Rarely does a letter in a newspaper cut to the quick as well as one that appeared in today's Arizona Republic (particularly the paragraph just before the end). The writer was responding to a letter earlier in the week in which another writer was attempting to excuse the inexcusable Ann Coulter by comparing her to famed eighteenth century satirist Jonathan Swift. The writer writes here (the link should be, based on past experiences with the Republic, good for about a week, so I will cut and paste the entire letter).
Regarding "Coulter's satire goes unrecognized" (Letters, Sunday):
The letter writer chides syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts for his "ignorance" in "failing to recognize (Ann) Coulter as a satirist, in the mode of Jonathan Swift." Oh? Let us compare and contrast:
Swift is perhaps the finest of all satirists for his deft touch in the use of playfulness and fairy tale to devastating effect (Gulliver's Travels). The irony of A Modest Proposal has seldom been equaled, and is timeless.
Ann Coulter, on the other hand, is beyond shrill, and would never allow nuance or indirection to get in the way of a blunt, even crude, frontal assault ad hominid. Satire is the humor of Swift, never Coulter's unrelieved fury; it is Swift's understatement, never Coulter's bombast.
Largely unnoticed, moreover, is Coulter's propensity for missing her own point. She has lately been on tour to explain her grotesque attack upon the four "9/11 widows" for certain of their political positions. What infuriates Coulter is that these "broads," as she calls them, are in her opinion using their personal tragedies to shield themselves from rebuttal. But here, in one of her many failings, Coulter confuses the message with the messenger.
Rebuttal on the merits of the message - where it belongs - is never out of bounds. Coulter's nature, however, is to claw at the widows personally, and she does so in the only way she knows how, by demeaning the tragedy of 9/11 itself.
No, in Ann Coulter there is nothing in the least Swiftian.
-Robert R. Anderson.
Good for you, Mr. Anderson. I've never met you but if I ever do I'll be sure to thank you personally for writing such a good letter.
That next to last paragraph highlights the quandry of the right. No one has suggested that there is anything wrong with rebutting anything that the 9/11 widows (or others who have spoken out against Bush policy after suffering personal tragedy) say. For example if one of the 9/11 widows (or Cindy Sheehan, or Mary Tillman, or whoever else) quotes a statistic, anyone is welcome to dispute it, challenge it or rebut it with appropriate data. Coulter's frustration (and the frustration on the part of many on the right) is a product of the fact that it is difficult to find a way to attack people like this personally. Personal smears have long been a staple of the right wing attack machine, and Coulter stands out as one who simply is incapable of debating any other way. To ask her to seriously debate issues without resorting to some sort of personal attack is like asking Jay Leno to deliver his monologue without telling any jokes, or asking Mark Cuban not to talk about basketball. Coulter just isn't capable of debating issues seriously, so she has to resort to personal attacks. Maybe the 9/11 widows or the others will force her to actually consider how to debate issues on the issues (or at least expose how vacuous she is, once you take away her attack bludgeon).