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Ann Coulter and tolerance?

| Thursday, February 20, 2014

“Attacking those who have different opinions from you is not only intolerant, but it is the disease plaguing liberal America.” This sweeping declaration is an excerpt from a Viewpoint column published in Wednesday’s Observer that was written by the president of College Republicans, Mark Gianfalla. Although I was tempted to engage further with the predictably ignorant and incendiary piece on its own, a related matter has arisen which deserves far more attention than Gianfalla’s latest rant. It was announced, via the Notre Dame College Republicans Facebook and Twitter accounts, that Ann Coulter will be speaking at this year’s Lincoln Day Dinner on April 10. At first, I took the news to be a hilarious joke. Within 24 hours of condemning all American liberals for “attacking people’s views,” Gianfalla and friends proudly announce the upcoming visit of Ann Coulter. The irony was literally too much to bear with a straight face.

However, my pained laughter soon succumbed to queasy feelings of deep disturbance. Put simply, Coulter has no place at Notre Dame and the decision on the behalf of College Republicans to feature her at their annual dinner is a disgrace not only to Abraham Lincoln in whose honor it is held, but to our University itself. Regardless of your political affiliation or level of involvement, every Notre Dame student, alumnus, faculty member and administrator should be disgusted at the notion of Ms. Coulter stepping foot on our campus, and I invite you to join me in urging the College Republicans to reconsider their invitation.

If you are unfamiliar with the style and tenets of Ann Coulter, I strongly encourage a trip to YouTube immediately. For space’s sake, I present only a few of her most heinous quotes on a variety of issues. On widows of September 11th victims: “These broads are reveling in their status as celebrities … I’ve never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.” On terrorism and Islam: “If only we could get Muslims to boycott all airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether.” On black Republicans: “Our blacks are so much better than their [Democrat’s] blacks. To become a black Republican, you don’t just roll into it. You’re not going with the flow…” On National Coming Out Day: “Last Thursday was national ‘coming out’ day. This Monday is national ‘disown your son’ day.” On liberals: “Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do. They don’t have the energy. If they had that much energy, they’d have indoor plumbing by now.”

And finally, on Notre Dame’s decision (yes, our Notre Dame) to have President Obama deliver the 2008 commencement address: “I don’t think he was speaking to people who have any objections to abortion … they should have had the administrators of Notre Dame onstage taking a polygraph test on whether they believe in God … No, I don’t believe these people are serious, genuine, practicing Catholics … How about for next year’s graduation ceremony Notre Dame have an abortionist perform an abortion live on stage? They could have a partial birth abortion for the advanced degrees.”

I hope these snippets produced the same intense, visceral anger that they did in me. As previously mentioned, it truly does not matter whether you are Tea Party or Green Party; this type of hate speech, racism, ignorance and complete disrespect for humanity should be found unacceptable by all. Fordham University found itself in an identical situation with Coulter just last year. We should emulate the response from its students and administrators, and I encourage Fr. Jenkins to read and reflect upon the remarks issued by Fordham president Rev. Joseph M. McShane, in which he stated: “There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative.” Although the university did not formally ban Ms. Coulter from their campus, for Fr. McShane appropriately added, “To prohibit Ms. Coulter from speaking at Fordham would be to do greater violence to the academy. … Preventing Ms. Coulter from speaking would counter one wrong with another,” Fordham’s College Republicans chose to rescind Coulter’s invitation after reconsidering their initial decision to host her.

The Notre Dame College Republicans are better than Ann Coulter. And as a Catholic university, we are all better than honoring a woman who so clearly contradicts Notre Dame and all that it stands for. Mr. Gianfalla, your generalized statements about liberals’ intolerance were both offensive and incorrect, but I agree that greater levels of tolerance should be encouraged not only in politics, but in all of our daily proceedings. However, there are some things for which I have no tolerance. I have no tolerance for someone who wishes we could revoke women’s suffrage. I have no tolerance for someone who makes her living inciting hate for the sake of being controversial. Finally, I have no tolerance for bigotry. And neither should you.


Sarah Morris is sophomore political science and american studies major in Ryan Hall.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


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  • Peter Castle

    Coulter is one of the most over-the-top, judgmental, and untrustworthy people on the planet. See the new book, Never Trust Ann Coulter – at ANY Age, available at http://www.coulterwatch.com/never.pdf.

    • jz

      wasn’t that book written by her stalker?

  • MMC

    This is typical of the left. Call a dissenting view “ignorant and incendiary” without discussing any of its substance in order to self-righteously relieve themselves of the temptation or need “to engage further.” Next, cherry pick quotes from Ms. Coulter without providing any context in the attempt to delegitimize anything else she may have to say. Then conclude with sanctimonious prattle about how tolerant the left really is, as long as someone who disagrees with me (“incites hate”) is not permitted to speak at ND.

    • CMM

      No need to generalize, pal. I always vote Republican and I also can’t stand Ann Coulter. Her remarks about Notre Dame were pretty incendiary regardless of context. I have seen the context and I believe it makes the quote even worse.

      There was no question of her permission to speak at Notre Dame. Ms. Morris is asking the Republicans to rescind their offer, not calling on the administration to ban the speech.

      I agree with Ms. Coulter’s political leanings, but she still does purposefully divide and incite hate.

  • ND04

    I think Ms. Morris’s bouts of laughter and nausea are preventing her from realizing the irony that her column is proving the point of the article by Mr. Gianfalla that she referenced.

    • JD

      Yeah, that would be super ironic if that were a thing that actually happened.

      • MMC

        Read the article. That’s exactly what happened. She mocks Mr. Gianfalla for daring to call out the left’s faux tolerance, and then proceeds to argue that a person she strongly disagrees with shouldn’t speak or set foot on campus. I’m not sure if Ms. Morris has read Rules for Radicals, but this is Alinksy 101.

        • Common sense

          Making a stand against people who are intolerant is not intolerance in itself.

          More simply, standing up to a bully is not bullying.

  • MFG

    I’m certainly no fan of Ann Coulter. On the other hand, I’m less fond of censoring speech. I wouldn’t be moving off my couch to hear her if she were in the next room. If you don’t want to hear what she has to say then exercise the same choice I’d make. Please spare us the moral outrage, however.

    • GFM

      This isn’t censoring speech. She is asking the College Republicans to rescind their offer and for the President of the University to speak out against Ms. Coulter, just like the administrators at Fordham did.

      • MFG

        If asking that someone rescind an invitation to a speaker because you don’t like the message isn’t censorship, what would you call it? I’m no defender of Ann Coulter. I think all she’s doing is trying to sell books and get paid for speeches by being outrageous. Again…if you don’t like the message then don’t listen to it.

        • GFM

          Here’s the issue as I see it: while this article could have been written a little bit better, the issue isn’t that Ms. Coulter is saying her words here. The issue is that she has been invited here in an official capacity to represent the views of an organization officially sponsored by the University. And some of her views run explicitly counter to the beliefs of the University. This isn’t about the speech, its about the stance of the College Republicans and the way their invitation reflects that stance.

          I am going to anticipate some opposition to this idea; I don’t mean to put words in your mouth. you could respond saying, “we let Obama come and he is counter to our beliefs, why not Ann?” Obama is the president of the United States, a position that holds merit regardless of the individual holding it and secondly, perhaps Ms. Morris would also think we shouldn’t have invited him, given her arguments here.

          • Reality Check

            What beliefs of hers are counter the university? The fact that she isn’t “Political correct”?

          • MMC

            You’re getting close. And that was the point of Mr. Gianfalla’s article. They will try to pass this off on the University, but the issue it that she’s conservative and doesn’t mince words or bow at the alter of political correctness. Because she holds views that a vocal segment rabidly opposes, she shouldn’t be able to express those views anywhere near them. So instead of actually debating her on the issues, leftists want tarnish her credibility in order to prevent an actual discussion of the issues. I ask, if her views are so extreme and represent such a small minority, why do they fear giving her the opportunity to speak?

          • joe

            Ann Coulter on our foreign policy in the islamic middle east:

            “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.”

            If you think she speaks with reason then you are as wacko as she is. But she doesn’t represent such a minority view in this country. There are many people as racist and bigoted as she is.

        • JD

          It’s asking someone to do the right thing.

          Censorship is an action of force.

  • Pingback: “Ann Coulter & Tolerance?” | homegrown daydreams()

  • Hello

    Sarah, I adore you. Every person who comes your way is someone who has been sent to teach you something about yourself. I’ve got your Amazon book placemarked.

  • Joseph

    Are people really defending Ann Coulter? What is wrong with this school!

  • jz

    “Coulter has no place at Notre Dame”? Sarah Morris must be bucking for the 2014 “Face of Intolerance” award…..

    • zj

      Couldn’t agree more. “Coulter’s hate has no place at Notre Dame” would have been a much better way to put this. In fact, as a person, Ann Coulter could afford to spend more time in a loving, familial institution such as Notre Dame. She may learn a thing or two.

  • Student16

    I believe that Ms. Coulter should not speak on campus because her hateful rhetoric violates the spirit of the Mission Statement of the University of Notre Dame. The statement says, “The intellectual interchange essential to a university requires, and is enriched by, the presence and voices of diverse scholars and students,” and “What the University asks of all its scholars and students, however, is not a particular creedal affiliation, but a respect for the objectives of Notre Dame and a willingness to enter into the conversation that gives it life and character. Therefore, the University insists upon academic freedom that makes open discussion and inquiry possible.”

    This insistence on academic freedom is part of what makes this University such a remarkable place, but I don’t think Ms. Coulter’s statements on the University clearly show she does not have “a respect for the objectives of Notre Dame and a willingness to enter into a conversation that gives it life and character.”

    • Reality Check

      Miss Coulter’s statements about Notre Dame show that she, unlike our own University administration, DOES have the respect for the objectives of Notre Dame. It was an insult to give President Obama an honorary degree; a gesture that represented the University affirming the highly pro abortion and pro gay marriage stances of the President.

      • giant1

        The United States abortion rate is lower under President Obama than at any time since the ROE v WADE decision. As a Notre Dame Alumnus I am disappointed that an ND student could be so poorly informed as yourself.

        • Reality Check

          And I am disappointed that you have no understanding on what the actual issue is. President Obama is pro-abortion, that has an effect on the legality of abortion and its allowance as a social norm, not the rate.

          • MMC

            And the decline in the abortion rate has nothing to do with Obama. It results from state legislatures passing laws for more accountability in the abortion industry and for more information to be provided to expectant mothers – all measures liberals and President Obama have opposed. The fact remains that there are still more than 3,000 abortions in this country every day, more than 1.2 million a year.

          • Joe

            Actually, no. Almost all of the decline in abortions have come from liberal states. Likely due to better information and increased access to contraceptives

          • MMC

            Do you care to provide any actual evidence that the decline is due to increased access to contraceptives? Also the pro-abortion industry has fought tooth and nail against laws mandating abortion clinics provide women with more information about the physical and mental damage caused to women by abortions, the fact that the baby can feel pain, informed consent laws, or other alternatives to abortion that the women have.

            In addition, the most recent statistics from the CDC for the decline from 2008 to 2009 indicate that the rate of decline was similar in 36 of 45 states that reported a decline. The percentage decrease in states carried by Bush in 2000 and 2004 was similar to that in states carried by his Democrat opponent.

            Finally, though I do not believe CDC numbers are available for these years, there have been more pro-life laws passed from 2011 to 2013 than the entire previous decade (according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute).

          • David

            Ann Coulter is a diseased woman who hates God and the Catholic Church. She is intolerant and unintelligent. As for the decline in abortions, this has nothing to do with unconstitutional state laws that make it harder to gain access to abortion facilities. This has everything to do with access to contraceptives, employment, insurance, and better decision making. Please, take a class at Notre Dame. Study the Catechism. Pray the Rosary. Volunteer with the poor. Open your mind. When Ann Coulter takes the place of the Virgin Mary in your faith life you know you are in trouble. I will be praying for you.

          • Vichina Austin

            Yes, the research on the decline in abortion rates can be misleading. These statistics don’t take into account women who have given themselves abortions because they don’t have access to proper resources. I think what ND students tend to forget is that not everyone can afford things like $60,000 tuition. And believe it or not, there are people out there who can’t afford abortion. The women who can’t afford abortion also can’t afford a child. Who would’ve guessed that?

            I grew up in the poor Southside of Chicago where women who can’t afford abortions take extreme measures to ensure that they wouldn’t simply be ‘giving birth’ to a child. A dear friend of mine once told me of the time he came home from school to find his brother’s girlfriend giving herself an abortion with a wire hanger. She succeeded, but also took her own life in the process.

            You see, if it’s not available to them, whether due to lack of funds or the law, women in situations where they are not suitable to take care of children will find dangerous methods for abortion. In turn, eliminating safer abortion procedures creates a much larger problem.
            There’s a difference between being pro-life and being pro-birth. Any woman can give birth to a child, but giving life to a child takes so much more than the human body.

            What we also need to begin to recognize is the concept of ‘choice’ in pro-choice. There is a such thing as “pro-choice, anti-abortion” which is the stance that many liberals, including Obama, take.

            I’m not saying that pro-lifers should abandon these views completely, but that we should take a step back and think critically about these issues and the effects our actions have and maybe we’ll find a common ground.

      • GoodComesFromHonesty

        If she is so devoted to Catholic teaching why didn’t she criticize Notre Dame for having president Bush speak at graduation? The death penalty rates were highest under his governing and he is pro-death penalty so isn’t that also against Catholic teaching?

        • sheesh

          The death penalty is a matter of conscience. Abortion is always wrong. If you’re Catholic, pull out your Catechism. If you’re not, don’t speak on things you know nothing about.

  • CMM

    Woah man! Not cool! You are assuming her viewpoint based on a generalized view you have of liberals and then attacking her for it! Of course she would think that most of these remarks are incendiary!

    Admittedly, you provide even less context than Ms. Morris’s quotes, and “unhinged” certainly isn’t even pejorative, not to mention incendiary.

    And as a Republican myself, I am okay if people have a little dirtier water if it means that our country is more sustainable in the long run, the cleaner water will come. So, it isn’t as if Obama is technically wrong on that one.

    Other than that though, I think Miss Morris would agree that referring to anyone, metaphorically or otherwise, as a pig, or some form of terrorist is incendiary.

    Except for arsonist. I don’t see anything incendiary about that… (wink wink)

    • MMC

      The context for all those quotes is Republican House members daring to stand in the way of the leftist agenda and publicly disagreeing with liberals. And when DWS called Republicans “unhinged,” she wasn’t using it as a compliment. And, I can’t make much sense of your comment about water pollution and sustainability.

  • rootbear911

    There are issues that I believe most Americans would say are settled. We could all probably agree that slavery is bad, women’s suffrage is good, equal rights should be guaranteed for all. Having “alternative viewpoints” on subjects like these is not the same as disagreeing on matters of public policy that are in today’s public forum. And saying that liberals are intolerant because they don’t want to engage in reviewing such topics is ludicrous.

  • Tedbaxter

    Joseph, are you criticizing this school because some students here have opinions that differ from your own? I wouldn’t look at the dome, friend, for the problem. I’d look in the mirror.

  • ND15

    I can’t believe that a group of students at Notre Dame are celebrating this women and actually invited her to speak on campus. She is entitled to express whatever hateful views she wishes, but universities like Notre Dame are places where ideas are debated with civility and respect. Ms. Coulter obviously has no idea what those words mean.

  • Francis

    Ann Coulter at Notre Dame? Why can’t the Republicans invite a real intellectual? Or at least someone who isn’t so hateful? Coulter is David Duke in high heels and a blond wig. College Republicans, perhaps you should have considered attending Liberty University, not the University of Notre Dame. Coulter is full of hate, just do some research (though I know that conservatives dislike research since it entails challenging received opinion instead of perpetuating Fox News style gossip). I hope officials at Notre Dame step in to protect this university from her vile hatred. If you want the Coulter experience, just Youtube it.

  • The Observer

    The fact that “The Observer” wants Ann Coulter’s invitation retracted shows their disrespectfulness to opposing viewpoints. If “The Observer” feels so strongly about this guest, they should just invite a guest of their own! Instead of trying to Oppress other viewpoints, just ADD an additional perspective!

  • sheesh

    It’s called satire, sweetheart.