Kevin Powwell`s blog

@AnnCoulter: An Un-American and Very Dangerous Mind

Very sad and tragic that some people will do virtually anything to be famous, and practically anything to sell a book, even if it means spewing hatred, division, and manufactured lies and half-truths just to get a rep, as the late rapper Guru once rhymed.

Case in point is Ms. Ann Coulter, the right-wing political commentator, syndicated columnist, and omnipresent media personality whose new book, “Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama,” is so bad, so poorly written, so drenched in shameless historical revisionism that one has got to wonder if she, Ms. Coulter, believes anything she has put on paper.

In this her eighth book Ms. Coulter’s itchy trigger finger takes aim at those dreaded White liberals who’ve made big power plays off the backs of us poor and misguided African Americans. Colored folks, mind you, who do not comprehend that our Civil Rights Movement has been pimped by said liberals, and unfairly expanded to include, among others, women, immigrants, and gay people. What Ms. Coulter refuses to grasp is that while the Civil Rights Movement definitely was kickstarted and propelled by Blacks, it was to make the entire American democracy experiment better for all. So little wonder that, say, women, the LGBT community, persons with disabilities, environmentalists, and immigrants have cited and continue to cite the Civil Rights era as a tremendous galvanizing force for their own movements. In other words, none of us live in a bubble, each and everyone is interconnected, whether we like, admit, or acknowledge that fact or not, so it is nearsighted and inhuman to pretend as if we do not shape and influence each other’s lives.

Ms. Coulter goes a step further, in her book and on her endless publicity tour, to paint Republicans, “the party of Abraham Lincoln,” as the real protectors of the rights of Black people, and Democrats as the ones who not only did not support Civil Rights in America historically, but who have created the racial stand-off in our country. Divisions, mind you, stirred by the numerous Democratic-initiated “welfare” programs we Blacks have become depended on. And divisions stirred by these liberals, these Democrats, whenever they need to point fingers at Republicans, especially when it comes to racial problems, real or imagined.

However, this is nothing new. I came of age during the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, as a teenager, as a college student, and I watched right-wingers, politicians and pundits alike, meticulously produce a game-plan to pit Americans against each other: liberals versus conservatives, Whites versus Blacks, people of color versus White people, straight people versus gay people, the poor and middle class versus the wealthy, American citizens versus immigrants, you against me, us against them, and America versus the entire world….

Rather than discuss and champion a United States where we can bring people together, in spite of our differences, and deal with the hardcore issues of everyday Americans, these right-wing activists hustle and flow in the red zone of divide and conquer. As long as we who share this land are at each other’s throats, they continue to wield power. A kind of power that controls the direction of national conversations: which ones we have and do not have, and how and why, in our America.

Take, for example, my very recent “debate” with Ms. Coulter on the Current TV program “Joy Behar: Say Anything!” It was neither a discussion nor a very productive and solution-oriented dialogue, as you can see here:

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Instead, Ms. Coulter did what she always does: she makes up “facts” as she goes along, she talks at the level of a rebel yell with no ability nor care whatsoever for listening to others, and when challenged and called out for who she is—a racist peddling books for a buck—she resorts to attack mode because I dared to speak to her as she habitually does to others. I have watched Ms. Coulter on panels and debates long enough to know if I did not jump in and meet her at her level I would have never gotten a word in edge-wise. Because, for her, this is not about educating and uplifting people. It is about entertainment and the media circus that documents her rants ad nauseam. Ms. Coulter was visibly shaking on the set next to me with raw anger and refused to shake my extended hand when I was leaving. This is an immature schoolyard mentality, yet I have witnessed young people behave more rationally and speak far more logically about serious social matters.

That is because individuals like Ms. Coulter are neither intellectually equipped nor emotionally or spiritually-grounded enough to engage in sincere and honest dialogue about the huge challenges of our times. Ms. Coulter claims to be a Christian and I do not doubt her belief in God and Jesus Christ. But the God I as a Christian worship is about love and understanding, not hate-mongering and people-bashing. God is about kindness and grace, not mean-spiritedness and a reckless disregard for the feelings of other human beings. Clearly love, understanding, kindness, and grace are not prime preoccupations for Ms. Coulter. Right-wingers like her are strictly about book sales, media ratings, sensationalistic shock value, and pissing people off and keeping people separated and in perpetual states of paranoia, rage, and mistrust.

That, to me, makes Ann Coulter and so-called thinkers like her very un-American, very dangerous, and the exact opposite of E pluribus unum, the seal of our United States which translates, in Latin, as “one from many.” But ultra-conservative activists do not think in terms of “we.” It is “I,” and there is the conundrum.

That certainly explains why every single time I either appear with a right-winger on radio or tv, or write a blog discussing an issue from my perspective, a barrage of offensive and hateful tweets and emails flood my inboxes, like this one from someone on Twitter a moment ago:

“kevin_powell You’re one racist nigger hell bent on keeping racism alive in America. Someone should drag you under a truck 12 city blocks!”

I’ve received so many threats and disses through the years that I’ve become immune to them. But of course the great irony, above, is in one breath this gentleman calls me both a racist and a nigger. Too damaged emotionally to get he is doing what he is accusing me of. Furthermore, given the community work I have done for nearly 30 years, in nearly all 50 American states and globally, how many workshops and trainings I have led or participated in that have been about bringing people together regardless of their race, culture, or ethnicity, and how extensively I have written on diversity and cooperation between different groups, it is abundantly clear to me that many people in our great nation simply do not read, listen, or bother to do basic research via Google.

Put another way, hatred and ignorance are so ingrained in the minds of some, logic flies out the window and you have to wonder if some actually realize what they are saying as they hide behind fake names and fake photos on the social networks, uttering the most disdainful things to those either different from them or whose views they detest so profoundly. Additionally, you begin to wonder if some of these folks are so wired with knee-jerk reactions that they cannot see that the most divisive forces in America’s conservative movement do not even care about them, regular everyday Americans doing their best to make ends meet.

Thus what we are left with is an American climate so bullet-ridden with hatred that you pray to God (at least I do) that the sort of assassination attempt that happened to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords does not spread, like a vicious virus, because some of the more mentally and spiritually unstable amongst us have decided to match the hyper-aggressive and violent rhetoric with violent action.

That is why an Ann Coulter is so very dangerous. She and right-wingers like her do not genuinely care about working class and middle class White Americans who’ve been so deeply affected by our tough economic times any more than they care about Blacks, Latinos, Asians, or immigrants of any background. What she and her peers care about is money, power, fame, privilege, and manipulating the masses. For sure, they scream, “we are taking our country back” for a reason. But I sure do wonder how Native Americans feel about that one dropping from the puffed out lips of these particular kinds of folks given they are the original owners of this land? But these ultra-conservatives do not care what anyone thinks because they do not really care about us. What they care about is blowing wind, very hard, onto the burning fires of alienation, disillusionment, fear, and anger, and creating moving, breathing targets that would otherwise be allies. After all are not most Americans struggling financially regardless of our background? Do not most Americans want access to better public schools, better jobs, small business opportunities, basic healthcare, and a decent and affordable place to live?

Racism wins, White, Black, Brown, Yellow, and Red people, when we permit someone from outside our neighborhood-community-environment-reality to dictate to us who we should and should not like, who we should and should not trust, based on ancient fears and divisions created back in the day to keep human beings separated and under the thumb of the powerful. Nothing wrong with power if it is used for good, used to bring people together, to uplift and motivate people. If that power is born from love. But if it is not, my God….

And that is why it is such hogwash for Republicans to continue to say they are the party of Abraham Lincoln. First of all, Republicans like Ann Coulter are not; Lincoln was trying to save the Union, not burn it to the ground with hateful rhetoric. Second, even Old Abe had serious issues around race and flip-flopped quite a few times, publicly and privately, around ending slavery, so it is a bold-faced lie to continue to perpetuate the myth that Lincoln was that clear-cut in his vision around African Americans and slavery. He was not.

But, to be fair, of course I will acknowledge and honor what Lincoln and other Republicans did on behalf of civil rights, on up to President Dwight Eisenhower during the Little Rock 9 school integration battle in the late 1950s, and President Nixon’s support for Affirmative Action initiatives during his first term. But, by and large, the Republican Party of yesteryear is not the Republican Party since the Nixon era (Black folks who know will never forget how Nixon’s law-and-order tactics shut down, literally, the last vestiges of the Civil Rights Movement, for example), and if we are going to be honest, we must be honest about that. I do not think even Mitt Romney’s dad, nor Abraham Lincoln, for that matter, would survive in the 21st century version of the Republican Party. Not with the fire-breathing fury of the Tea Party and Ann Coulter out there stage far right.

And to imply or outright say that Democrats, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson, did close to nothing is another bold-faced lie. And a double lie to suggest that Blacks have no criticisms whatsoever of the Democratic Party, of President Barack Obama, when we do, and it is stated very visibly, and very often, in blogs, on the social networks every single day. You just have to look, and read. Blacks, to be brutally honest, have stuck by the Dems because it is, one, the lesser of two evils as I have heard more than a few elected Black Democrats say themselves. And second because at least the Dems make an effort to be inclusive. Republicans, meanwhile, are ridiculously pathetic in that regard.

Finally, it needs to be stated that Black folks have been in America far too long to think either party represents our empowerment or salvation. We have been both Republicans and Democrats in our American journey and, not for nothing, we have always been a group who knew we had to do some things for ourselves no matter who is representing us at any given moment. Yes my mother and I needed welfare at one point, and yes I got help going to college, but to suggest that Black people have done nothing more than look for handouts from the government is not merely a lie, but a great disrespect to who we are historically and culturally in the context of America. As a matter, my life work of public service is partially because I feel so blessed to have gotten help when I was growing up in poverty. So I cannot imagine not helping others to succeed, too.

Beyond the above, most Black Americans don’t have the time or energy to debate who are the good White folks and who are the bad White folks. We do not even think like that. Our challenge is historical and present-day racism, whether it comes from a White liberal or a White conservative, and God knows we’ve gotten it from both sides, equally. But do the vast majority of Black people hate or blame White folks for everything? No, not even close. I know. I am Black, and I am in Black circles all the time, all across America. So racism even lifts its ugly head when certain White Americans believe that Black people are somehow so obsessed with race, with racism, with playing the so-called race card that we just sit around discussing them all the time. That is funny, at best.

So it is abundantly clear from Ms. Coulter’s writings, my “debate” with her, and her many appearances around this book that she has never lived with nor around vast and diverse groups of Black people for any extended period ever, has never studied Black history on any high level, ever, and does not get that it is even inherently racist, as a White person of privilege, which she is, to assume you can speak for an entire race of people on a movement and matter so central to their existence and sojourn in America. I would never do that to my White sisters and brothers, or my Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Jewish, Arab, or Native American sisters and brothers, and I do not want anyone doing that to and for me. The path to racial and cultural harmony in America has to be based in the respect for any people to tell their own stories, on their own terms, with my voice equal to yours and yours to mine.

My problem with the Ann Coulters of the world is that there is no real critique of the system of racism, just flash moments to prove some twisted point that suit their immediate agenda. When I attempted to raise to Ms. Coulter the issue of stop and frisk in New York City, she was dismissive. As if the lives of Black and Latino young males are so tragically worthless that our getting stopped by the police more than any other demographic in New York, in America, is somehow insignificant. That is when you know this person could care less about anyone except herself and her bank account. And maintaining a status quo run by ultra-conservative old school wealthy White males who are so terrified of the multicultural America that sits upon their doorstep, with a hiphop soundtrack bursting from its loins, that they will do and say anything to stop the hands of time. That means voter I.D. laws. That means propping up a mediocre presidential candidate like Mitt Romney. That means making sure an Ann Coulter will always have a platform and always be a New York Times bestselling author even if her books are as dangerous and disposable as the worst fast food.

Finally, I always find it interesting when people say they do not agree with my politics, as Ann Coulter’s supporters have done nonstop since our Current TV debate. My politics are real simple at this stage in my life: I believe in love, nonviolence, peace, and truth-telling, even when it makes some uncomfortable. Only way the world ever changes is for us to confront lies, untruths, oppression, and the marginalization of any and all people. We are in this together. I really believe that. Sad and tragic some people truly believe, in the darkness of their souls, it is us against them. We have a choice in life: be bridge-builders or be bridge-destroyers. Folks who are bridge-destroyers are also known as racists, sexists, homophobes, religious bigots, anti-Semites, haters of persons with disabilities, and classists. Bridge-builders are also known as human beings. Better to be human than to be inhuman. For the good of yourself, for the good of us all.

Kevin Powell is a long-time community and political activist, a nationally-acclaimed public speaker, and an award-winning writer. Kevin is also the author or editor of 11 books, including his newest title, “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays.” Learn more about Kevin’s work at www.kevinpowell.net/about.php, or follow him on twitter @kevin_powell

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14 Responses to “@AnnCoulter: An Un-American and Very Dangerous Mind”

  1. David Smith says:

    Kevin, your words speak truth. Ann and others have done a disservice and they profit form Americans ignorance. My clients here in Atlanta, come to see me as their Life Coach and each one is dealing with sexism, gender bias, racism, it is so much to deal with on a given day. I will use your work as a shining light.

  2. Allyson Watson says:

    Kevin Powell is the perfect person called to stand up with dignity, knowledge, and the ability to perpetuate this generation of leaders in to positive change. Shame on those like Ann Coulter who think they can act as bully’s in their writing and speaking and not realize that WE have the intellectual capacity and personal strength to peacefully retaliate. We learned this strength from our ancestors and see it in the lives of individuals like Mr. Powell. Keep standing, elevating, educating, inspiring and motivating brother…you have each of us to stand with you.
    All the best,
    Allyson

  3. Kirsten says:

    I watched Ann try and defend her writing on The View last week and it was obvious to me and the women on the panel that this woman is simply writing these half and non-truths just to gain attention! It’s unfortunate that there are people out there who will fall for writings like Ms. Coulter’s without any question to the validity of the writings and knowing this, she panders to them. Thankfully, there are people like yourself, who tirelessly work to tell the truth and expose her words as the nonsense. Kudos!

  4. Chance says:

    Hello Kevin:

    I enjoyed your article and admire your courage to maintain your humanity in the face of such hatred and destruction in your society. In your exchange with Ann Coulter, she was very uncomfortable because she knew she was sitting next to someone who would call her out the division and hatred she talks about in her books. She also knew she was next to someone who was not afraid of her or the power structure in America. THAT was why she disrespected you. She could have had a civil conversation, even a debate, about her ideas vs. yours. But she couldn’t do that because she knew she was sitting next to someone who had actually lived and worked in the communities she was talking about. She knew she was sitting next to someone who had a firm grasp of American history (as evident in your many books) both the constructive and destructive actions and events of America. In a very real sense, she knew she was outmatched. She was sitting there realizing that she had just written a book about a subject, that in reality, she knew very little about. So, her only alternative was to turn it into a spectacle, hoping you would get on the defensive when she for example, called you a “child pornographer”. But you did not get distracted with a statement that has absolutely no factual basis. If you play back the video, everyone clearly sees and hears you say simply, “disrespectful” – highlighting for her, Joy and the viewers just the type of person she is.

    Thank you for maintaining your composure in that moment – many would have lost it! I am sure that was what she was hoping for. But a person who is confident in their views can discuss any topic in a calm manner. On the other hand, a person that has to disrespect others and get defensive are usually not comfortable with their position. For example, when you called her a racist, based on statements she made in her book – if she felt she was not a racist she could have had a civil conversation about why she is not racist. As none of us are perfect, perhaps she could have simply said, “I don’t believe I am racist. Nor do I think there is anything in my book that is racist. So, Kevin, please point out where in my book I illustrate racism.” She, of course, didn’t respond that way. Everyone can watch the video to see how she responded. She got defensive. She was not interested in dialogue and debate, only argument.

    What she, and others who share her perspective, must realize is that many of the ideas they have about America are fantasy. These ideas are not based in truth – or at least not the whole truth. For example, there are many on the Right who glorify the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1787) – Mitt Romney referred to it in his recent debate with President Obama. When asked during the debate to give his thoughts on the role of government he said: “The role of government – look behind us: the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The role of government is to promote the principles of those documents. First, life and liberty. We have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberty of our people…”

    But what he and others don’t highlight is that both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written and signed during slavery. They don’t highlight that the Constitution has 27 amendments. Amendments, by their very definition, mean “not perfect” – that there are things that need to be added to make it “more perfect”.

    They don’t highlight the 13th Amendment (dealing with Slavery and Involuntary Servitude (1865), or the 14th Amendment (dealing with Civil Rights (1868)) or the 15th Amendment (dealing with the rights of Blacks to vote (1870) – which as everyone knows was completely ignored by the States thus taking until 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 before Black people were ACTUALLY considered full citizens of the United States of America). And let’s not forget the 19th Amendment (1920) which gave Women the Right to vote. Yes, that’s right, from the signing of the Constitution in 1787 to 1920 all women could NOT vote in the United States of America. It is also important to note that Amendments giving women the right to vote were introduced in Congress one after another for more than 40 years before this one in 1920 was finally passed. 

    So, if we are going to talk about history and principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, let’s talk about it. Don’t just focus on the parts of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution that make you feel good. Tell the complete story. To do so is respectful to both White people (for example, Abolishonists and White Civil Rights workers) and Black people who worked and sacrificed to make America better from its founding.

    Kevin, I thank you for efforts and your writing and speaking about American history. And your courage to speak truth to power. You, like Malcolm X, understand that you did not start racism or oppression in America. You were born into it. But given that fact, you, like Malcolm, have the courage to stand up to it and demand that you, like any other human being, should be treated with respect. Your Friend, Chance

  5. CG says:

    “Not only do you dehumanize the person you are referring to, you dehumanize yourself”. Exactly Kevin and that is what you were doing when you continued calling Ann a racist. I bring this to your attention on FB and you erase my posts. It’s your page and of course you can do that. However, it appears you can dish but you can’t take.

  6. Jerry W. Ward, Jr. says:

    Kevin, your Alpha Phi Alpha brothers salute you for transcending all [the haters]and for bringing moral dimensions to the ongoing discourses about the United States.

  7. Marinieves says:

    Truth-telling, integrity and humanity will never be popular in this country’s current climate, or among the Ann Coulters of the world, but you stood your ground. Thank you.

  8. Malcom says:

    NICE PARLAY OF YOUR “REAL WORLD” KEVIN…..NOT! I GUESS EVERYONE IS A RACIST THAT THINKS OJ IS GUILTY? AS I REMEMBER YOUR “BLACKNESS” WOULDNT LET YOU BELIEVE OJ WAS GUILTY…..YOU ARE A DOUBLE TALKING HYPOCRITE RACIST!!!SHAME ON YOU FOR BEING PART OF THIS COUNTRIES DIVISION PROBLEM!

  9. Malcom says:

    Wow, you lemmings need to stop drinkin the Kool-aid!
    ATTENTION! WHEN YOU GO TO THE “HATE” AND “RACE” CARD JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE (FOR GOOD AND PAINFULLY OBVIOUS REASONS)BECAUSE THEY DONT SUPPORT OBAMA, YOU THROW YOUR OWN CREDIBILITY RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW!!! THIS COUNTRY HAS NEVER BEEN MORE DIVIDED THAN IT IS NOW THANKS TO YOUR PANDERER AND CHIEF BARRY OBAMA…..HOPE? NONE CHANGE? YEAH HE TOOK THE MESS THAT GW BUSH LEFT LIT ON FIRE AND GAVE A LIL BIT TO EVERYONE :(

    • Ray says:

      The funny thing is that h hasn’t said much about Obama or anything against Romney as far as I remember. He criticized Ann’s book and right-wing politics. But you can read conservative message boards whenever issues of race come up.

      And it’s always these right-wingers online bitching about Black History Month without ever really trying to have a serious conversation. Same goes with Affirmative Action.

      I never hear them bitch about Women’s History Month, there’s no “why do we have a women’s history month” there’s no mention of Affirmative Action when it comes to women. It’s always about black people.

    • Lehlogonolo says:

      Growading up, my mom was the peradson whose love I was most secure in, and still am even tgouhh she is not here anyadmore. She told me, she showed me, I never doubted it. On the other hand, my father’s actions may have shown love, but his words tended to do the oppoadsite for me, intenadtional ora0not. From what I can see of your relaadtionadship with Smoo, you have nothading to worry about. She knows. And the fact that you worry about it means that she always will. Smoo is a lucky girl to have a mom that keeps trying. :-)

  10. Carla says:

    As usual, I am encouraged by your decision to take on this ‘debate’ knowing she would try to turn it into to something ugly. Ann Coulter IS very dangerous and I am stunned that she still gets a platform to espouse that venom. Last week, she made a statement about how Bill Maher and Lawrence O’Donnell,who dared to disagree with her, “These are not people who have black friends, who know black people,” she continued. “Oh sorry, except for Lawrence O’Donnell and Bill Maher, who date black gals, so they think they’re freedom riders.” WOW!!! You summed this kind of vitriol up in your piece with my favorite line…’her books are as dangerous and disposable as the worst fast food.’ I am once again moved by encouraged by your ability to eloquently summarize her type and not lose your cool. You are waaaaay more evolved than me. :) )))) We need more voices like yours who will call these ‘actors’ out and do so in a civilized manner. Even though, she is the furthest from civil.

  11. Montiqua says:

    Kevin you are an extraordinary activist, teacher, writer and man. It is unfortunate that people like Ann Coulter have such a large platform to spew hatred, half truths and the distortion of history. What’s even more sad is the amount of people who want to believe people like her. I have HUGE issues with race being that I am a multi-racial black woman. I have experienced such pure evil from my white family members that when I hear the Coulers, Limbaughs and Hannitys of the world I am immediately taken back to those feelings. I know the voice of racism like I know my own children’s voices. Regardless of how many different races America has, the issue will always come down to black vs white and how whites view blacks. You handled yourself perfectly with her during your interview yesterday. I don’t think she has ever experienced an opponent like you. It was a pleasure to see you put her in her place, but also sad to see where race relations stand in America. I have not learned that type of self control yet, as I would have punched her in her face on live television, but I’m learning and evolving. I am a work in progress and work from people like you contibutes to my growth and evolution. Thanks for all that you do. Keep being honest and positive and one day maybe the rest of America will take heed.

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