If you happen to see me on the street and notice a dazed, confused expression on my face, it will be my astonishment about why Ann Coulter's comments about some widows of 9/11 victims became front-page news last week.
In her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, Coulter referred to the widows as "witches" and "harpies." She added that "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."
Editors of the New York Daily News thought Coulter's opining was worthy of a cover story. There has been a flurry of comments from columnists and opinion writers since, talking about how vicious and malicious Coulter is. As if Coulter is the only vicious or malicious commentator on the scene. Or as if she's the worst one.
Anyone remember Julianne Malveaux's comments about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas back in 1994? Malveaux, an author, economist and columnist, had this to say about Thomas on a radio show:
"I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. He is an absolutely reprehensible person."
Or how about the same Malveaux on Linda Tripp, the woman who got former White House intern Monica Lewinsky to reveal her affair with former President Bill Clinton?
"Anything that Linda Tripp says I think you have to look through the filter of a ugly stick she's been beaten with."
While the comment about Tripp might not be as vicious or malicious as Coulter's comments about the widows, Malveaux's comments about Thomas certainly are. Wishing death on anyone just because he or she holds a political opinion at odds with your own is so, so -- well, so Josef Stalin.
But you may have noticed that Malveaux's comments about Thomas didn't evoke the news furor Coulter's recent comments have. Black conservatives have been easy pickings for liberal commentators for quite a while, with Thomas being the favorite target. Here's a sample:
Film director Spike Lee on Thomas: "Malcolm X, if he were alive today, would call Thomas a handkerchief head, a chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom." (Note to Spike: Malcolm called other black leaders of his day Uncle Toms, or implied they were. Among them were the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins and A. Philip Randolph.)
Poet, playwright and essayist Amiri Baraka called Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, then national security adviser, a "skeeza," to the cheers and delight of an audience gathered at Coppin State University three years ago.
Can we ever forget Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller calling Lt. Gov. Michael Steele an Uncle Tom in 2001? Miller later apologized, claiming he never actually used the words "Uncle Tom" and that his remarks were taken out of context. But some folks think Steele should still have done an "Austin 3:16" (loose translation: to perform a nose job with knuckles) on Miller.
In late 2005, a black liberal blogger in New York depicted Steele in minstrel makeup.
Again, none of these rise to the level of Coulter's recent remarks. But New York Rep. Charles Rangel's comparison of President Bush to Bull Connor does. Here, from The National Review, is Rangel's full quote in all its idiotic glory:
"George Bush is our Bull Connor. If you're black and poor in this country, it's not an inconvenience. It's a death sentence."
Rangel was talking about Bush's response to poor blacks trapped in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Rangel was actually right in his last sentence, but not in the way he intended. A recent Time magazine story noted that those po' black folks Rangel loves so dearly -- and whom he feels Bush failed so miserably -- were dying in New Orleans long before Katrina struck. They were being killed by black criminals like Ivory "B-Stupid" Harris (appropriately named) who was highlighted in the Time story.
You didn't hear a peep from Rangel -- or any other black misleader -- about the carnage the "B-Stupid" Harrises of New Orleans were committing against poor black folks before the hurricane.
And you may not have read about Rangel's "Bush as Bull Connor" comments either. A LexisNexis search reveals only 18 articles about the matter since September. Both the conservative National Review and the liberal New Republic sternly rebuked Rangel for the remark.
A LexisNexis search reveals 79 articles in one week about Coulter's widow remarks. The outrage against Coulter is justified and understandable. Demonizing widows for their political views is exactly what it's been called: vicious and malicious.
So is comparing a president to a racist public safety commissioner who used high-pressure water hoses and police dogs against peaceful black demonstrators in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963.
When Coulter is wrong, she's egregiously wrong. But when she's right -- as she was when she ripped to shreds the oft-repeated claim that Republicans "stole" the 2000 presidential election -- she's very right.
The knock on Coulter isn't that she's either vicious or malicious. It's that she's better at it than liberals and Democrats.