Ann Coulter brings heat in trip to Canada
Stirs controversy during visit to Ontario university
By QMI Agency
Ann Coulter received both cheers and jeers while speaking at the University of Western Ontario on Monday. (MIKE HENSEN/QMI Agency)
Coulter visit sets off furor
LONDON, Ont. -- A 17-year-old Muslim student sparked the testiest exchange and the loudest cheers and jeers at a speech by controversial U.S. conservative Ann Coulter at the University of Western Ontario Monday.
After a wide-ranging speech attacking gay rights activists, the mainstream media and the Barack Obama administration, Coulter took questions from an audience clearly divided in its support for her style of attack conservatism.
Fatima Al-Dhaher, a political science student from London, rose and spoke about comments Coulter made after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The firebrand Republican had suggested Muslim countries be invaded, their leaders killed and all Muslims converted to Christianity. She later suggested Muslims denied air travel take “flying carpets” instead.
“As a 17-year-old student of this university, Muslim, should I be converted to Christianity? Second of all, since I don’t have a magic carpet, what other modes do you suggest,” Al-Dhaher said to loud and sustained applause.
“I thought it was just American public schools that produced ignorant people,” Coulter replied, prompting her own round of applause.
Coulter then noted many Japanese were converted to Christianity after the Second World War and “we haven’t heard a peep out of them.”
To shouts of “Answer the question,” Coulter finally replied “What mode of transportation? Take a camel.”
“Are you going to convert her now?” another student shouted out.
“No, there are some people I just as soon not convert,” Coulter retorted.
Al-Dhaher, who left the session soon after, said she came to the speech because it’s important to hear all sides of the political spectrum.
But Coulter disappointed, Al-Dhaher said and raised one of the criticisms that has marked the conservative’s otherwise entertaining speeches.
“She just spewed all this nonsense, it was a comedic act.”
Coulter did not disappoint her many fans in the crowd of 800 with either her politics or her humour.
Little of Coulter’s speech touched on Canadian issues, but she did predict Americans would eventually “punch back” against the historic health-care deal — and a blow to Republicans — passed this week.
“I don’t know how we’re going to have the punchback, but four years of (Democratic President) Jimmy Carter brought us (Republican President) Ronald Reagan.”
Her 45-minute speech was loosely focused on political correctness, which gave her full reign to attack liberals of all stripes.
Liberals constantly complain their rights are being attacked in the same way blacks’ rights once were, she said.
“In America everybody wants to be black. The feminists want to be black, the illegal aliens want to be black, the gays want to be black,” she said.
Yet none of the complainers have anything serious to complain about, Coulter said.
“There are only two things gay men can’t do. Number one, get married to each other. Number two, throw a baseball without looking like a girl.”
But her jokes often had a serious point as well.
“Every Democrat in the past several election cycles that has run for president has sworn to attack gay marriage, but only Republicans get attacked for gay marriage.”
Backed by the mainstream media, liberals have turned political correctness into a weapon that attempts to silence people with opposing views, Coulter said.
Liberal pundits suggest Obama’s race helped him win the election, but conservatives cannot do the same, she said.
Feminists blame the Conservatives for an array of ills, but turned suddenly silent when former U.S. president Bill Clinton had sex with intern, she said.
“Political correctness has nothing to do with offending people or not offending people. It is purely about power,” she said.
Before right-wing U.S. pundit Ann Coulter even set a stilettoed foot on this side of the border for a trio of speaking engagements this week, she managed to make a few Canadians nervous.
Ms. Coulter catapulted to international notoriety two days after the 9/11 attacks with a column in the National Review in which she advocated conquering Muslim countries and converting the people to Christianity. But as the columnist prepares to visit Canada this week to speak at three universities, a senior University of Ottawa administrator has warned her to use "restraint, respect and consideration" when speaking at the school.
Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost, advises Ms. Coulter, who holds a law degree, to review Canada's hate speech and defamation laws before giving her talk at the university.
In an email sent to Ms. Coulter on Friday, a copy of which has been obtained by the National Post, Mr. Houle wrote: "Our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or "free speech") in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here."
He continued, "Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."
After also mentioning defamation law, the provost wrote, "I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind."
"Now that the provost has instructed me on the criminal speech laws he apparently believes I have a proclivity (to break), despite knowing nothing about my speech, I see that he is guilty of promoting hatred against an identifiable group: conservatives," Coulter wrote in an e-mail to the Ottawa Citizen Monday. The Citizen had requested a telephone interview with Coulter, but instead received the e-mail from the author.
She questioned whether every speaker booked at the university receives a similar warning, or just the conservative ones.
"The provost simply believes and is publicizing his belief that conservatives are more likely to commit hate crimes in their speeches. Not only does this promote hatred against conservatives, but it promotes violence against conservatives," Coulter wrote.
She added she will ask the human rights commission to investigate, but didn't specify which one.
"I was hoping for a fruit basket upon my arrival in Canada, not a threat to criminally prosecute me," Coulter said.
Houle was not available for comment.
The columnist will speak at the University of Western Ontario in London on Monday, followed by the University of Ottawa tomorrow and the University of Calgary on Wednesday.
In Ottawa, the president of the student federation barred a volunteer organizer from putting up posters advertising the upcoming appearance.
"The federation does not support Ann Coulter speaking on our campus," said student president Seamus Wolfe. "We're trying to work with the administration to see if we can ask her to do her speaking event somewhere else."
He said the federation controls which posters can be placed inside the University Centre building, while administration officials approve posters at other university buildings. A university spokesperson said the administration did not object to Ms. Coulter's talk being advertised.
In London, local activist Megan Walker provoked an angry response from conservative sponsors of the pundit's talk after the London Free Press reported that she called Ms. Coulter a "venomous" person who "crosses the line and promotes hatred and violence."
Ms. Coulter has spoken less than respectfully about Canada itself in the past.
"They'd better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent," she once said during a television debate.
During the same program, when asked why she felt the need to ridicule Canadians, the columnist said, "because they speak French." (The University of Ottawa is a bilingual institution.)
She did, however, reserve a kind word for Western Canada, calling it the "good part" for its conservatives and cowboys.
- With files from Canwest News Service
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In my opinion, that second article is absolutely hilarious.
She's stopping at the University of Calgary on Thursday with this same speech, and it's free for me to attend. I may not agree with everything she says, but number one, it's hilarious, and number two, I think at least 50% of what she says is with her tongue firmly in cheek.
I'm going to get my book signed.
I can't wait for the protesting and short tempers! Going to be so much fun.
Edited by Nihil Obstat, 22 March 2010 - 10:56 PM.