Ann Coulter’s Casual Cruelty

Editor’s Note: I am grateful now as always for a guest post from my esteemed friend, Peter Wehner. 

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In her most recent column, “Ebola’s Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic’”, Ann Coulter mocks Dr. Kent Brantly.

Dr. Brantly is a family practice physician who was serving in Liberia through a Samaritan’s Purse program before joining a medical team responding to the Ebola crisis. A husband and father of two young children, Dr. Brantly tested positive for the Ebola virus while treating patients in Liberia.

This tragic turn of events has made Ms. Coulter agitated and angry, not at the disease but at its victim. Dr. Brantly, you see, is a regrettable instance of “Christian narcissism.” (The irony of Coulter accusing anyone of narcissism seems lost on her.) Of Dr. Brantly and other Christian missionaries, she writes:

Evangelize in Liberia, and the [New York] Times’ Nicholas Kristof will be totally impressed. Which explains why American Christians go on “mission trips” to disease-ridden cesspools. They’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream.

Helping people in lands other than America, Coulter argues, is not only cowardly and selfish, but unbiblical as well. Your country is like your family, she writes. “We’re supposed to take care of our own first.” Dr. Brantly should have been evangelizing Hollywood power brokers, where he could have made a difference, or stayed in Zavala Country, Texas, “where he wouldn’t have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.” And, she adds:

Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America’s premier hospitals.

Some people get all the luck.

Even grading on the Coulter curve, the column is cruel, biblically illiterate and morally incoherent. Cruel because she’s mocking a man who has contracted a brutal and often lethal disease, a man whose family is now terrified for his life. It takes an unusually callous and malicious heart to devote an entire column to attacking a husband and father who, while serving others, is stricken with a virulent disease. And as an added grace note, Coulter divines Dr. Brantley’s heart, accusing him – without a shred of evidence — of being both a coward and vainglorious.

Ms. Coulter’s biblical illiteracy is evident in taking a verse from Deuteronomy (15:11) and building a doctrine that argues that serving people outside of your nation is a violation of God’s word and ways. The logic of her column is that until every problem in your nation is solved, no person should serve as a missionary to other lands. This doctrine would surprise St. Paul, whose missionary journeys took him to (among other places) modern-day Syria, Turkey, Greece and Rome. If Ms. Coulter wants to defend her peculiar missiology and hyper-nationalism, she needs to find sources other than the Bible.

As for Ms. Coulter’s moral incoherence: There are of course real needs in America and many millions of Christians (and non-Christians) are doing something to address them. All honor is due them. But people are called to serve in various ways, and there are other nations in the world where the poverty and misery are far worse than what we see in America. For individual Christians to sacrifice their own lives of comfort and ease to help “the least of these,” on whatever continent they are found, is among the higher callings of the faith. It ranks even above writing books like Treason, Slander, Demonic and If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans.

Ms. Coulter seems unaware of the fact that the global medical missions movement is one of the great achievements of Christianity. But then again, there is much about Christianity she seems unaware of. Let’s just say that when one thinks about what St. Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – Ann Coulter’s name doesn’t leap immediately to mind.

Elisabeth Elliot, who served as a missionary to the Quichua and Auca Indians in South America and whose husband Jim and four other missionaries were martyred in 1956, wrote a lovely biography about Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die. Ms. Elliot referred to Carmichael – an Irish missionary who spent 53 years in South India – as “my first spiritual mother. She showed me the shape of godliness.”

Near the end of her 1987 book, Ms. Elliot writes this:

If there should appear in the twentieth century one who was truly holy, a missionary who actually believed in the word of the Master and the worth of the assigned task, a Christian who never served Mammon, who, though human and failing, nevertheless kept a sense of the glory and dignity of having been redeemed and called by God – if such a person should appear, would we say, “Away with him! Crucify him!”? Not out loud. There are other ways of banishing those who, because they live out the Truth, make us uncomfortable. We can deny the possibility of purity. We can refuse to tolerate superiority. If we are tempted to recognize them as true heroes, we can bolster our self-esteem by pulling them down to our level.

If Elisabeth Elliot didn’t personally know Ann Coulter, she certainly knew her type.

The poor we shall always have among us. The cruel and heartless, too.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 1.23.30 PMPeter Wehner is former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush. Wehner served also in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, serves now as a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and coauthor with Michael Gerson of City of Man and with Arthur Brooks of Wealth and Justice.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • Michael McNeil

    I agree with Ms. Coulter.

  • rational38

    “The poor we shall always have among us. The cruel and heartless, too”

    This may be true or not as I hope for a time with no poor and without the cruel or heartless, but just because the cruel and heartless exist does not mean they need to be given media outlets. You are probably correct that her ilk will always be around, but what says it about a media that amplify her voice.

  • Thelonious Mac

    While I would not have expressed the ideas in the unfortunate language used by Ms. Coulter, I can understand her initial premise and follow her train of thought to what is clearly an overall expression of frustration with the futility of misguided altruism.

    I also know that if she could wave her hands and cure the good Doctor and all Ebola victims, she would. She is not cruel, she just has too highly a developed sense of absurdity. It is an affliction that I share and it can make you say things that others find incomprehensibly cruel.

    • JeromeD

      Exceptionally well put.

    • Teresa Rincon

      How many people has Coulter led to Christ? Had she ever given a testimony of being born again?

    • Abbie80

      Dr Brantley’s efforts in Liberia were neither futile nor misguided. He was following the teachings of Christ. It saddens me that there are so many who don’t recognize that.

    • Tom

      Having a sense of absurdity that leads to cruel expressions is neither positive or neutral. It’s an extreme character flaw that says something about the person you are. Sorry to be so direct, but come on man!

      And yes, she is cruel and proves it in her writings about Dr. Brantly.

      Did you not actually read, think and reflect on the essay above?

  • Southern Gent

    T Mac, I too get what is underlying her terribly underthought words. So why did she say them? She, of all people, knows how powerful words can be, especially from a flame-thrower such as herself. What was the underlying motive? We may never know the truth. Sadly, though, truth is not what motivates flame throwers (from the Left as well as the Right). Notoriety motivates. Power, money, even bloodlust are what motivate these people. So for anyone who retweets, forwards, or utters Ms. Coulter’s words, be circumspect about the reasons why. Perhaps the motivation is not one of peace and love and unity, but simply of power.

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com/ The Sanity Inspector

    Well said. Coulter, when she pens things like this, isn’t analyzing or explaining or discussing. She’s performing.

    • Slātlantican

      Indeed, and this is evidence of how much harder it is getting for her to sell tickets to her performances.

      I have greatly enjoyed a book or two of hers in the past, but I think Ann is not aging well.

  • Skitshin

    “Christian narcissism” is the perfect phrase. Well done Ann.

  • Slātlantican

    Ms. Coulter is a self-described polemicist. Having practiced her “art” in the public eye for nearly 20 years now, it grows ever more difficult for her to gain media attention, having already picked the low-hanging fruit.

    So now comes the ironic twist: a woman who has done a better job than most in identifying the contemporary siege of American Christians, has now attacked a Christian for not practicing Christianity in accordance with her thinking—a behavior which sounds shockingly similar to the disputes between different factions of Islam, which Ms. Coulter herself has rightly condemned for its intolerance.

    • http://kingscriercommissions.blogspot.com/ thekingscrier

      By contemporary siege, do you mean the movement away from American Christians getting to push their agenda on everyone else with impunity?

  • Snoopy

    As so often, an important issue gets muddled by religious pribble prabble.

    The question stands, why western doctors roam the world in search of the most dangerous shitholes in which they can exercise their white saviour complex, especially when they could probably save 10 x as many lives if they could only bring themselves to work in the West, where a great amount of poor and hopeless people are left in the gutter by mainstream politics, media, AND the healthcare system.

    Yes, Ann Coulter’s tone is cynical and cruel – as it should be with someone who has clearly identified the vapid narcissism of these crusading do-gooders, whose failures will always come back to haunt us all in the end.

    • Fearitself73

      So non-whites live in “dangerous shitholes ” but you’re concerned about “white saviour complex”.

      The stupidity of your post, and the surprising number of others who agree with Ann, makes my head hurt

      • Snoopy

        Well, since you haven’t brought forward a single refutation to the points I made, I must assume that you actually agree with them but just don’t want to admit to it.

        • Fearitself73

          And another one…

    • Teresa Rincon

      So God needs to make sure His calling on people’s lives lines up with expediency. Gotcha.

      • Snoopy

        Which part of “religious pribble prabble” didn’t you understand? This is very explicitely NOT a religious issue.

        • Teresa Rincon

          There is no “pribble prabble” when God has spoken.

          • Snoopy

            Keep your delusions to yourself and yourself out of politics. Thank you.

  • hbmuzik

    “Ms. Coulter seems unaware of the fact that the global medical missions movement is one of the great achievements of Christianity. But then again, there is much about Christianity she seems unaware of.”

    So very disappointed with Ann’s shortsightedness on this…this article brilliantly illustrates her myopic view on the basic fundamentals of Christianity–do unto others as you would have them do unto you. She scoffs at isolationism in foreign policy but thinks it belongs in the realm of living out one’s personal faith. I’m sure Dr. Brantly was not insisting on Samaritan’s Purse shelling out $2M for his medical relocation. That Samaritan’s Purse insisted on doing it shows how much they value their own. That kind of support should have positively impressed Ms. Coulter–obviously the gesture was lost on her. . . . as it was on some of the commenters on this article.

  • RustbeltRick

    My in-laws are committed evangelical conservatives. Last year they paid good money to attend a conservative event which featured bomb-thrower Ann Coulter and convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza. I assume the event was full of snarky references to the current President, who is reviled, along with perpetual pitches to purchase Coulter/D’Souza books, tapes, seminars and information products.
    For my in-laws, and millions of other people, religious devotion goes hand-in-hand with extremist, hateful politics. The two are inseparable; how can they not be, when the current President is portrayed as Satan’s faithful minion?
    I agree that Coulter’s recent statements are despicable, but I do think her entire platform has been supported by conservative evangelicals for a very long time, so you only have yourselves to blame for this woman. Her portrayal of the president has been just as hate-filled as her portrayal of Dr. Brantly, but in the former case, most evangelicals either didn’t voice an objection –or you agreed with her.

  • http://kingscriercommissions.blogspot.com/ thekingscrier

    It should be painfully obvious at this point that Coulter says what she says simply to drive page views, increase her own exposure, and ensure people talk about her.

    She cares more about creative outrage than she does creative solutions.

  • thinkingaboutit

    How fortunate we are that there are people who are willing to combat deadly diseases in Africa and elsewhere. Without a global commitment these diseases would surely grow and spread.

  • http://www.swordcrossrocket.com swordcrossrocket

    I don’t want to downgrade the call of God on someone’s life, but I think Ann made a point that we don’t see enough of. The argument for working at home is that a person can be far more effectual in their call for others. A lot of overseas stuff is honestly Sisphean; without serious reforms to governments that are willing to let foreigners be their safety net, no lasting change will ever happen. And it’s a lot more expensive to keep rolling the stone up an overseas hill than at home.

    I think Christians need to look at their call not just from obedience, but also from pragmatic means. It’s not just good, but sustained, enduring good that should happen, and there’s a lot of charity that can fall into the danger of narcissism if it doesn’t realize lasting change.

  • Tom

    Anyone with half a brain realizes how wrong Coulter is. But you articulated the reasons perfectly. Well done Tim. I hope that your profound analysis can change the hearts of those who need to find compassion and clarity.

  • Penny For The Guy

    Ann Coulter is passé.

    If there is any “narcissist” in the room, it is she.

    More disturbing are the number of self-professed “Christians” who agree with her rants. There is, however, a remedy, called “repentance”.

    Alas, before one can repent, one must admit to sin. And her partisans, no less than she, do not – can not — admit to being wrong in any wise.


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