Outspoken conservative commentator Ann Coulter demonized liberals and made the case for racial profiling and an attack on Iraq in a speech to a Harvard crowd of about 200 on Saturday.
Though a handful of students protested Coulter’s appearance, the police officer stationed at the door of Sever 113 experienced little difficulty. Coulter opponents in the largely conservative crowd were generally less vocal than at her previous Harvard appearance last Oct. 25, when she was taunted and booed.
Coulter, who spoke Saturday on “Liberalism and Terrorism: Different Stages of the Same Disease,” became a celebrity last year after Sept. 11 when she was fired from her job at the conservative National Review after publishing a proposal for how to deal with people who celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.
“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” she wrote.
Coulter began her speech Saturday by addressing the track record of American liberals, which she said included American dependence on Arab oil, lack of a missile defense shield, “endless” due process rights granted to immigrants and the “purging of ‘insidious’ references to God” from the nation’s public spaces.
She argued for the importance of war with Iraq, saying it ought to compose about 70 percent of the war on terror.
Coulter said liberals objected to the plan to “disrupt and demoralize [Iraqis]” because they only agree with courses of action that do not “inconvenience the enemy.”
“Liberals are agnostic on America’s right to survive,” she said. “They are willing to live in an Orwellian stasis—counseling restraint, putting [confrontation] off for another day.”
“Why rush into war when we can have pre-emptive surrender?” she quipped.
Coulter derided the suggestion that Iraq had little to do with last year’s terrorist attacks.
“Liberals say there is no evidence between Sept. 11 and Iraq,” she said. “There is lots and lots of evidence, but perhaps not enough evidence to convince an O.J. jury.”
Coulter used much of her hour-long speech to endorse the racial profiling of Arabs.
“After Manhattan is nuked by Muslims, then should we give an extra look to swarthy Middle Eastern men?” she asked.
She read a list of recent bombings in which Americans have died, arguing that those responsible—Islamic extremists—fit a definite pattern.
“They have all had the same eye color, hair color, skin color and half of them have been named Muhammad,” she said. “This is not racial profiling; it’s a description of the suspect.”
Coulter dismissed as irrelevant New York Times columns written by Thomas L. Friedman and Nicholas D. Kristof ’81 questioning the sources of Arab hatred of the West.
“Why are they looking at why they hate us?” she asked. “Who cares? We want them to die.”
Coulter said she thought the root question should be: “Why are liberals so loathe of manly testosterone?”
Like last year, Coulter’s visit was organized by the Harvard Republican Club (HRC). This year, the Society of Arab Students were joined in their opposition to Coulter by the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters’ Alliance (BGLTSA) and the Radcliffe Union of Students.
BGLTSA members said they chose to attend the speech because they wanted to make sure that progressive voices were heard at the event.
“Her opinions violate the standards of equality and respect for race and gender that we try to uphold,” said BGLTSA Co-Chair Michael B. Murphy ’03.
Mark T. Silvestri ’05, HRC speakers director, said the group does not necessarily agree with the opinions of the speakers that it chooses to host and that they brought Coulter to campus to foster balanced political debate.
As expected, the speech generated a mixed reaction from the audience, which included many non-Harvard students and parents of first-years in town for Freshman Parents Weekend.
“She is one of the most interesting political speakers I’ve ever heard,” said Spencer R. Paulson ’06. “Even though I don’t agree with all of her views, I respect her for being so brave and open with her opinions.”
M.L. Sanchez, who is director of debate for Vanderbilt University, said she was disappointed with the speech.
“I think that the audience deserves more thoughtful and serious analysis in light of the importance issues facing us today,” Sanchez said.
“It was frustrating,” said Brittani S. Head ’06. “She never directly answered a criticism; she just turned it into a joke.”
Coulter hosted a book-signing after her speech. She is the author of two New York Times best-sellers—“High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton” and, most recently, “Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right.”