On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, I sat in a friend’s living room and watched the world fall apart. There were, oh, 25 of us there, visiting for a charitable sporting event, but—obviously—not playing. We were all New Yorkers, in that we either lived and/or worked in the city. So to watch our city being attacked, well … it was awful.
Midway through one of the programs, a newscaster noted that Barbara Olson, the 45-year-old conservative commentator, had been a passenger on the American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon.
I had never met Olson. I’m sure, had we met and discussed politics, Olson and I would not have gotten along well. She was an arch-, arch-, arch-conservative; author of books like Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton and The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House. Olson was probably best known for her support of Clarence Thomas when he was being considered for the Supreme Court and, simultaneously, her thrashing of Anita Hill.
I digress. As we sat there, watching and listening in stunned disbelief, a colleague’s words punctured the silence.
“Served the bitch right,” he said.
I couldn’t believe it. No one in the room could believe it. We all continued to sit there, silently, the line “Served the bitch right” just hanging like a thick fog. Yeah, we were a bunch of liberals. But … who cared? This woman died. She had a family. Friends. A life. And now—pfft—it was over. To disagree with someone is hardly a reason to root for someone’s death. I’ve never forgotten those words. And, on the rare occasion I see the utterer, I struggle to look at him with a respectable eye.
I bring this up because yesterday, upon learning about the death of Arlen Specter, Ann Coulter Tweeted the following:
I know … I know—folks like Ann Coulter are best left ignored. I know, I know—Ann Coulter is the ultimate attention whore; throwing out angry Tweets and irrational soundbites in order to maintain her (slipping away) place in the public political dialogue. I know, I know—Ann Coulter would never say such a thing to the face of Specter’s kids or grandkids. I know, I know—people like Ann Coulter thrive upon people like me talking about her. She is, really, the wrestling heel; Big John Stud walking into the ring to fight Andre the Giant, bellowing irrationally about nonsense.
Coulter, truth be told, doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the jarring number of lemmings who follow her (and others of this ilk), thinking they’re witty and clever and, worst of all, righteous in their words.
That’s what bothers me.