Sunday, October 14, 2007

Only Ann Coulter could give conversion a bad name

Ann Coulter is swimming in controversy again, this time for an interview with Donny Deutsch who took offense at his imperfections being pointed out. Here's the transcript:

DEUTSCH: Let me ask you a question. We're going to get off strengths and weakness for a second. If you had your way, and all of your — forget that any of them —

COULTER: I like this.

DEUTSCH: — are calculated marketing teases, and your dreams, which are genuine, came true having to do with immigration, having to do with women's — with abortion — what would this country look like?

COULTER: UMMMMM (pause) ... It would look like New York City during the Republican National Convention. In fact, that's what I think heaven is going to look like.

DEUTSCH: And what did that look like?

COULTER: Happy, joyful Republicans in the greatest city in the world.

DEUTSCH: No, no, no, no, but I'm talking about this country. You don't want to make this country — it's not about Republicans. I'm saying, what would the fabric of this country look like? Forget that the Republicans would be running the show.

COULTER: Well, everyone would root for America, the Democratic Party would look like Joe Lieberman, the Republican Party would look like Duncan Hunter —

DEUTSCH: No, no, no, I don't want — I'm not talking about politically the landscape. What would our — would we be safer? Would people be happier? Would they be more —

COULTER: We would be a lot safer.

DEUTSCH: Would there be more tolerance? Would there be — would women be happier, would the races get along better? The Ann Coulter subscription — prescription. What — tell me what would be different in our fabric of country, because —

COULTER: Well, all of those things.

DEUTSCH: I can give — I can give you an argument there would be more divisiveness, that there would be more hate —

COULTER: Oh, no.

DEUTSCH: That there would be a bigger difference between the rich and the poor, a lot of other — tell me what — why this would be a better world? Let's give you — I'm going to give you — say this is your show.

COULTER: Well, OK, take the Republican National Convention. People were happy. They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America, they —

DEUTSCH: Christian — so we should be Christian? It would be better if we were all Christian?


DEUTSCH: We should all be Christian?

COULTER: Yes. Would you like to come to church with me, Donny?

DEUTSCH: So I should not be a Jew, I should be a Christian, and this would be a better place?

COULTER: Well, you could be a practicing Jew, but you're not.

DEUTSCH: I actually am. That's not true. I really am. But — so we would be better if we were — if people — if there were no Jews, no Buddhists —

COULTER: Whenever I'm harangued by —

DEUTSCH: — in this country? You can't believe that.

COULTER: — you know, liberals on diversity —

DEUTSCH: Here you go again.

COULTER: No, it's true. I give all of these speeches at megachurches across America, and the one thing that's really striking about it is how utterly, completely diverse they are, and completely unself-consciously. You walk past a mixed-race couple in New York, and it's like they have a chip on their shoulder. They're just waiting for somebody to say something, as if anybody would. And —

DEUTSCH: I don't agree with that. I don't agree with that at all. Maybe you have the chip looking at them. I see a lot of interracial couples, and I don't see any more or less chips there either way. That's erroneous.

COULTER: No. In fact, there was an entire "Seinfeld" episode about Elaine and her boyfriend dating because they wanted to be a mixed-race couple, so you're lying.

DEUTSCH: Oh, because of some "Seinfeld" episode? OK.

COULTER: But yeah, I think that's reflective of what's going on in the culture, but it is completely striking that at these huge megachurches — the idea that, you know, the more Christian you are, the less tolerant you would be is preposterous.

DEUTSCH: That isn't what I said, but you said I should not — we should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians, then, or —


DEUTSCH: Really?

COULTER: Well, it's a lot easier. It's kind of a fast track.

DEUTSCH: Really?

COULTER: Yeah. You have to obey.

DEUTSCH: You can't possibly believe that.


DEUTSCH: You can't possibly — you're too educated, you can't — you're like my friend in —

COULTER: Do you know what Christianity is? We believe your religion, but you have to obey.

DEUTSCH: No, no, no, but I mean —

COULTER: We have the fast-track program.

DEUTSCH: Why don't I put you with the head of Iran? I mean, come on. You can't believe that.

COULTER: The head of Iran is not a Christian.

DEUTSCH: No, but in fact, "Let's wipe Israel" —

COULTER: I don't know if you've been paying attention.

DEUTSCH: "Let's wipe Israel off the earth." I mean, what, no Jews?

COULTER: No, we think — we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say.

DEUTSCH: Wow, you didn't really say that, did you?

COULTER: Yes. That is what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. You have to obey laws. We know we're all sinners —

DEUTSCH: In my old days, I would have argued — when you say something absurd like that, there's no —

COULTER: What's absurd?

DEUTSCH: Jews are going to be perfected. I'm going to go off and try to perfect myself —

COULTER: Well, that's what the New Testament says.

DEUTSCH: Ann Coulter, author of "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans," and if Ann Coulter had any brains, she would not say Jews need to be perfected. I'm offended by that personally. And we'll have more "Big Idea" when we come back.


DEUTSCH: Welcome back to "The Big Idea." During the break, Ann said she wanted to explain her last comment. So I'm going to give her a chance. So you don't think that was offensive?

COULTER: No. I'm sorry. It is not intended to be. I don't think you should take it that way, but that is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews. We believe the Old Testament. As you know from the Old Testament, God was constantly getting fed up with humans for not being able to, you know, live up to all the laws. What Christians believe — this is just a statement of what the New Testament is — is that that's why Christ came and died for our sins. Christians believe the Old Testament. You don't believe our testament.

DEUTSCH: You said — your exact words were, "Jews need to be perfected." Those are the words out of your mouth.

COULTER: No, I'm saying that's what a Christian is.

DEUTSCH: But that's what you said — don't you see how hateful, how anti-Semitic —


DEUTSCH: How do you not see? You're an educated woman. How do you not see that?

COULTER: That isn't hateful at all.

DEUTSCH: But that's even a scarier thought. OK —

COULTER: No, no, no, no, no. I don't want you being offended by this. This is what Christians consider themselves, because our testament is the continuation of your testament. You know that. So we think Jews go to heaven. I mean (Jerry) Falwell himself said that, but you have to follow laws. Ours is "Christ died for our sins." We consider ourselves perfected Christians. For me to say that for you to become a Christian is to become a perfected Christian is not offensive at all.

DEUTSCH: We will let the audience decide then, won't we? Ann Coulter. New book. More "Big Idea" straight ahead.
So basically Deutsch asks Coulter what her ideal United States would be, and among her other responses she expressed her desire that we were all Christians. Deutsch takes offense, presses her further, and Coulter expresses her desire for the "perfection" of the Jews. Deutsch gets even more offended.

How silly, really. Does Deutsch really believe himself to be perfect? Does he really believe Christians shouldn't pray for his conversion? Does he hold himself and other Jews to be of such low account that no Christian should want them to convert? Or should we all do our best imitation of Carmela Soprano? "The difference between you and me is you're going to Hell when you die."

Conservatives find themselves again in the uncomfortable position of having to clean up in the wake of Ann Coulter who will only move on to say something completely indefensible while trying to sell yet another book. Coulter already tried to stir up something with her remarks about women's suffrage, but even Coulter could not be taken seriously that time.

Again, let's note that what she said this time was perfectly defensible. However, if Deutsch (who was clearly probing for some obnoxious Coulterism) hadn't been sidetracked by the conversion issue, wasn't it likely Coulter would've said something else? We'll never know, although there's always the next interview.

So we're stuck defending a legitimate idea, one that was relatively uncontroversial, because Ann Coulter corrupts any idea that she comes in contact with. To her defenders I have to ask whether her schtick is finally growing old, and whether the damage she does to the conservative movement is really worth her selling a few more books.

(A couple of posts on the latest Coulter controversy worth noting: Rick Esenberg defends what Coulter says without defending Coulter, Al at Is Anybody There? looks to St Paul to explain Coulter, and then takes a longer look.)