When’s the last time you took heed to something Ann Coulter said? Truth is, you probably haven’t.
And there’s probably good reason. Coulter’s inflammatory style of discussing current events from her conservative perspective unfortunately detracts most people from engaging with any of her social critiques, yet it’s that very thing that attracts legions of readers to continue making her a New York Times bestseller.
While promoting her upcoming book “Mugged” yesterday on ABC’s “This Week,” Coulter stooped to a new low, if there’s such a thing with this woman. Coulter dared to advance this extreme assertion: “civil rights are [only] for blacks.”
As if blacks are the only group to ever benefit from civil rights provisions. But even when other panelists challenged her yesterday, she continued her ill-conceived rant:
“We don’t owe the homeless. We don’t owe feminists. We don’t owe women who are desirous of having abortions, or gays who want to get married to one another.” She added, “Much of the left… dropped the blacks after five minutes” and are now jettisoning the group in favor of championing immigration and embracing Latinos.
And to top it all off, she suggests:
“We owe black people something. We have a legacy of slavery. Immigrants haven’t even been in this country.”
Talk about twisted logic. Perhaps the only thing she’s right about is that America has a legacy of slavery that needs to be examined and bridged through systemic reforms. But she asserts that feminists, homeless persons, gays and immigrants are somehow not entitled to civil rights because we haven’t “done anything” to them.
Oh, but America has.
Has Coulter ever even looked into the mirror to realize how she, even as a race and class-privileged woman, has benefited from the lasting civil rights legacies of blacks and other marginalized classes of people in American society? The very fact that she can sit as an “esteemed” panelist on Fox News or ABC is because women fought for the right to be included in the political process.
In all honesty, what Coulter fails to understand is one simple truth: civil rights are for everybody.
Civil rights are for the disenfranchised voter. Once upon a time, poll taxes effectively kept anyone except white, landowning males from voting. Voter intimidation tactics steered blacks and minorities from polls, and some blacks were fired from their jobs for attempting to vote. The current battles over voter identification and availability of early voting seek to marginalized vulnerable groups including the elderly, minorities and many working class citizens.
Civil rights are for women. Workplace advocates fought varied legal battles to protect women from wage disparities, sexual harassment and sex discrimination as a barrier to promotions. Suffrage activists rallied for women to vote. The availability of contraception and a woman’s right to choose took the efforts of reproductive rights advocates. Many of these women were and are indeed feminists.
Civil rights are for LGBTQ communities. Just over a year ago, it was still legal to fire openly gay and lesbian members of the Armed Forces, yet trans* servicemembers can still be expelled. During the Cold War, “homosexual deviants” faced police brutality and government surveillance due to fears of blackmail and espionage. Gay relationships are still not recognized via civil partnerships or marriages. In more than 20 states, gays can still be fired from their jobs simply because of who they are, and without any legal protections.
Civil rights are for immigrants. The U.S. is a country of immigrants, with or without the so-called proper documentation. If immigrants weren’t coming in droves, facing laws like Arizona’s SB1652, subject to labor discrimination and attacks by border vigilantes like The Minutemen, pathways to citizenship wouldn’t be as much of a factor in our current political calculations.
Civil rights are for travelers. Law enforcement would otherwise completely disrespect my sense of liberty and integrity (more than they already are) during airport security screenings. “probable cause” to justify pulling me over and searching my car for reasons that haven’t been fully explained to me as a law abiding citizen.
Civil rights are for persons with disabilities. If it weren’t for the Americans with Disabilities Act, your wheelchair-bound neighbor wouldn’t get priority seating on trains and buses, parking lots near entrances or be able to access most public facilities. Your friend with a mental condition would lack legal protections from being fired or otherwise overlooked during workplace hiring — not because of the quality of their work, but because stigma surrounds their mental abilities.
Civil rights are for workers. Collective bargaining wouldn’t exist if not for labor rights activists. We wouldn’t have standardized workday schedules and weekends. Companies wouldn’t have nearly as much pressure to ensure workplace conditions consider employee health and safety. And this year’s two large-scale teachers strikes in Chicago and Wisconsin, aimed at protecting the integrity of labor rights and advocating for educational reforms, would not have become part of a national conversation.
Yes, Ann Coulter, civil rights are for everybody. And that includes you.