Ann Coulter’s recent inflammatory remarks about “better blacks” within the conservative movement have continued to fan the flames surrounding the role of race in Herman Cain’s campaign. In her typical fashion, Coulter has steadfastly defended those remarks despite her critics.
While it is hard to decipher Coulter's true intentions, her statements about black conservatives should be condemned as fictitious hypocrisy that portray her disturbing ignorance towards African Americans within the electorate. Coulter is simply fueling her own agenda with incendiary comments that are designed to stir up controversy.
When discussing any of Coulter’s statements, a healthy dose of skepticism is needed. A simple YouTube search will bring up hundreds of Coulter sound bites that are shocking, if not vile, to many Americans. Her most recent comments, which stemmed from Cain’s sexual harassment scandal, follow this pattern. A common initial reaction is to write her off as a far-right radical, but the fact that she makes a living off the controversy she creates helps to put some of her words into context. As seen in the “better blacks” interview on Fox News, her book is happily promoted as a subtext to her provocative remarks. In spite of this context, her comments are inexcusable.
Coulter’s comments about conservative blacks being more impressive than liberal blacks are simply unfounded. She can extrapolate all the conclusions she wants from handpicked examples of African Americans in the Republican Party as opposed to those in the Democratic Party, but she has no documented proof. This reminds me of a comparable argument posed by Sarah Anzia and Christopher Berry that concluded that females in Congress are “better” than males because females have to endure a biased and tougher selection process. Coulter is essentially trying to make the similar argument that African Americans within the Republican Party are “better” because they face more barriers to being conservative than their liberal counterparts. However, unlike the Stanford and Chicago study, which used rigorous analysis and empirical data, Coulter simply does not have a foundation for her claim.
While Coulter’s argument was given hastily and one could argue that she did not have hard evidence on hand, she has been given the chance to defend herself. She has firmly backed her claim by giving examples of individuals who fit her model, the most relevant being Cain. Coulter contends that Cain is being unfairly criticized because of his race. Hypocritically, this is the same tactic that she assailed liberals for using when Obama was running for president. The use of the race card with Cain shows the weakness of Coulter’s position. Coulter chose the easy way to defend Cain by pinning the media criticism on his race, rather than Cain’s frequent propensity towards political gaffes.
Coulter has shown herself to be woefully ignorant of African Americans in the electorate. When other prominent figures have tried to move past the issue and actually improve the political dialogue, Coulter continues to stir up controversy in hopes of boosting her own dwindling relevance on the national stage. Spewing such unfounded claims is harmful for constructive political dialogue and ultimately harmful for the Republicans who must cater to some of the far right passions she inspires.
This is not the first or the last time that Coulter will assert the hard-line views from which she thrives, a detriment to productive politics.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore