will know a cold-hearted witch see when they see one.
It is for this reason that we must abhor calls for the censorship of Ann Coulter's speech. It's an easy dress to slip into, but I don't have to remind you where it was made. (Ever try to Google from Korea?) We don't need to silence people like Ann Coulter – on the contrary, her celebrity should be celebrated. Heck, her spotlight can be seen from outer space. She is alone in her ability to get so many people talking about so many important issues, and that is a good thing. She holds up a social barometer from which we may measure our progress. Just how far are we willing to go in any one given direction? Sure, God and country are important, but Hitler did us the great service of exposing what happens when love of God and country goes too far… and hopefully we shall never forget it.
It is in this respect that Ms. Coulter forces us to decide when the proverbial train has gone 'round the bend. Yes, I'll concede that a majority of Americans are against legalizing gay marriage. Fine. But I'd bet my iPod that only a handful of U.S. citizens would be willing to go on another witch-hunt for Jesus, slaughtering innocents by the tens of thousands just like we did in the 17th Century. No, most people would find such acts distasteful to their nature, irrespective of their views on gays and the Bible. "Thanks," they would say, "but no thanks." Likewise, the average citizen will most likely close his or her eyes in frustration when Ms. Coulter calls for the end of Jewry. They will suddenly find themselves, much to their own surprise, a bit farther to the left of center than they were on the day before.
The issue here is morality, and the time has never been more important. Censorship is the evil we should fear, not any one celebrity – no matter how controversial or hateful their views. Give Ann Coulter a break. She is only speaking her mind, and in so doing she is fanning the flames of tolerance (yes, tolerance) in this world. She holds up a mirror and offers us a chance to honestly ask ourselves just where we stand. She takes ethical arguments to their extreme, forcing us to question their validity. And something tells me she will be quick to hear what someone else has to say, even if she disagrees. Then she will turn on her heel and spit blood in the face of America, staining the neo-con legacy, and forever changing the face of the Republican Party. This is why Ann Coulter is my new friend, and she should be yours, too. (Heck, she's bound to accept my friend request on MySpace… anytime now.)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Not that I have any regular readers - hi Heidi - but if I did, I'm sure I'd be labeled as anti-religious by now. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I am a strong supporter of religious freedom. Far be it from me to go out of my way to attack religious folk out of spite or malice.
But if religious folk cross the line and threaten the institutions of science or politics, all bets are off. I won't hesitate to bite back… in my own little bloggish way.
It seems that there is a situation in England worth noting. According to an article in The London Times, British medical schools are facing a unique challenge from some of their Muslim students regarding the contents of their curriculum. They are refusing to learn about – or be tested on – diseases and disorders that stem from sexual activity and alcohol consumption. One student actually refused to complete his training because it involved the non-invasive examination of a member of the opposite sex. Apparently he would rather fail medical school than fail his faith.
The British Medical Association and the General Medical Council both publicly announced their displeasure with such actions, and rightly so. These scholastic boycotts constitute a direct threat to the ethical standards that strive to keep populations safe and healthy.
This is a perfect example of why I am such a huge supporter of the First Amendment. As I've written time and again, freedom of – and from – religion is absolutely crucial to our survival as a people and as a country. Sure, things like this happen here in the USA – but we have a mechanism in place to deal with them. Hopefully similar actions in the UK will not go unchallenged.
(By the way, there is a stunning parallel between the behavior of conservative Muslims in England and conservative Christians in the US: the refusal to dispense "morning after" pills in pharmacies on religious grounds. Talk about strange bedfellows.)
There have also been cases of Muslim cashiers refusing to handle pork, Muslim cab drivers refusing to drive blind people with seeing-eye dogs and Muslim cab drivers refusing to drive customers carrying alcohol. Are you kidding me?
Here's my rant: We live in pluralistic times. We must all strive to recognize and respect diversity, but we cannot compromise the larger public interest to do so. If you are going to be an exculsively devout Muslim, then don't enter medical school. Don't drive a cab. Don't work in a grocery store. Don't enter the larger society! If you put your faith before everything else, then everything else must end at your doorstep (including food, water, clothing, electricity... you get the idea). It's inexcusable to expect the world to conform to your religious demands once you step outside of your home, and doubly so if you demand goods and services (like a medical education) at the same time.
This doesn't mean that the Muslims are wrong and England is right, nor does it mean the contrary. It means we must learn to strike a balance. The beliefs of the few and the rights of the many must be simultaneously allowed, and this can only be achieved in a pluralistic, democratic union. Then we can share the pain, as it were. But pluralism is a two-way street: if religious people demand the right to their beliefs, then they must also respect the larger standards and ethics of the community in which they find themselves. The state can offer protection for private beliefs and practices, but only in exchange for the guarantee that those beliefs and practices cannot legally be foisted onto others. The wall between church and state must be thicker than the wall between mosque and synagogue.
To refuse to learn about the effects of "offensive" practices in medical school is the height of arrogance and ignorance. It has never worked out for the better when people thrust their heads into the sand. Only open, honest, free inquiry can move our civilization forward. This includes, but certainly is not limited to, learning everything about human health if you are to enter the healthcare field. I would like to end with a telling quote: Dr Abdul Majid Katme of the Islamic Medical Association, said: "To learn about alcohol, to learn about sexually transmitted disease, to learn about abortion, it gives us more evidence to campaign against it. There is a difference between learning and practising. It is obligatory for Muslim doctors and students to learn about everything. The prophet said, 'Learn about witchcraft, but don't practise it'."
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.
Just believing something to be true doesn't cut it. Neither God nor Jesus is mentioned by name in the United States Constitution.
We don't need another president too blinded by religion to clearly see the Constitution as it is - a secular document that protects all faiths by making our official religion no religion at all.