Conservative columnist Ann Coulter visited GW’s campus Feb. 10.
Gary Livacari defends the decision to bring her to campus. Tim Kaldas explores what it means for the College Republicans to stand behind Coulter’s remarks.
Last Friday, Feb. 10, Gary Livacari, the political affairs director of the GW College Republicans, speaking at a GW College Republicans event featuring Ann Coulter, stated, “Our organization will remain devoted to its founding principles, and continue to host speakers, like Ann Coulter, who remind us what those principles are.” Coulter has consistently showered the world with racist and Islamaphobic commentary. Are these the founding principles of the GW College Republicans? If that’s the case let us examine Coulter’s record so that we can better understand these principles.
Coulter, shortly after Sept. 11, wrote a column in which she said about Muslims, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” This is not a unique idea. It was tried 1,000 years ago when Europe invaded the Middle East during the Crusades. This medieval thinking pervades Coulter’s commentary. Her bigotry is no secret either. Reading Coulter’s most recent column provides one with ample evidence of her intolerance.
Last Friday was no exception to Coulter’s bigotry either. When one questioner began to raise her characterization of Islam as a cult, in her most recent column, she immediately corrected the questioner saying, “car-burning cult.” This led to raucous applause in the ballroom. It appears that Coulter was not the only bigot present that evening. Indeed the ballroom was packed with Republican activists who gave Coulter a standing ovation upon her arrival.
In an interview with the London Independent she began deriding Muslims generally without qualifying that she was actually referring to extremists, not all Muslims. The interviewer tried to argue the point and got nowhere. When he asked her to imagine how she would feel if she were raised Muslim, she retorts, “In that case, I would like a steak knife, please, so I can cut your throat and disembowel you. And then I shall kill all the Jews!” This is the woman who reminds the College Republicans of what their principles really are.
In the same interview she offered an insight that was tantamount to white supremacy when she discussed the situation facing the United States in the war on terror. She explains, “When we were fighting communism, OK, they had mass murderers and gulags, but they were white men and they were sane. Now we’re up against absolutely insane savages.” Perhaps the College Republicans would care to explain to the GW community why being white makes you more acceptable.
Some have written off these absurd remarks by Coulter as simply jokes or exaggeration. The assumption is that no intelligent person could actually think such things. What’s disturbing is that Coulter is highly intelligent, and when she makes these outlandish remarks she means what she says. The interviewer for the Independent had presumed, like many, that Coulter made such remarks to be amusing and to provoke people. When he asked her if this was the case, Coulter responded by saying, “This is the shocking thing for your readers, I believe everything I say.”
Before Coulter came to speak, the president of the GW Muslim Student Association e-mailed the president of the College Republicans requesting that, in light of Coulter’s record, they reconsider hosting her as a speaker. The College Republicans never responded. Apparently the concerns about hate speech directed toward our community do not merit their time.
Some will say the College Republicans should not have been allowed to bring Coulter to campus. I disagree. The GW College Republicans had every right to decide to bring Ann Coulter to GW. Even with that right, they should have exercised discretion and decided against the event. We all have the right to be racists, but that does not justify such behavior.
The College Republicans last Friday decided that their keynote address of the year should be performed by the bigot whom they proudly presented to us. So be it. If this is the face they wish to put forward then let it be so. Until an apology and qualification are forthcoming, GW students have every right to presume that this organization’s principles include racism and Islamaphobia. What else could we conclude from their decision to invite a woman with such a record and describe her as reminding them of their founding principles?
-The writer, a senior majoring in Middle East studies, is a Hatchet columnist.