Lots of people have been telling me to ignore Ann Coulter: that she says outrageous things to get attention, that addressing her antics is exactly what she wants, that the best thing to do is to starve her of the publicity. I sympathize, I really do. It’s giving her and her kind far too much credit.
However, I’ve been hearing the same argument applied to creationists for about 25 years. “Ignore them and they’ll go away,” or “Serious scientists don’t pay attention to the lunatic fringe,” they say. We tend our little gardens, and we don’t worry about what the crackpot next door is growing in his. But hey, have you noticed something?
Neglect doesn’t work.
Here’s a counterargument: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.” I’ve watched good people do nothing about creeping lunacy and anti-intellectualism for decades. I watched appalled when that senile fool Reagan was elected. I was even more appalled when George W. Bush, airhead extraordinaire and utterly unqualified ignoramus, became president. The citizenry howls to destroy the science standards in our public schools, or complacently votes to lower property taxes at the expense of our children’s minds. While we’ve quietly raised a rich crop in scattered little plots, we are about to be overwhelmed by the nightmarish weeds that overrun our neighbors’. We must stand up and shout, finally…and hope it’s not too late.
Now that doesn’t mean I’d give even a penny to Coulter for her hackwork. It doesn’t mean I would dignify her position by standing together in public with her. What it does mean is that at least some of us are obligated to stand against the tide of garbage and fight it. We have to be loud and we have to be vocal and we can’t afford to just shrug our shoulders and let it all pass. If we accept the idea that we’re wasting our time criticizing patent idiots, then we might as well retire silently with folded hands and let the liars and scoundrels and frauds and kooks continue their campaigns unhindered. It’s really worked well for us so far, hasn’t it?
And for those who think Coulter is a buffoon and clown and opportunist, it doesn’t matter how cynical she is, or whether she believes her own lies. Other people do. You don’t want to take her seriously? Too bad. They do.