Coulter: Somehow things get even worse When she's wrong she's off the charts

July 24, 2006|By GREGORY KANE

Oh Lordy, it's worse than I thought.

It's been well over a month since my column on Ann Coulter's comments about the "Jersey Girls" - four women who lost their husbands in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Coulter, in her new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism, called the "Jersey Girls" "witches" and "harpies" and observed, "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

Those comments sparked a wealth of criticism against Coulter, but they're not the worst ones in the book. Coulter has said that since the "Jersey Girls" involved themselves in the political process by criticizing President Bush for the events of 9/11 while supporting Sen. John Kerry - Bush's Democratic rival in the 2004 presidential race - that the four widows were fair game.

About that, Coulter is right, though most commentators would have steered clear of the "enjoying their husbands' deaths" line. What I found most offensive in Coulter's book is her view of public school teachers. Apparently, Coulter has a bee in her bonnet about public school teachers being routinely portrayed as heroes in Hollywood films. It would seem her dudgeon should be directed at producers, directors and screenwriters, but that wouldn't be Coulter.

When she's right, Coulter is dead on target. But when she's wrong, she's egregiously wrong, as she was in this line:

"In real life, these taxpayer-supported parasites are inculcating students in the precepts of the Socialist Party of America - as understood by retarded people."

Notice Coulter doesn't qualify that statement with words like "some" - as in "some teachers are taxpayer-supported parasites - or even "many." It's "these taxpayer-supported parasites." That means all of them: the bad ones, the mediocre ones, the good ones and the excellent ones.

Later on, in the chapter called "The Liberal Priesthood: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Teacher," Coulter notes that "the average teacher's salary (in 1999) was $43,300, compared to $40,100 for other full-time workers - who, I note, don't get summers off or leave work at 3:00 p.m."

Oh, what I wouldn't give to get Coulter in a Baltimore City classroom for only one day. She'd learn a thing or two about the "taxpayer-supported parasites" who are brave enough to teach in this town. Or maybe a Baltimore teacher could sit Coulter down and tell her about the cold, hard facts of being a "taxpayer-supported parasite."

From what teachers have told me, what they spend out of their own pockets on supplies and other educational materials would have to be deducted from that average salary of $43,300. That Baltimore teacher might have a few words for Coulter about the "leaving work at 3:00 p.m." business, too.

Some of these parasites come to work early and leave late - the better to give those students who need it extra help. A teacher's day in Baltimore - and I suspect this is true for those parasites in Maryland's 23 counties - doesn't end at 3 p.m., either. When those teachers get home, they're making up lesson plans for the following day, perhaps checking test papers. I'd wager these parasites put in a longer work day than Coulter does.

And Baltimore teachers do this while having to fight the bureaucracy at North Avenue, where a disproportionate amount of the money given to our schools stays. I'm sure those parasites would love for some elected city official - City Council representatives, state legislators, the mayor - to ask the honchos at North Avenue why administrative costs in Baltimore are so high - higher even than some school systems with more students. But that's not likely to happen.

How do Coulter's least offensive comments generate the most news while her most offensive ones fly under the radar? I can't be the only one who remembers her clarion call for the United States to invade Islamic countries, kill their leaders and convert Muslims to Christianity. Imperialism was rejected years ago, even by those countries doing the "imperialing."

But even that wasn't her most offensive. I was really miffed when Coulter accused actress Halle Berry of "mau-mauing" her way to an Oscar.

I get really worried about white people who feel comfortable throwing around terms like "mau mau" and "mau-mauing" just because they happen to be talking about somebody black. It shows a fundamental ignorance of what has been erroneously called the "Mau Mau" war in Kenya during the 1950s. (Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president, who was incorrectly reputed to be the leader of the "Mau Mau," said he wasn't familiar with that term in any of Kenya's ethnic languages.)

David Anderson, in his excellent book Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, suggested that the "Mau Mau" uprising wasn't just a rebellion against colonialism, but virtually a civil war between loyalist and rebel factions of Kenya's Kikuyu people. It was not the racist "kill-all-white-folks" movement that a hysterical American press of the 1950s made it out to be.

I could say Coulter was guilty of some "Ku Klux Klanning" in her comments about Berry, but I won't go there. But it does sound like "mau-mauing" is just a sneaky substitute for the "n" word.

greg.kane@baltsun.com

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