Another One for the “It Can’t Happen Here” File

Another disturbing sign of the times: no one is allowed to dissent:

First Draft – More from the Mail Bag: My wife and I, both veterans of the U.S. military, found out the truth about Republican support for veterans at Ann Coulter's lecture last Tuesday. After I, a former Marine infantry sergeant, asked Coulter how she defended her promotion of the war, based on lies, which has sent 1,500 of my brothers and sisters to their deaths and 100,000 Iraqis to their graves, she responded that, “you're even stupider than I thought.” This received an abundance of applause from the party that claims to “support our troops.”

At the same moment, several Republicans hurled obscenities at my wife, a Navy veteran, and one threatened her with physical violence, stating he would kick her in the head if she didn't “shut up,” when she was asking Coulter a question.

Sound proto-fascist to you? It does to me. (But subversive performance art is not the answer.)

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12 Responses to Another One for the “It Can’t Happen Here” File

  1. Ugh says:

    Give me a break, this comes from both sides of the political aisle and has been happening for years.

  2. Bricklayer says:

    Like Ugh, I’m puzzled as well when you make postings like this. Clearly, civility has been on the decline lately in many societal contexts: the checkout line, the roadways, amongst neighbors, and of course the politcal arena.

    So I’m left wondering if you’re just taking a cheap shot at Republicans, or if becoming a law professor has made you so out of touch with the common folks that you’re unaware of the way people talk to each other nowadays. I’m not condoning the type of behavior you document, but I agree with Ugh that there is nothing unique or necessary political (fascist) about it.

    Also puzzling is your concern for the husband and wife in the story, but relative disdain and dismissal of conservative students who accuse their liberal professors of retaliating with grading in a similarly “fascist” manner, reflected in your comments about the recent Florida statute addressing the issue. I’m not implying you must support the statute to be consistent, merely that you ought to at least show some acknowledgement of an issue that hits so close to home.

  3. ant says:

    Bricklayer seems to need to look up the word “fascist” or he’d understand your use of the term and how he’s misusing it. Further, the complaints of the students on grading are largely incredible and the Florida statute being proposed is nothing but the crassest attempt at attempting to chill free discussion of issues in an academic setting. Is it somehow strange that we’d be concerned with threats of physical violence to intimidate someone asking questions of a speaker in a public setting more than we’d be concerned that someone who believes the planet is only 8,000 years old suffers when he finds out it might impair his grade in geology or biology or astronomy when he refuses to demostrate that he understands the course material doesn’t support his belief?

  4. Bricklayer says:

    Ant-
    You make a good point about violence taking things a step further than grading down a paper. However, I also think you unfoundedly trivialize the problem. It is somewhat deeper than the evolution vs. creationism debate. It can pop up in social science classes, even economics classes. I agree many of the complaints out there are probably unfounded, but many are legitimate. In any case, abusing strength/power to quiet one’s political opponents is a bad thing no matter what form it takes.

    Whatever term is used to describe the behavior originally reported on, it has at its core incivility, not an intent to supress political expression. I seriously doubt the persons who made the threats will attend democratic/liberal events and make the same threats. What happened was no different from what might happen to a yankee fan who cheers too loudly and obnoxiously at a red sox home game. When thugs start showing up at democratic events, then the professor would have rights to throw around the term “fascist”.

  5. Kaimi says:

    I’ll agree with what has been already voiced in the comments. They went to a Coulter rally, and then they criticized Coulter — umm, you’re surrounded by Coulter fans, guys. This is the functional equivalent of going to a Yankees game in a Red Sox cap. Or for that matter, posting “I love GWB” on the Atrios comment boards.

    And when the Coulter fans whose rally they were at told them to shut up (did they really find this surprising?), our narrators became offended. That falls squarely into the category of “those who actively seek to be offended will usually be successful.”

  6. ant says:

    Bricklayer–

    Trivialize? I’ve seen the complaints pumped up in the press on the ‘grading oppression’–and for the most part the complaints are deserving of ridicule and little more. They are trumped up charges to try to legitimize a ‘culture war’ side action. The thing is, some people have a hard time setting aside their notions long enough to absorb new information.

    A student takes a class. A professor has information and perspective to convey. A student is to learn the information and perspective. A student need not agree with the information, but must demonstrate that she understands it and has learned it. Take a class on WWII history and learn about the holocaust. Absorb the information. Recite it on your essay test. Challenge the professor who cites an inaccurate or dubious position. Don’t claim that “since I think the holocaust is a fabrication and my professor asks me in class to defend my position I feel oppressed” has any real world importance. The thing is for the student to learn what the class has to offer and then to think for herself having benefitted from the learning. She might learn enough to change her position, and she might learn enough to disprove the professor’s approach and change the direction of academics everywhere. Economics? Ditto. “Supply side economics work” student vs. professor who disagrees–the student has the burden of proving that student understands what the professor is trying to convey whether the student ends up agreeing or not. Social studies? Ditto. Comparative religion? Ditto. Math? Ditto. You’ll have a case for academic oppression when you show me the Calculus student failed for admitting she voted Libertarian, despite solving conic sections problems correctly as instructed. You do not have a case if a professor of international law asks the student of international law to make the case that George W. Bush is a war criminal. Either the case can be made based on the subjects studied or it can’t. If it can be made, the student must make it to receive a passing grade on the question. Does the student think that the case is weak? Fine. Make the case anyway. Next week the question on the test might be “establish a defense to these charges of war criminality.” A student of law should understand that most clearly. Defend the accused/prosecute the accused–learn to think like a lawyer. It’s the same all over; light is made of particles/light is composed of waves–make the argument.

    And look up the word ‘fascist;’ you still haven’t demonstrated that you understand the concept, which is all too common on ‘both sides of the aisle’ (as they say).

    Now, when you note that “Yankees vs. Red Sox” can lead to violence where there is no political content involved (a real-world observation, of course), are you trying to legitimize the “my team right or wrong vs. your team right or wrong” thinking being displayed by the pro-Coulter thugs (and is the person threatening kicks to the head anything but a thug?) as a healthy approach to the issue the questioner was trying to address? Either Coulter can defend her position adequately or she can’t. If she can, let the question be asked and answered. If she can’t, what value is promoted by shouting the questioner down, threatening the questioner with violence, or beating the question to death as threatened? How does one get to where one views a marine with a question on policy as being un-American enough to deserve a kick in the head instead of an answer?

    And what’s more, can you legitimately characterize Coulter’s lectures as anything better than content for a “thug-think” training manual? In her own words:
    [On how to talk to a liberal] “I think a baseball bat is the most effective way these days.” [FOX News Channel, DaySide with Linda Vester, 10/6] (apparently she thinks kicks to the head are not thuggish enough)
    “When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors.” (kicks to the head are mild comparatively, trainees!)
    “Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America’s self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant.” (liberals are traitors; traitors deserve death; liberals deserve death)
    “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (“I am often asked if I still think we should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity. The answer is: Now more than ever”) (believe in Christ like I do, or die)
    “I think, on the basis of the recent Supreme Court ruling that we can’t execute the retarded, American journalists commit mass murder without facing the ultimate penalty,” Ms. Coulter told me. “I think they are retarded. I’m trying to communicate to the American people and I have to work through a retarded person!” (journalists should be executed if they don’t say what I think they should)
    “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.” (Ann Coulter in a New York Observer interview, 8/20/2002) (logical corrallary: everyone he killed deserved to die and so did everyone in the NYT building. Implication: NYT employees are too liberall to deserve to live.)
    “My libertarian friends are probably getting a little upset now but I think that’s because they never appreciate the benefits of local fascism.”—MSNBC 2/8/97 (she knows what the word means, I presume, Bricklayer)

    We were comparing this to a professor grading papers or asking a student to answer a question in class?

    –ant

  7. pike says:

    Bricklayer:

    Ant is right–you seem to be “on the team” here and to be refusing to look at what is lying underneath. “Right or wrong” rah-rah-ism is being applied by Coulter and those cheering her on in a way that effectively justifies beating someone for questioning the rationale behind what she is saying. That’s not a far cry from thinking it right to jail people for political speech or from thinking it right to remove people from tax payer-funded meetings on SSI because of ‘No Blood For Oil’ bumper stickers. Shutting up those who disagree with the team might look like a win, but it doesn’t make the team right.

  8. marvinc says:

    “Ah…they must’ve taken some lessons from the leftists.”

    HA! The father of that kid has repeatedly been involved in false reports of violence by ‘leftists’–he’s fabricating news events. If you buy that photo/story as an example of the left going over the line, you are a sucker and dupe.

    Take note:

    “Due to the charged nature of the picture, the blogs went crazy after the photo was released on the Drudge Report and as it turns out the father, Phil Parlock, has a history of being assaulted at political protests.

    “In 1996 during a rally for Bill Clinton, Purlock marched into the event with Dole/Kemp signs and was allegedly knocked to the ground by a few fans of Bill. In 2000 at a Gore rally, Purlock had yet another girl on his shoulders holding a Bush sign and was knocked over when someone supposedly attempted to take the sign from him. To top it off, just weeks ago, while viewing the Republican National Convention, Parlock and other republicans were the victims of a drive-by shooting at the local GOP Headquarters. A West Virginia news station was there to cover the event in which a single bullet was fired at the building and, of course, Parlock was available to offer a quote.

    “Logical individuals and caring parents with such experiences at past political protests would think twice before exposing a child to the possibility of physical violence. Parlock’s decision defies logic unless you consider the possibility that . . . gasp . . . the entire thing was staged.

    “Phil Parlock appears to have a cozy relationship with, Randy Snyder, the photographer who snapped the tear inspiring photo. In March of 2003, Randy captured the majority of the Parlock family on film and at a recent Bush rally, the Parlocks were picked from a large crowd for a quote for Randy’s newspaper.

    “In addition to the above, accusations have arisen that suggest that the sign-stealing union worker within the photo is actually a member of the large Parlock family. Mr. Parlock somewhat denied the allegation in a recent interview.”
    http://www.washingtondispatch.com/spectrum/archives/000586.html

    Perhaps Parlock has taken a lesson from Joseph Goebbels. How much more is Little Green Footballs promoting the big lie tactic of fascist propaganda?

  9. ant says:

    Bricklayer, Ugh? Any reason to think Coulter’s speech is not an invitation to and justification for thuggery of the very kind we see in the quoted piece?

  10. marvinc says:

    Bricklayer seems to have his tail so far between his legs now he can’t speak.

  11. ant says:

    Well, I tried to engage him reasonably, he seemed like a reasonable guy, but I guess he hasn’t thought it through, so he can’t take the tiny heat of even polite debate. Not knowing what ‘fascism’ means seems to be only one of his troubles here. All he seems to want to say about the fascists (comparing both threads) is that he’s sorry, or maybe just a little disappointed, that the fascists were so ‘uncivil’ in responding to the veterans–but that the veterans shouldn’t expect much better treatment anyway because they were somehow obnoxious by daring to ask Coulter a question during Coulter’s ‘get up and ask Coulter a question’ period.

    He also seems to be saying that it’s a serious problem that ‘liberal’ professors may have little respect for opinions they think are wrong, and for that reason he supports idiotic efforts like the Florida bill to allow the student who is asked a question to sue the professor for doing so. That approach is the epitome of the characterization “Mallard Fillmore” makes of whiny liberals–you hurt my feelings by asking me to explain what I meant to say, so you owe me money, you mean man.” Sheesh.

    One can only hope that a ‘liberal’ professor of his can Socratic method him into thinking these things through before he pipes up.

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