April 17, 2024

SCHECHTER | I Don’t Agree With A Thing She Says, But I Still Showed Up To Hear Ann Coulter Rant

Print More

She’s callous and selfish, a white nationalist hungry for fame and sound bytes. She wants to diminish the diverse beauty of our country to a place where only rich whites have a role. She said “anchor babies” suck the social safety net dry. And she shut down any idea that immigrants could be good for our country. 

I didn’t agree with anything Ann Coulter said in her speech last night. But I showed up anyway. Not out of respect for her. I have none. But for myself, and a belief that we can’t make the world a better place for everyone until we understand the people who want to hoard America’s promise and prosperity for themselves. 

I went because I believe in the idea of negative capability, holding two contradictory ideas in your head as true. I firmly believe that Ann Coulter is a sad, deplorable racist who Cornell has no business inviting. But I still felt inclined to hear her speak to see exactly why I disagree with her.

When I walked into Myron Taylor Hall, I expected to be greeted by fiery protesters, hordes of engaged students and droves of people who think what she has to say is vile and insensitive. There were probably 50 people in the room, half of them graying administrators and members of the Ithaca Republican Party. I firmly stand by the idea that, as mentioned in our previous editorial, inviting Coulter to campus is a case study in hypocrisy, a thinly veiled attempt to show that the school actually does care about free speech in the face of mounting tensions, they don’t. But I still think it’s our civic responsibility as students to go see people like her.

During Coulter’s speech, titled “Immigration, The Conspiracy to End America,” Coulter removed herself from the rich framework of immigration that America has been built on. What she ignores is that All of us here in this country have relied, at one point in our family history or another, on the good graces of the American immigration system; on the promise that we could come and start fresh, shedding the burdens of our old lives. 

I know my great-grandfather did when he left Belarussian persecution with his life barely intact. He, as Coulter suggested, didn’t really “deserve” the fruits of life in America. He did, however, capitalize on them. I wouldn’t be here without him. Ann Coulter, in her shallow selfishness, can’t see past the problems of today to glimpse the virtues that stretch throughout American political time. She clearly doesn’t place herself in a broader context. 

At one point in her speech, Coulter questioned “Why does every sad sack in the world have to come to this country?” How selfish and misguided. There were many moments when I had to push down my laughter. I didn’t clap or cheer when she finished, but I still showed up to watch and listen.

For everyone who disagrees with the ideas Coulter promotes, we are the ones who should show up in the masses. To respect free speech and honor its role on campus, you need to be in the room. I was there, simply to figure out exactly how and why I disagreed with it. Her speech reinforced in me the hope I have for the American immigration system, how the arrival of new Americans doesn’t tear us down. It builds us up; our country and culture. I went to see Coulter because I wanted to decipher why she thinks the way she does. Why doesn’t she get the full picture of the promise of American life. Why she’s blind to a global community of humans.

In order for good to win over evil, you have to first understand the evil.