The first time it happened, I honestly thought it was a Democratic National Committee or Obama email trying to be funny. You know how Obama’s emails sometimes come from other people, like David Plouffe and Michelle Obama? Well, when I saw the sender as “Ann Coulter,” I was sure it was just a bad DNC joke. I deleted it without opening it.
When it happened again, I deleted it again. That’s weird, I thought. Ann Coulter, for those of you somehow blissfully unaware, is about as vitriolic and downright awful a right wing pundit as you can find. She says things like, “If you wanted to teach people about the great things about America, a college campus is the last place you’d send them. Even fanatical Muslim terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do,” and, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.” These are direct quotes.
So, yeah, not exactly my cup of tea. Certainly not someone I’d want to hear from on a regular basis. I don’t mind a thinking conservative, but a deliberately inflammatory one just wastes everyone’s time. And yet, in they came the Ann Coulter emails, with semi-frequency, always saying something intensely stupid and offensive and counterproductive to a rational dialogue. My hypothesis at this point is that some Republican friend of mine decided to subscribe me, perhaps as a joke. (Or a particularly twisted Democratic friend of mine. Who knows?). Either that or Ann Coulter is a big fat spammer.
I clicked through to unsubscribe. And then it occurred to me: I rarely watch the news anymore. I don’t much indulge myself in listening to the rhetoric of hate. I am all the better for it. But I’d come to welcome Ann Coulter’s emails in a weird way, as a reminder that there really is an element in humanity that wants to destroy instead of build and inflame instead of bring together. Not my chosen path, but one worth noting. So I closed out the unsubscribe window and let the emails keep coming.
These days, I still rarely read the Ann Coulter emails when they come in. I mostly delete them. But they never fail to give me a jolt, a reminder that I should be as much of a force for goodness and understanding in the world as I can be. Because there really are people who don’t care how much we’re divided. Who profit from it, actually. And that is something we all need to work together to stop.