You sometimes wonder whether talking heads say offensive things intentionally or whether gaffes pop out of them more or less at random.
For instance, I could be persuaded that Bill O’Reilly suggesting that a little boy saw an upside to being kidnapped from his parents and repeatedly raped was a statement made out of ignorance rather than malice; it’s possible that, at the time O’Reilly said those things it was not entirely certain whether the abducted child had simply been held or whether his kidnapper was molesting him.
But it’s something else entirely when someone points out, “Dude, you just put your foot right in it,” and gives the person in question a chance to retract or apologize. When the person in question not only repeats but then inflates their originally offensive statements, that’s evidence that the statement is a real look into the person’s intentions. So when Anne Coulter said that America would be a better place if everyone were Christian, the host of the program (Donny Deutsch, who is Jewish) gave Coulter that out. She didn’t take it and instead proceeded to dig further:
“No, we think — we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say.”
“Wow, you didn’t really say that, did you,” Deutsch said.
“Yeah, no,” Coulter replied. “That’s what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. You have to obey laws. We know we’re all sinners.
Deutsch said he was personally offended.
“No. I’m sorry. It is not intended to be,” [Coulter replied]. “I don’t think you should take it that way, but that is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews.”
There’s more; go ahead and read the whole thing. It’s astonishing, and it’s about as conclusive proof as I need to be satisfied that this “opinion leader” is really, honestly, maliciously a bigot. Coulter may not necessarily be off the mark when she says that “liberals prefer invective to engagement” but she’s hardly in a position to cast that stone in the first place.
It would be easy to dismiss Coulter as an irrelevant “shock-jock” of public debate, a political pornographer and nothing more. But it matters because she is an opinion leader, a lightning rod for the issues we discuss. Somehow, she’s been put in a position where she and a few other elites like her pose the questions that the rest of us answer and debate amongst ourselves. Having one of those questions be, “Should we all be Christian?” means “Should we get rid of all the Jews and Hindus?” and from there it’s only a very short step to “Should we all be Baptist Christians?” and the theological and ideological narrowing process only continues from there. And that’s a very unhealthy debate to be having.