Born in New York City on Dec. 9, 1961, arch-conservative Ann Coulter is the author of eight New York Times bestsellers and of a nationally-syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate. She also serves as the legal correspondent for Human Events and is a frequent guest on such TV shows as The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Sean Hannity, The O'Reilly Factor, The Glen Beck Show and HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.
The ever-controversial, flame-throwing firebrand has been on the cover of Time Magazine and profiled in publications like TV Guide, the Guardian, the New York Observer, National Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and Elle Magazine, too. In 2001, she was named one of the top 100 Public Intellectuals by federal judge Richard Posner.
A Connecticut native, Coulter graduated with honors from Cornell University and received her J.D. from University of Michigan Law School, where she was an editor of The Michigan Law Review. Here, she talks about her ninth book, "Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama."
Kam Williams: Hi Ann, thanks for the interview.
Ann Coulter: Thank you, Kam.
KW: I'm a fellow Cornellian, but I went there a decade ahead of you.
AC: Wow! It was such a beautiful campus. But were you there during all the turmoil?
KW: No, I arrived the year after the famous, black student takeover with guns that made national news. But while I was there, we did have plenty of strikes, takeovers and demonstrations about everything from Apartheid to the War in Vietnam. There was so much chaos on campus it seemed like finals were cancelled every spring semester.
AC: Didn't you people ever learn anything? [Laughs]
KW: Rather than reminisce, let me get right to the questions, since my readers sent in more than I could ever get to. Troy Johnson was upset by a quote from your book where you counter Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men" by asking: "Shall we compare SAT scores, cultural contributions and inventions?" Troy wonders whether you're aware of all the cultural contributions that can be traced back to Africa, including Christianity? And are you aware that blacks tend to outperform whites from similar socioeconomic backgrounds on standardized tests?
AC: Yes, in fact, in an early chapter of "Mugged," I rely heavily on Thomas Sowell's magnificent book, "Black Rednecks, White Liberals." He points out that blacks in the North perform better, academically, than whites in the South where they did not have much of an emphasis on learning. But please note that I'm not the one making that argument in that section about Michael Moore. And by the way, I'm not a man. White men have done a lot. It's silly to write a book titled, "Stupid White Men."
KW: Filmmaker Kevin Williams, director of "Fear of a Black Republican" asks: Why do you think the Republican Party doesn't reach out more to African-Americans on its own terms today? Have you seen the documentary?
AC: No, but I've heard of it.
KW: It's excellent. You figure prominently in it. So does Michael Steele. Kevin says he'd like to get you a copy.
AC: Oh, I would love that, and I love Michael Steele.
KW: Kevin's basic thesis is that the Republican Party is hurting itself by failing to court the black vote.
AC: Oh, I don't believe that's true at all. Republicans have reached out so much to black Republicans because it's part of our tradition. Blacks have been in this nation longer than most other Americans with the possible exception of WASPs. The first blacks in Congress and the first black Governor were all Republicans. It was Republicans who fought the Civil War over slavery and who introduced the Civil Rights legislation over the next hundred years. So, suggestions to the contrary drive Republicans like me crazy.
KW: Marcia Evans says she agrees with your recent comment that the U.S. is only indebted to African-Americans. What prompted that statement?
AC: I was being a little cross with a right-wing black friend for throwing in the Hispanics and the Asians into a Jesse Jackson-type Rainbow Coalition. No! No! Blacks have a special history, since they were enslaved and were here as early as the first Americans. I hate to sound like a liberal but these are facts. That makes blacks a special group and I really don't appreciate all these hangers on coming along. Yes, of course, black Americans are a special group, and I'm disappointed that they're not Republicans, given our traditions. We're not getting much love in return, despite our efforts.
KW: Why do you think that's the case?
AC: Part of the reason is that it's really hard to be a black Republican. I see what they go through. It's a good little trick the entire mainstream media has pulled by describing Republicans as "Racist! Racist! Racist!" and then turning around and laughing at us for not having more blacks in our party. That's why I hope a lot of black people will read my book because I think it will change minds.
KW: One discussion I found interesting in Mugged was where you point out that Strom Thurmond was the only segregationist U.S. Senator to change his affiliation from Democratic to Republican. I would've guessed that there had been a wholesale flight of Southern conservatives to the Republican Party.
AC: Thurmond's the only segregationist anyone can name. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party had former Klansmen, members of a terrorist group that was lynching and murdering black people. That was an outgrowth of the Democratic Party. FDR put a Klansman [Hugo Black] on the Supreme Court, and Democrat in good standing Bob Byrd [U.S. Senator Robert Byrd] was a recruiter for the Klan.
KW: Nonetheless, I still have the sense that most of the Southerners who would've been segregationists in the Fifties and Sixties are now in the Republican camp.
AC: No, that's only because liberals say this over and over and over again to hide the actual history, which is why I go through the specifics on the big segregationists in the United States Senate, the ones who signed the Southern Manifesto and the ones who voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. There's a panoply of issues to consider. These were aggressively-liberal Democrats who loooooooved big government when it came to The New Deal and Great Society programs. The first time they objected to the Federal government doing something was when it came to civil rights legislation. This is in stark contrast to the very few Republicans who voted against the '64 Civil Rights Act.
KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles asks: What do you hope will be people's reaction to being "Mugged" by you?
AC: [LOL] I like that! Two reactions. The main point is: don't make the mistake, America, of voting for Barack Obama who, by the way, does not come out of the American black experience and everything white Americans feel guilty about. He's a Hawaiian born in 1961. Weirdly enough, the best thing that ever happened to black people in the last twenty or thirty years was the O.J. verdict because it shut down the white guilt bank. And white guilt has never led to anything good. It's brought us spiraling crime rates, mostly with black victims, and a permanent underclass living in public housing projects. For years, liberals cried that "law and order" and "welfare reform" were racist code words. Yet, when Republicans were finally able to push through tough policies on crime and welfare which they'd supported for decades, they were magnificent successes for the entire country, but especially for black people. Release us, and great things will happen!
KW: Yale grad Tommy Russell asks: Are you familiar with Dr. Nina Jablonski and her important work that helps debunk the myth of race? Do you feel it's important to get past the notion of race as something that separates us, and use our understanding of its at times painful history to move forward as a country, civilization and world?
AC: I have not heard of her work, and I have not thought about the issue in those terms, but I would say "Yes!" based on the way it was phrased in the question.
KW: Tommy also asks: As a former smoker, do you feel a special kinship with President Obama?
AC: [LOL] Yes, though I think he's a little more uptight than most smokers. We're usually pretty relaxed.
KW: Why do you make the point in the book that he might have slave trader ancestors?
AC: Because of all our presidents, Obama is the one most likely to be descended from a slave trader, since Kenya had a major slave-trading port, and the Muslims were heavily involved in the slave trade. Right before The Civil War, only 8% of white people owned slaves. Some plantations would have hundreds and hundreds of slaves, but the vast majority of whites didn't have any.
KW: Larry Greenberg says: When Alan Ball launched the HBO-series True Blood with his pilot "Strange Love" episode, he mentioned right in the script that he wanted the conservative commentator on the show to be as much like Ann Coulter as possible. How did you feel about that and about how you are portrayed, vis-a-vis vampires coming out of the coffin?
AC: I had no idea. I'm not familiar with show. As soon as the subject moves to TV shows and movies, I'm a total failure. And I'd been paying for all those premium channels for years, but recently cancelled them, since I never watched any of those networks. Now, I may have to get them back. As far as True Blood, I haven't seen my portrayals, but I could guess that I probably wouldn't like 'em.
KW: Richie the intern asks: What did you think of how the cartoon The Boondocks depicted you?
AC: I've at least heard of The Boondocks. But again, I have no idea how that was done. I wouldn't know all that I do about history, if I spent my time watching cartoons and other TV shows. [Chuckles]
KW: Richie was also wondering what Christian denomination you are affiliated with.
AC: I don't really talk about it much, but I'm a Presbyterian.
KW: Ilene Proctor says: Beware the Coultergeist! She asks: Why did you recently say that civil rights should only be limited to African-Americans?
AC: Because, historically, that's what civil rights were. The Democrats pretended to care about black people for about five minutes to help their electoral process, and then civil rights suddenly became abortion on demand, gay marriage, rights for the homeless, etcetera. Frankly, I'd be a little ticked off if I were black that, after the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, everybody else wants to get to the head of the parade. Well, no! Listen, I like white women. I am a white woman. But we didn't go through slavery and Jim Crow. Knock it off with this stuff!
KW: What inspired you to write this book?
AC: I was morose that the Era of Obama has returned us to a period where everything is racist, everyone is walking on eggshells, and you get the moral preening from white liberals who don't actually even know any black people. But, oh, do they love to get on their high horses and accuse Republicans of being racist for opposing very liberal government policies and a very liberal Democratic president. It's an extension of the civil rights label being slapped on gay marriage and abortion. Allow me to be bi-partisan for a moment, and love this moment because it won't last long. In my last chapter, among the public officials I mention who I think are spectacular and unaided by white guilt is the Democratic Mayor Cory Booker of Newark. He was Mau-Maued for not being black enough. He's been like Giuliani in Newark. He's got to become a Republican.
KW: Kate Newell asks: Would you consider debating Stephen Colbert ala the upcoming face-off between John Stewart and Bill O'Reilly? What do you think of the use of satire in getting your views across?
AC: Obviously, I'm a fan of satire. I'd debate anyone, but it would have to be the actual person. That would be my only hesitation about debating Colbert. If he were playing a character, it wouldn't really work. But I'd pretty much debate anybody. I prefer to debate smart liberals. I'm not saying this about Stephen Colbert but, unfortunately, the most famous liberals generally aren't the smartest ones. I have a list of the smarter liberals I recommend.
KW: Fellow attorney, fellow Cornellian and, in his opinion, fellow fiction writer Peter Brav says: Where do I start? I worked really hard to come up with a question for you, telling myself that your act is just an act, that you might actually help my wheelchair-bound mother across the street and not push her into traffic to help reduce the Medicare deficit, because I don't want to risk Kam's not making it onto your website's short list of seven "Interviewers Who Are Allowed to Interview Ann Again." But I just couldn't.
AC: [LOL] Read the book, Peter! You'll come up with a lot of questions. I don't know why liberals find it comforting to say this is an act. If you like saying that, okay. But it's an act that apparently you can't respond to, and an act that is intellectual and well thought out enough that you don't have a response to, otherwise you would.
KW: Peter's wife, Professor Janet Brav says: Since things are not going as well as you might have hoped for Mitt Romney, with the benefit of hindsight, whom would you have preferred to head the Republican ticket this year?
AC: No, it's still Romney. And I don't think things are going that badly. I believe the media's lying. I think it's part of their attempted suppression of the Republican vote to discourage them by announcing that the campaign is over.
KW: Marcia Evans also asks: What has been your personal relationship with blacks that qualifies you to write this book about blacks?
AC: Well, Marcia, this is why you should read the book. It is not about black people. It is about white liberals using race and lying about race to wreck the country. By the way, there are many black heroes in this book that you've never heard of before, and it drives me crazy that there aren't any movies made about them.
KW: Marcia asks: How do you feel about reparations?
AC: I'm against reparations. At this point, blacks should just be handing money to themselves. But I am an enthusiastic supporter of Professor Henry Louis Gates' project to get black people admitted to the Daughters of the American Revolution, of which I am a member. He's done some amazing things with DNA testing and tracing ancestry.
KW: Marcia asks: How do you feel about Bob Dylan's recent statement that "America was founded on the backs of slaves" and that the country would be much further along if slavery had been ended peacefully.
AC: That's an interesting point. I was unaware that he'd said that. I'm not sure I disagree with his statement but, unfortunately, it wasn't going to end peacefully. It wasn't going to happen. You could not get Democrats to stop holding slaves, and America had waited long enough. It was right there in The Declaration of Independence that the slaves would be freed. My favorite Founding Fathers, Christians like John Adams, were absolutely appalled by slavery, and did not own slaves. I think we're going to have to call on God's grace not only for slavery, but for what we're doing now with abortions.
KW: You dedicated your book to "the freest black man in America."
KW: Who is it?
AC: It's a Cracker Jack surprise to trick everybody into reading my book.
KW: Let me guess. Is it comedian Jimmy ".J'J." Walker? Many of my readers mentioned rumors about the two of you being romantically linked.
AC: [LOL] Jimmy started that rumor. The little sneak.
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
AC: Probably, although we got to a lot of good ones on this book.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
AC: I'm a little afraid right now, but I think I'll be calm by November 7th.
KW: Can you give me a good question I could call the Ann Coulter question when I interview other celebrities?
AC: Oh, that's a good question. The only question I'd be interested in is what books they've read recently, which is part of my campaign to promote reading.
KW: It's already the bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
AC: If I've just had my makeup done for Fox, I see the hottest chick. [LOL]
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
AC: Mitt Romney as president, or for lots of people to read my book. One of the two.
KW: What is it like to be such a controversial figure? There are so many things you've said that have touched a nerve, like when you said Jews needed to be corrected.
AC: "Perfected." You, as a fellow Cornell grad and a fellow Christian, which is another part of your tradition, should know that "perfected" means "completed." The Old Testament calls for a Messiah. You turn the page to the New Testament, and there He is. There was nothing insulting about it. And who really cares? It was just Donny Deutsch who wanted press for his TV show. He screamed anti-Semitism, and I was going on vacation and didn't really feel the need to respond to point out how the English language works. And boy they say Jews are smart.
KW: But that's not the only statement that's landed you in hot water.
AC: Usually, they're my greatest hits and they make me happy. I give a lot of college speeches, and usually the Young Spartacus League or the Democrats will put up posters on campus with all the quotes they consider outrageous. But I think they're my best quotes. [LOL]
KW: Well, thanks for the time, Ann. I hope I get added to that short list of reporters you'll interview with again.
AC: Yes, I think you will, Kam. This has been a fun interview.