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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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