"There is more dissent on a slave plantation then amongst moderates in the Republican Party," said the fetching-to-many Ms. Coulter last night. Well, I fancy myself a moderate. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies, Missy Ann, but here goes:
She bewitches me as she does most conservatives: she is a guilty pleasure, because she is criminally funny. She is demonstrably brilliant and knowledgable, with a mind fortified and honed by a top-flight legal education, and she says many things we're all thinking and daren't say. She is our Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl or Chris Rock. But it was last night, as a featured speaker at a major conservative conference, that our Ann uttered:
I think our motto should be post 9-11, raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.
(According to this account, that riff received a "boisterous ovation" from the 1000 young conservatives in attendance.)
Now after the murders of 3000 of our fellow citizens on 9-11, it's totally understandable and not just a little cathartic to cheer such a statement with an even greater fervor than a touchdown for the home team.
But as a part of our politics, no. Ann Coulter cannot be a part of our politics, and in this case, anywhere near the forefront of the Republican Party. I (we) made great hay of Michael Moore, who should remain an equally "guilty pleasure" for the left, sitting next to ex-President Carter at the 2004 Democratic Convention. The inmates had taken over the asylum, and it was a legitimate political attack to point that out. We shall be judged not only on how we deal with our opponents, but our problematic allies.
Ms. Coulter is welcome to remain in our asylum, because in politics, especially in a two-party system, you don't often get to pick who occupies your beds. The GOP took in the Dixiecrats; the Democrats accept the entertaining demagogue Al Sharpton, and many who are far worse.
But larger than partisan considerations, some "ragheads" are our fellow American citizens, too. Some were teammates on my cricket club. And if the war with militant Islam is to be contained (and it is a war), it will be moderate "ragheads" who will contain it. We cannot kill them all.
Ms. Coulter was dismissed as a contributor to the intellectual godfather of today's Republican Party, National Review, for refusing to retract the following statement:
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
Her friend Barbara Olson had just been murdered in the 9-11 attacks. Ms. Coulter's anger was understandable, and under the circumstances, even measured. She is obviously still angry.
So be it. Society has a place for those who will speak the unspeakable, think the unthinkable, our madmen, our artists, our philosophers, our passions, our minds.
We just gotta keep 'em from getting anywhere near the controls of the airplane. Bad things happen.