Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ignoring bigotry won’t work

October 18, 2007


I already know what's going to happen after I write this column.

Someone is going to say, why did you waste space condemning the latest drivel from the mouth of Ann Coulter? Don't you know she only says these outrageous things to promote her books? Why reward her with attention?

The argument is not without merit. Coulter plays the news media like Louis Armstrong once played his cornet. She is a virtuoso of stage-managed controversy. So there's something to be said for refusing to play along, for ignoring her in the hope that she will just go away.

But some things only fester and grow in the dark. Some things use silence as assent.

Last week, Coulter said that in her perfect America, everyone would be a Christian. She said this to Donny Deutsch, who was hosting her on his CNBC program, "The Big Idea." Deutsch, who is Jewish, expressed alarm. Whereupon Coulter told him Jews simply needed to be "perfected" - i.e., made to accept Jesus as savior. Which is, of course, one of the pillars (along with the slander of Christ's murder) supporting 2,000 years of pogroms, abuse and Holocaust.

I suspect the reason some people believe that kind of ignorance is best ignored is that they find it difficult to take it seriously, or to accept that Coulter - or those who embrace her - really believes what she says. After all, this is not 1933, not 1948, not 1966. It is two-thousand-by-God-oh-seven, post-Seinfeld, post-Gore-Lieberman, post-Schindler's List. We no longer live in the era when open anti-Semitism could find wide traction. This is a different time.

But time, Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, is neutral. Time alone changes nothing. It is people who make change in time. Or not. So you have to wonder if this determined sanguinity in the face of intolerance is not ultimately an act of monumental self-delusion.

While some of us are cheerfully assuring one another that They Don't Really Mean It, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of hate groups in this country has risen by a whopping 40 percent in just the past seven years. If you had spent those years, as I have, jousting in print the agents of intolerance, you would not be surprised. It would be all but impossible to quantify, but I've noted a definite spike, not simply in the hatefulness of some people, but in the willingness to speak that hatefulness openly and without shame. What used to be anonymous now comes with a name and address.

Like Coulter, many of those people find intellectual cover under the cloak of conservatism. It is a development thoughtful conservatives (the very need to use that qualifier makes the case) ought to view with alarm. For all that Colin Powell, J.C. Watts, the presidents Bush and others have done to posit a friendly new "big tent" conservatism, Coulter and others have done even more to drag the movement back toward open intolerance.

That will be read as criticism of conservatism, but I intend a larger point. After all, liberalism has had its own unfortunate extremes - the drug use of the '60s, the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army and the like. The difference is, say what you will about Michael Moore or Jesse Jackson, they are not pushing back toward that which has been discredited. Coulter is.

And if some of us are laughing that off, not everybody is.

So this is not about bashing conservatives. It is, rather, about challenging them, and all of us. Within living memory, we have seen Jews in boxcars and blacks in trees and silence from those who should have been shouting. They pretended it wasn't happening until it already had.

So, what about Ann Coulter? What about the push-back against diversity, pluralism and tolerance, that she represents? I keep hearing that we should just ignore it.

My point is, that's been tried before. It didn't work.


kansas778 10 years, 7 months ago

Liberalism has been discredited, so the entire movement is doing what he laments.

Bubbles 10 years, 7 months ago

This drival is what I expect from a bigot.

Ragingbear 10 years, 7 months ago

Now Chewbacca is a wookie. Now I know what your thinking "Chewbacca is a wookie. That does not make sense". But Chewbacca lives on Endor. Which is populated with Ewoks. So if this does not make sense you must aquit...

Or something.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 7 months ago

Who's the bigot? Easy answer, right winger You and those who share your views. ============= Were his statistics inaccurate? Not trying to stir anything, just curious about the validity of the claim.

Godot 10 years, 7 months ago

Hey, Pitts, since when has Christianity been confined to a single race? Just wondering.

erod0723 10 years, 7 months ago

I didn't think that anybody would actually defend Ann Coulter over Leonard Pitts. I guess there's something in the water today...

Godot 10 years, 7 months ago

At least one does not have to guess where Ann Coulter is coming from. I am still trying to figure out how stating that you believe your religion is best is "bigoted." If you did not believe your religion was best, why would you have chosen it?

casualprophet 10 years, 7 months ago

Setting aside the personal attacks, the fact is that reasonable people need to vocally respond to outrageous statements like those made by Ann Coulter. It does not equate to feeding her publicity machine as long as the responses are made by reasonable people on all sides of the political and social spectrum.

I defend Ms. Coulter's right to free speech. She is free to discuss her point of view, to the extent that she is not explicitly inciting violence or other hate crimes. Likewise, reasonable people have the right and responsibilty to analyze and respond to those statements which are particularly dangerous.

While I think Mr. Pitts' column could have been more thoughtfully written, the central point is absolutely valid. Ms. Coulter is walking on the extreme edge with this kind of talk. Are the American people really ready to accept her positions as mainstream?

My personal hope is that Ms. Coulter will have some kind of profound experience that leads her to a deeper awareness of reality, an experience that leaves her filled with compassion, understanding and the gentleness of spirit that most beautifully characterises the faith which she seems to espouse.

llama726 10 years, 7 months ago

I don't have a problem with people spouting their ignorant crap about anything. I hold my own beliefs but the problem with radical conservatism and radical liberalism is that they lose sight of what is important in terms of their viewpoints, and they then seek only to destroy opposing viewpoints.

Coulter is a nutjob, if you don't know this you don't understand her. You can't compare a lady who advocates this much violence to Micheal Moore simply because the man went to Cuba to make a political point. They're both pundits. But people don't like Moore because they quickly dismiss him as the left's Ann Coulter. That's just not correct- though he is abrasive and says challenging things, he's not out here saying that Jews should convert their religion, nor is he sitting around attacking people baselessly

kugrad 10 years, 7 months ago

If one actually reads Ann Coulter one has to be disturbed that anyone is willing to accept the arguments she puts forth as rational thought - meaningful dialouge on valid issues. That is what scares me. That anyone would accept such extremism as reasonable and rational. There is no one else like her that I am aware of.

Frankly, I truly believe she is mentally ill. I did not think this from reading her earlier books, but she made a series of public appearances for her last 2 books (prior to the new one) that I saw on video at various times. I could not help but conclude that she was not well. So, now, although I don't ignore racism, I ignore Ann Coulter. I honestly think she needs some medical intervention. She does not appear to be a healthy person. Something is terribly wrong with her psychologically.

Reasonable people are almost certainly going to find themselves holding liberal positions on some issues and conservative positions on others. Those who are fanatical and/or take extreme postitions that are consistently at one end of the spectrum or the other are likely not educated, well-informed, reasonable people. Neither the left nor the right can consistently choose the best approach on every issue.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

"Ignoring Bigotry Won't Work".....maybe ignoring PItts will work.

Podesta 10 years, 7 months ago

Bingo! Cynical gets it. Much of the frothing at the mouth of bigots about someone like Leonard Pitts is just plain jealousy. He is a person of on intelligence and achievement and they are not. Their delusion of superiority is confounded whenever they are forced to confront reality.

Right-Thinker functions as a lying machine. Let me take a moment to debunk one. Rep. Keith Ellison is a mainstream Muslim. His views are quite moderate and usually acts with pragmatism of the good lawyer he is.

The racists will lose in the long run. The country will be majority minority by mid-century and there is nothing to do to stop it. Being a racist will become the disadvantage it should have been all along. Until then, expect continuing bigotry from them. We must counter it as best we can.

jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

I'd like to see Pitts write on something other than racism and bigotry every once in a while. Just for variety. It's getting to the point, kind of like with Cal Thomas's articles, that as soon as I see the headline, even just in most discussed, I already know that it's his new column.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 7 months ago

Oh poor right thinker and all the other bigots. The blacks keep you from getting good jobs and living in a nice place. But then you wouldn't be able to post your anonymous hatred on forums. Woe is you.

kugrad 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm going to have to agree with Jonas. Pitts is skilled, he should mix it up. He gave a great speech at KU. He is an articulate speaker and writer. Surely he could provide insight into some other issues. Race and intolerance are huge problems, and do seem to be growing, but people will tune out anything that is too repetitive.

kugrad 10 years, 7 months ago

The Robert Byrd character assasination attempts here really ring hollow. Byrd's brief association with the Klan was in the 1940s. He has profusely apologized for it many times, and his record shows that he is not a racist. Yes, he used the N-word on Fox news. Here is the quote: ""My old mom told me, 'Robert, you can't go to heaven if you hate anybody.' We practice that. There are white n-----s. I've seen a lot of white n----s in my time; I'm going to use that word."

I've heard quite a few regular right-wing posters on this LJW site use this same argument time and again. I don't agree with Byrd saying it, I don't really understand this perspective, but it was misleading to post a comment about him dropping the "n bomb" without any context.

Byrd is a very interesting character, very American. To portray him as a racist or klansman takes an active will to ignore much and emphasize little. It is an intentional distortion or ignorance, but not truth.

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 7 months ago

Woohoo!!! The right wing psychos are out in force!! Spreading their hate and misinfomration per usual. Stupidly demanding that others be tolerant of their intolerance.

I can't believe no one has started talking about what a babe that shemale Coulter is again. I've said it before . . . Catherine Crier make Ann Coulter look like a methed out fluffer.

kugrad 10 years, 7 months ago

"Race and intolerance are huge problems, and do seem to be growing:."- kugrad

Right thinker asks: "Who/what demographic, in your opinion, is most racist and intolerant?"

That is a tough question and I can't offer an opinion. Clearly, racism and intolerance have shown a resurgance among Whites, but I think it would be safe to say this is not the only group. It is a worldwide issue. In my opinion, in the USA we worry about it more, but are not, as a group, as blatantly racist as many other nations of the world. Certainly Americans don't deserve to be singled out as the top racists, nor would is it likely to be fair or accurate to single out whites as the worst group among Americans. That may be what gets to people who don't like Pitts - he doesn't often give the impression that there is plenty of blame to spread around.

Can anyone quantify racism? Not to my knowledge. Like Pitts, I just see it more out in the open now. It was probably always there, but people seem to have lost a sense of shame about being racist. The "most racist and intolerant?" - ironically, that may just be an area of great equality! I think Americans are 'sharing the love' on those fronts. If you forced me to pick, just said I HAD to choose, my initial opinion MIGHT lean toward evangelical christianists (as opposed to Christians), but a lot of that is on the 'intolerant' front, as opposed to just plain old racist.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 10 years, 7 months ago

I've been ignoring this forum all day, and it hasn't worked.

mick 10 years, 7 months ago

"What about the push-back against diversity, pluralism and tolerance?" Those words have become code for lowered standards in every facet of our culture. Cry me a river Pitts.

kugrad 10 years, 7 months ago

I have been a Christian essentially my entire life. I was born into a Christian family and raised in the church. I attended parochial school. I am still active in church. I have never felt "oppressed," or felt discriminated against - certainly not from the left. Sometimes atheists can be rude or offensive when they lump all Christians together as though such a thing were possible, but I don't feel they are generally intolerant. A great irony is that the only real intolerance I have experienced as a Christian has come from evangelicals! Literalists who think they have a hot-line to God and the only correct interpretation of the Bible (and whose reading comprehension skills are so poor that even literalism is a challenge). The concept of someone being "more" Christian than someone else was pretty alien to me until I went to Rock Springs Camp (a Christian camp) and met some children from evangelical sects who thought they were the only "real" Christians there. Somehow I doubt these intolerant children grew up to become liberal progressives.

At any rate, there have been many times in my life as both a student and as an adult when I felt that being Christian was actually giving me an unfair advantage - teachers dealt with me differently, employers who were Christian took my faith into account when it was probably not appropriate for them to do so and so on. I have occasionally been offended or dealt with insensitively, but I don't feel Christians face intolerance.

Christianists, those who advance a political and cultural agenda that they claim is based in faith, but is more based in culture (the Christian equivalent of Islamists and just as scary), may feel they experience some intolerance. What they are experiencing is a rejection of their politics and agenda - a much different beast than intolerance.

Rationalanimal 10 years, 7 months ago

"Someone is going to say, why did you waste space condemning the latest drivel from the mouth of Ann Coulter?"

Actually, we were all thinking your comments were referenced towards Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson or Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Rationalanimal 10 years, 7 months ago

"One black clergy who supported Bush in 2004 said, many of the black clergy that voted for Bush in the last election may switch their support back to the Democratic Party if Republicans do not do a better job in proving that that they really value black republicans and want a relationship with blacks."

This thought process illustrates the root of the race problem. It is simply because people are stuck in the box of perpetually thinking about race. Let it go. Stop thinking about. Stop demanding reparations. This is America. Nobody's being kept down with the exception of those that allow themselves to be kept down by their own submission to what others think. Blacks who overcome poverty are slandered and systematically discredited by today's black racial leaders and the democrat party. Example, Clarence Thomas, one of the finest Supreme Court Justices of that great court. He came from the poorest of the poor, and most uneducated of the uneducated. In America, you can choose to be successful, you can choose to be mediocre, and yes, you can choose to be an abissmal failure. It doesn't matter if you're white, black, green, pink, brown or purple, male or female. You're the master of your destiny in America. If you don't like where you live, if you don't like the car you drive, if you don't like your neighbors, if you don't like your health care, get off your rump and do something about. The best thing minorities can do is to stop listening to the "you can't do it" message that has been perpetually pounded into their conscious mind by racial leaders for the last 20 years. You can do it. This is America. Currently, the only person that can stop you from success, is you. Show me a man or woman that has the self confidence such that they truly don't care about what others think, be they black, be they white, be they brown, that is a person that is or will find success.

kugrad 10 years, 7 months ago

Point well taken 75 x 55, but I don't believe I lumped all evangelicals together. I was just talking about my experiences. Looking back over my post, I don't see that I made any sweeping generalizations about evangelicals in general. But then maybe you weren't saying I did? I can't tell.

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