About 3:45 am today I awakened. For some reason, Ann Coulter’s image entered my mind. I recall thinking Ann Coulter’s popularity among my Christian friends represents a pernicious feature of religion and right-wing politics.
Ann Coulter spews vitriol poisoning political debate with contempt for political opponents.
For some blessed reason, the Lord let the moment of dark reflection pass. I went back to sleep, awakened at a good time, got ready for work and enjoyed teaching my government classes.
I taught about the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
During the course of the day, I observed that there is a time for war and the courage it demands. I added there is a time for peace, the pursuit of which demands tremendous courage as well.
Peacemaking is not for cowards, I urged.
We listed some peacemakers: Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, Martin Luther King, Jr. Gandhi, and Jesus.
We could have added another peacemaker--Brother Roger who began the Taize reconciliation movement in France after World War II. This week he suffered a fatal stabbing.
Peacemaking remains a dangerous, but apparently rewarding business. Doesn't it say somewhere that peacemakers will be called sons of God?
As I am getting ready to retire for the night, I read online that Ann Coulter has been asked to speak at the Christian university of which I am alum. While an undergrad there I often winced at the assumptions made there that conservatism in politics was the only way. It was often conveyed that it was the only way in much the same way it was conveyed that Christ was the only way. I winced, but still engaged with enthusiasm in political dialogue, social activities, and spiritual enrichment during my days there.
In the years following, I have taught government and economics for many years. In all of those years, it has been my aim to challenge my students to think deeply, read widely, and speak with civility. I pray they will fulfill the Lord's requirements “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with their God.”
Many of my students have gone on to attend my alma mater, Harding University. I often speak highly of the potential for an excellent undergrad education. I aver the kind spirit at the university. I have done this often in the presence of their classmates who exude skepticism about Harding University. Some assume a small liberal arts college in Arkansas could not be anything but provincial and arcane. I try to disabuse the skeptics.
Tonight, as I contemplate early morning ruminations, hours of teaching, and the news of the evening, I am chagrined. Bewildered. Disappointed. Saddened.
So as Harding University announced with fanfare the name of Ann Coulter as a speaker in their American Studies program, she becomes part of the heritage and intellectual life of HU students as have other conservative luminaries like Moshe Dyan, Colin Powell, and Barbara Bush. Ann Coulter will join that roll call with others as well. Like Spiro Agnew.
Long ago, I accepted the fact that the university embraces a conservative ideology.
Ideology is one thing.
Hatefulness, spitefulness, and contempt for others is another.
Even a brief perusal of her website shows, that Anne Coulter has earned her review from the Washington Post Book World, as “a fluent polemicist with a gift for Menckenesque invective”.
During my years at Harding, I kept these words from J.B. Phillips translation of James on my bulletin board
3:17-18 - The wisdom that comes from God is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favoritism or hint of hypocrisy. And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness - in other people and in themselves.
I believed that then; I believe it now.
I think I'll write a letter to the president of the university. My husband and I are not big donors. Our objections to this announcement may not carry much weight. Ken is a minister. I am a teacher. Although I have never embraced the political ideology of the institution, I would like to think that we exemplify the core values of our university.
But featuring Ann Coulter makes me think, Harding does not value us.