It’s not unusual for people to mobilize after a tragedy. Many people, after having lost children or loved ones to sudden death, have gone on to focus their energies on prevention, healing, and public education.
After the death of six-year-old Adam Walsh in 1981, his father, John, went on to spur the formation of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). He became an advocate for victims' rights and went on to host the TV show, America’s Most Wanted. When 13-year old Cari Lightner was killed by a drunk driver in 1979, her mother Candace and many other enraged mothers formed a group called MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). After the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson in 1992, Denise Brown and other family members formed the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation, which provides safe houses for victims of domestic violence.
These are just a few examples of how shattered and heartbroken people have found strength in mobilizing and have created causes that are near and dear to them. So I find it curious and sickening that Ann Coulter has chosen to insult and vilify certain widows of 9/11 victims. Coulter writes in a new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, that a group of New Jersey widows whose husbands perished in the World Trade Center act “as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them.” She goes on to call four 9/11 widows “self-obsessed broads; millionaires – reveling in their status as celebrities.
“I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much… And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren’t planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they’d better hurry up and appear in Playboy.”
It is apparent that Coulter is jealous of the attention that these 9/11 widows are receiving. (Several appeared on Larry King Live earlier this week.) While Coulter has to rely on sensationalism and insults to get press, these four widows have bravely chosen to use their personal losses in a public way, demanding answers about what happened to their loved ones in the World Trade Center disaster.
Almost every American remembers what he or she was doing at the moment the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Human beings worldwide were united in their heartbreak and millions came to NYC to visit the steaming ruins of the crash site weeks and months after it happened. Regardless of party affiliation, race or economic standing, American citizens were wounded. People were driving more courteously. People sobbed openly in airports and markets as they read newspapers and watched television footage in disbelief. Even in Belfast, Ireland, where this writer was on tour at the time of the tragedy, strangers came up and hugged me when they heard me speaking English. It seemed the whole world had been given a healthy dose of compassion. Everyone it seems, except Ann Coulter, who must have slept through the entire event.
To blame victims for their own demise is not a new tactic. Right-wingers such as Jerry Falwell have laid the blame on the gay community for the AIDS epidemic. Right wing conservatives have blamed prostitutes for their own murders at the hands of maniacs like Gary Ridgeway. Holocaust revisionists and deniers often blame the Jews for their own annihilation during the Holocaust. Anti-Israel activists and, most recently, the President of Iran have said that the Jews use the Holocaust to spread guilt so that no one can oppose Israeli policies. (Two very different things, by the way – Jews and Israeli policy.)
It's disgusting that Ann Coulter uses the misery of someone else to sell her vitriolic venom in book form. Her book continues to sell at a rapid pace, but at what cost? She reaps the benefits of the deaths of innocent men and women in 9/11 at the same time she tramples on the tears of their children and loved ones left behind.
While I am certainly not a fan of Cindy Sheehan and her practice of blurring the lines between Iraq and Israel, I still respect her as a mother making the ultimate sacrifice; losing a son to a needless, thankless war. I may not agree with many of her political views, but I would never have the gall to accuse her of “enjoying her son’s death.”
Whether we agree with the 9/11 widows or not is irrelevant. They lost loved ones through no fault of their own. Children will go to sleep tonight without their mommies and daddies to tuck them in. Kids will graduate and marry without a parent to walk them down the aisle or offer a helping hand. Babies were born without ever meeting their fathers. For these reasons alone, the widows should be treated with compassion and heart.
What’s next for Ann? Maybe she can start picketing the memorials for the fallen victims of 9/11 like the Westboro Baptist Church pickets the funerals of fallen gay and lesbian soldiers. They, too, think it’s acceptable and reasonable to verbally abuse the dead and their families.
Ann Coulter has crossed the line of decency. All humans with a beating heart should be appalled. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or don’t vote at all matters not. Your sense of compassion and reverence for the dead should cause you to boycott Coulter's books. She was fired (and rightfully so) by USA Today for some of the insults she slung at women who attended the Democratic convention. You can fire her, too. Keep her off your reading lists and your bookshelves. Send your money instead to a World Trade Center Memorial Fund or to the NYC Firefighters Association, people who give their lives daily trying to save the dying. Her comments are insensitive and unnecessary. She doesn’t need to insult grieving widows to sell her crappy books.
Or, does she??
The following is the statement from the 9/11 widows in response to Coulters vitriolic name-calling as published in the New York Post: