Today is Purim, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the foiling of Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jews of Ancient Persia. It is a joyful, boisterous holiday, with people dressing up in costume and lots of eating and revelry. As with all Jewish holidays, the festivities begin at sundown the night before. Last night Kendall, Leah, and I attended the Purim celebration at our synagogue, BCC, which happens to be the oldest gay and lesbian temple in the world. Our rabbi, Lisa Edwards, was dressed up as a dead-on Edward Scissorhands, and her costume was so realistic that some of the younger children in the congregation burst into tears at the sight of her. Leah went as a gypsy girl and reminded me of red-haired Maureen O’Hara’s character in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” As she ran around the shul with the other kids, she kept peeling off layers of her colorful scarves until she resembled Salome doing her Dance of the Seven Veils. I came as a Rastafarian, complete with long dreadlocks but minus the ganja.
The main activity at a Purim service is the reading of the Megillah which tells the story of the holiday as recounted in the Book of Esther. The Megillah reveals how King Ahashveros of Persia (also known as Xerxes I), after dumping his uppity wife Vashti, chose a beautiful new queen named Esther, unaware that she was Jewish. His evil prime minister, a wealthy and corrupt man named Haman, was insulted when Esther’s cousin Mordecai would not bow down to him. He convinced the king to kill all of the Jews in Persia but Esther and Mordecai manage to reverse their people's fortunes and send Haman to the gallows instead. At BCC, each chapter of the Megillah is read by a congregant in a different language. We had everything from Arabic, French, Italian, and German to Mandarin, Ugandan, American Sign Language, Pig Latin, and even Klingon! A fun time was had by all and, following tradition, each time the name Haman was uttered, everyone in the synagogue would shout “Boo!” and use their noisemakers to curse his soul.
I’ve felt a similar compulsion this weekend every time I’ve heard Ann Coulter’s name mentioned. On Friday, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Coulter was introduced by Republican Milt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, who has recently thrown his hat into the presidential ring. Coulter reviewed the current candidates, pronounced Romney the best choice for president, and then concluded with this pearl:
“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I’m kind of at an impasse, I can’t really talk about Edwards.”
You can watch it for yourself if you can stomach it:
Did you catch that smirk? Ann Coulter reminds me of those privileged but mean sorority girls who take pleasure in tormenting pledges who come from different backgrounds or aren’t pretty or popular or blond enough. Coulter hides behind a “hey, I’m just kidding!” façade but she is neither witty nor funny, just a bully in the playground whose main philosophy in life seems to be “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Her reference to rehab is about actor Isaiah Washington’s recent stint after news broke of him using the new “F-word” on the set of “Grey’s Anatomy” to refer to another actor on the show who subsequently came out as gay. Yet compared to Coulter, Washington seems about as homophobic as Harvey Fierstein.
Now Romney is trying to distance himself from the mini-dress wearing commentator. I don’t buy any of the conservative pundits’ shock over Coulter’s latest episode. Minutes before her remark, Governor Romney was praising Ann Coulter to the skies. It’s not like this is Coulter’s first foray into the gutter. She caused a national furor last year when she criticized the families who lost loved ones on 9/11. In her book “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” published in June 2006, she spewed:
“These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis... These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them... I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”
Hideous. Coulter clearly loves her gig as national provocateuse and seems to get off on saying the most vile things she can think of. Many of her defenders say that they admire her because she says what “everybody else is thinking but afraid to say.” Really? It actually never occurred to me to cruelly taunt the widows of 9/11 or, as she did during a question-and-answer session following a speech at Indiana University last year, to call a student who disagreed with her “gay boy.”
Coulter seems to especially delight in demonstrating her gift of gaydar. In the past she has declared that Bill Clinton probably had latent homosexual tendencies but that Al Gore was “a total fag.” And now Edwards is a “faggot.” I admit that I am shocked to hear these words come out of anyone’s mouth today, especially when speaking in front of an allegedly serious political forum. Ann Coulter is consistently paid big bucks to speak at these events even though many conservatives claim she is an embarrassment and not taken seriously. But Friday’s outburst at CPAC was nothing new. I hate to repeat her invective but here is a small sampling of Coulter’s greatest hits on other subjects:
“The Democrats are giving aid and comfort to the enemy for no purpose other than giving aid and comfort to the enemy. There is no plausible explanation for the Democrats’ behavior other than that they long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated, and driven from the field of battle. They fill the airwaves with treason, but when called to vote on withdrawing troops, disavow their own public statements. These people are not only traitors, they are gutless traitors.” (column by Ann Coulter, November 23, 2005)
“God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.’” (appearance on Fox News, June 20, 2001)
“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (speech by Ann Coulter, September 12, 2001)
Fox TV News Host: “You say you’d rather not talk to liberals?”
Ann Coulter: “I think a baseball bat is the most effective way these days.”
On The New York Times:
“My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is that he did not go to the New York Times Building.” (August 26, 2002)
When asked the following year whether she regretted making that remark, she said:
“Of course I regret it. I should have added ‘after everyone had left the building except the editors and the reporters.’”
“I think women should be armed but should not vote...women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it...it's always more money on education, more money on child care, more money on day care.” (on Comedy Central’s “Politically Incorrect,” February 26, 2001)
Ugh, I can’t take any more, can you? I love how whenever Coulter’s statements are criticized, her admirers start screaming about her First Amendment rights. Um, excuse me, but no one is suggesting that Ann Coulter be placed in a concentration camp for her idiotic views. She has every right to espouse them but the First Amendment works both ways. She can sling her hateful rhetoric, and people who take issue with it can openly condemn her comments. Oh, and by the way, here’s what Coulter said on the subject during a speech at the University of Florida in 2005:
“They’re [Democrats] always accusing us of repressing their speech. I say let’s do it. Let’s repress them. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of the First Amendment.”
She regularly calls Muslims “ragheads,” advocates for violence against people with whom she disagrees, and foams at the mouth any time Bill Clinton’s name is brought up. A former lawyer, Coulter was on Paula Jones’ legal team, her springboard to national prominence and a series of best-selling books.
If Coulter were transported back to Ancient Persia, I’ve no doubt she’d call Queen Esther a traitor to her king and country, imply that Mordecai was just a purple-robe wearing fag, and proclaim Haman to be a hero and patriot. I’m not accusing Coulter of masterminding any murderous plots, but she certainly has antagonized American Jews on more than one occasion by saying how gullible and stupid they are to accept the pandering of Democratic politicians who trump up fake Jewish ancestors to nail the Jew vote.
And what’s with the Edwards comment, anyway? Is she actually saying that she thinks John Edwards is a homosexual? Apparently, if that were the case (and it sure doesn’t seem to be), Coulter believes that a gay presidential candidate would be a horrific thing. Or is she just making some kind of statement about what she perceives as Edwards’ effeminate traits? Oh, that will never do, we’ve got to have a “real man” in that office, right, Ann? Let’s see, who can we ask? Is Genghis Kahn available by any chance? Oh wait, that wouldn’t work, he’s just a stupid gook. Maybe former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has the goods? Oh, sorry, Ann, that spic wouldn’t do either, it’s got to be a real American he-man like your draft-dodging hero, George W. Bush.
I feel sick to my stomach but I can’t tell if it’s because of Ann Coulter or the two poppyseed hamantaschen I just wolfed down.
Coulter claims to be a devout Christian and believes that she is a crusader defending the Christian values she holds so dear. Yes, and I believe that I am the lovely Esther, Queen of Persia.