Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ann Coulter: "Civil Rights are (only) for Blacks"

By Nathan Rothwell

Conservative darling Ann Coulter, who I can’t believe is still allowed on TV, made remarks this morning that hopefully disqualify her from future public appearances.

(h/t to C&L's Videocafe for the video)

Appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to promote her latest book in a 75,869-part series that blames liberalism for any and all of America’s woes, Coulter claimed that gay people, women, and immigrants have “commandeered” the “civil rights experience” in America. 

When Stephanopoulos pressed her on the matter, the following exchange actually, and almost unbelievably, took place:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Immigrant rights are not civil rights?
COULTER: Umm…  [pause] No. I think civil rights are for blacks.

Coulter’s remarks were part of a discussion of the Republican and Democratic parties’ attempts to earn the Hispanic vote. President Obama leads Republican challenger Mitt Romney 70% to only 22% according to Latino polling group Latino Decisions, while a more recent poll conducted by Fox News Latino gives Obama a 60% lead to Romney’s 30%. No matter whom you believe, Romney is still doing worse than John McCain (31%) in 2008, and George W. Bush (44%) in 2004.

While Coulter is not an elected Republican official or official Romney campaign spokesperson, comments she made several weeks ago paint the picture that she’s trying very, very hard to influence his campaign with her own ideas. So while I have a hard time believing Mitt Romney wants any part of Coulter’s “civil rights are only for blacks” comment, I’m happy to hold her to the standard of Romney spokesperson, since she seems to fancy herself one.

There are two major problems with Team Romney’s Coulter’s statement. The first, obviously, is that civil rights aren’t just for African-Americans – they’re for everyone.

Just before she made her outrageous statement, Coulter suggested that the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s fought solely for the rights of African Americans, and our society only owes them those civil rights as payback for the brutal and tragic legacy of slavery in the United States.

I won’t bore you with the dictionary definition (unless you’re into that), but there are precisely zero true students of history who would agree with Coulter’s painfully inaccurate account of events. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, perhaps the most important event of the Civil Rights movement, wasn’t some form of “reparations” aimed only at African-Americans; it was a promise from the federal government that people would no longer be unfairly discriminated against on the basis of race, color, gender, or national origin. So yes, Ms. Coulter, the legislation very plainly tells us that immigrants and women are entitled to civil rights in this country. As are everyone else.

The second problem lies in how Coulter’s statement is a shining example of Romney’s inability to connect with voters who aren’t white, non-Hispanic males. Wonder why the Republican ticket can’t seem to attract Latino voters? Maybe it’s because the initial debates saw one of the candidates openly pine for an electrified fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, and not a single other candidate publicly denounced his disgusting idea.

Wonder why Romney is currently polling just 37% with women? Maybe it’s because they think equal pay for equal work is a civil right, as is the freedom to have full control of their own bodies. Or maybe it’s because conservatives like Coulter dismiss these issues as women “commandeering” the civil rights movement to serve their own interests, but cry foul when their definition of “religious liberty” does not include the right to impose their sexual and moral beliefs on society at large.

Yet for some reason, Republicans just won’t allow themselves to admit these simple truths. Again, while Coulter is only an unofficial Romney spokesperson, her comments are all too similar to those made recently by Romney himself, in which he threw 47% of the country under the bus. Rather than taking the time to carefully examine exactly why the Republican platform fails to strike a chord with lower income voters, Romney dismisses every single one of them as people who consider themselves “victims” and “dependent upon government” to the point that a Republican ticket should waste no time attempting to court their votes.  And hot on his heels, Coulter makes the argument that women and immigrants deserve no civil rights, and these issues should be of little import to the GOP.

For all his decrying of President Obama for being  so “divisive,” it makes no sense for Romney to base his campaign strategy on dividing the country into half open-minded voters, half mindless Obama-zombies. And Coulter did him no favors today by making his campaign all the less palatable to women and Latino Americans.

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