Sunday, September 11, 2016

The 9/11 Column that got Ann Coulter Fired from National Review

This is war

Ann Coulter's piece, "This is War," appeared in the September 17, 2001 issue of National Review.

It was the last column she would write for that magazine.

The column was in part an elegy to her friend Barbara Olson, who died in the plane that hit the Pentagon, and in part a sort of manifesto on how we should view and react to 9/11. In my view, it was a great piece. I agreed then and I agree now with with every word of it. And I think it's just as relevant now, if not more relevant, than it was fifteen years ago.

I continued to subscribe to National Review for a few years after 9/11. In hindsight, I'm not sure why. I just reread, "L'Affaire Coulter," Jonah Goldberg's explanation, a few issues later, of why they dropped Coulter's column, and it drips with cowardly disingenuousness.

Goldberg claimed that National Review didn't fire Coulter - she fired herself after writing a bad column. The magazine's negative feelings towards the column had nothing to do with the political sentiments expressed but rather with the particular column's "sloppiness of expression and thought" and "crappy writing." The column - that one column! - showed that Coulter had "failed as a writer" and thus needed to be censured. Goldberg went on to condemn a follow-up piece that they refused to publish as a "long, rambling rant" that was "barely coherent" and then prissily snipped about his (former) columnist's public "behavior."   

All of that was baloney of course. National Review didn't want to be considered "Islamophobic," so they caved to the bad guys and smeared Ann Coulter.

Looking back, the controversy over Coulter and her column might be seen as a preview of the differences between establishment conservatism and what some have called the "Alt-Right."

It had nothing to do with international trade.

Rereading the column, one is struck by how Coulter so accurately sketched the self-absorbed defeatist attitude that she could see forming even in the heady - "let's declare war against the world!" - climate of late September, 2001.

Fifteen years later, there are terrorist attacks every day, most often in the Middle-East, but sometimes in Europe or the United States. There are terror networks, busy planning new 9/11's in every capital of Western Europe. And what Coulter called "fanatical murderous cults" control large swaths of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria and a number of other countries.

But against all that, even the War on Terror, which Coulter implied was itself a gross mislabeling, has faded into a twilight struggle with "lone wolves" and the mentally-ill. The current President and the woman in his party who wants to replace him are literally inviting into the country thousands of the same people who "cheered and danced" on 9/11 or who "smiled in response to the annihilation of patriots like Barbara Olson." And if you disagree with any of this and are publicly exposed, there's a good chance you'll lose your job or at least have your next job offer rescinded.

Yes, Coulter was right. It is war. There are soldiers, spies and of course collaborators - the full contingent, as in any war. Unfortunately, one side has still declined to participate.                  
By Ann Coulter 
Barbara Olson kept her cool. In the hysteria and terror of hijackers herding passengers to the rear of the plane, she retrieved her cell phone and called her husband, Ted, the solicitor general of the United States. She informed him that he had better call the FBI (news - web sites) -- the plane had been hijacked. 
According to reports, Barbara was still on the phone with Ted when her plane plunged in a fiery explosion directly into the Pentagon (news - web sites). Barbara risked having her neck slit to warn the country of a terrorist attack. She was a patriot to the very end. 
This is not to engage in the media's typical hallucinatory overstatement about anyone who is the victim of a horrible tragedy. The furtive cell phone call was an act of incredible daring and panache. If it were not, we'd be hearing reports of a hundred more cell phone calls. (Even people who swear to hate cell phones carry them for commercial air travel.) 
The last time I saw Barbara in person was about three weeks ago. She generously praised one of my recent columns and told me I had really found my niche. Ted, she said, had taken to reading my columns aloud to her over breakfast. 
I mention that to say three things about Barbara. First, she was really nice. A lot of people on TV seem nice, but aren't. (And some who don't seem nice, are.) But Barbara was always her charming, graceful, ebullient self. "Nice" is an amazingly rare quality among writers. In the opinion business, bitter, jealous hatred is the norm. Barbara had reason to be secure. 
Second, it was actually easy to imagine Ted reading political columns aloud to Barbara at the breakfast table. Theirs was a relationship that could only be cheaply imitated by Bill and Hillary -- the latter being a subject of Barbara's appropriately biting best seller, "Hell to Pay." 
Hillary claimed preposterously in the Talk magazine interview that she discussed policy with Bill while cutting his grapefruit in the morning. Ted and Barbara really did talk politics -- and really did have breakfast together. 
It's "Ted and Barbara" just like it's Fred and Ginger, and George and Gracie. They were so perfect together, so obvious, that their friends were as happy they were on their wedding day. This is more than the death of a great person and patriotic American. It's a human amputation. 
Third, since Barbara's compliment, I've been writing my columns for Ted and Barbara. I'm always writing to someone in my head. Now I don't know who to write to. Ted and Barbara were a good muse. 
Apart from hearing that this beautiful light has been extinguished from the world, only one other news flash broke beyond the numbingly omnipresent horror of the entire day. That evening, CNN reported that bombs were dropping in Afghanistan (news - web sites) -- and then updated the report to say they weren't our bombs. 
They should have been ours. I want them to be ours. 
This is no time to be precious about locating the exact individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist attack. Those responsible include anyone anywhere in the world who smiled in response to the annihilation of patriots like Barbara Olson. 
We don't need long investigations of the forensic evidence to determine with scientific accuracy the person or persons who ordered this specific attack. We don't need an "international coalition." We don't need a study on "terrorism." We certainly didn't need a congressional resolution condemning the attack this week. 
The nation has been invaded by a fanatical, murderous cult. And we welcome them. We are so good and so pure we would never engage in discriminatory racial or "religious" profiling. 
People who want our country destroyed live here, work for our airlines, and are submitted to the exact same airport shakedown as a lumberman from Idaho. This would be like having the Wehrmacht immigrate to America and work for our airlines during World War II. Except the Wehrmacht was not so bloodthirsty. 
"All of our lives" don't need to change, as they keep prattling on TV. Every single time there is a terrorist attack -- or a plane crashes because of pilot error -- Americans allow their rights to be contracted for no purpose whatsoever. 
The airport kabuki theater of magnetometers, asinine questions about whether passengers "packed their own bags," and the hostile, lumpen mesomorphs ripping open our luggage somehow allowed over a dozen armed hijackers to board four American planes almost simultaneously on Bloody Tuesday. (Did those fabulous security procedures stop a single hijacker anyplace in America that day?) 
Airports scrupulously apply the same laughably ineffective airport harassment to Suzy Chapstick as to Muslim hijackers. It is preposterous to assume every passenger is a potential crazed homicidal maniac. We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. 
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.


  1. Aside from the carpet bombing part I am in full agreement with Ann.

    One thing we can do is stop using their oil ASAP and use all the anti-terrorist methods Israel uses immediately.

  2. I am not a Coulter fan, but I am still astonished that she got fired for this column.

    1. If you haven't already, read Goldberg's explanation (linked to above) and see what you think.

  3. If Jonah Goldberg fired and smeared Ann Coulter for fear of having National Review viewed as Islamophobic, it might be said he was just observing a precedent set by National Review’s founder and former editor-in-chief, William F. Buckley Jr.

    Buckley did the same to Joe Sobran in 1993, although his concern then differed slightly. It was done to allay perceptions that National Review might be anti-Semitic—even at the expense of smearing an old friend.

    1. Yeah. I was a subscriber then I remember agreeing with Buckley. (How could he be wrong in a three-part 30,000 word essay? :) ) I would still disagree with that aspect of Sobran's politics, but now firing someone for that seems, as you imply, cowardly and disloyal.

      By the way, it might have been more accurate for me to say that NR was worried about being perceived as "racist," rather than "Islamophobic." I'm not sure the term even existed then.

    2. Whether anachronistic or not, your use of “Islamophobic” was simply more precise than “racist” or “bigot” would have been, and appeared not out of place at all to me.

      As for your disagreeing with “that aspect” of Sobran’s politics, it seems worth noting that he made it easy to disagree with him based in no small part on his uncommon, beautifully clear style of writing. Would that Buckley had chosen only to engage him based on their respective political differences, rather than descend into innuendo and smear—a tactic more commonly associated with the Left. A least that’s how I have finally come to see it all these years after the fact. The tangle of complicating factors notwithstanding, it strikes me as a significant black mark on an otherwise admirable and distinguished legacy.

      Happily, it was reported that the two men reconciled before Buckley’s death in 2008.

      As this has devolved into a tangent (my apologies), let me close with an attempt to return to the original focus of the post by mentioning that Sobran happened to be a close correspondent with Ann Coulter, who credits aspects of her style to his influence.

    3. Thank you. That's very interesting. I tend to think of Sobran as someone from a very different generation, but he was only 16 years older than Coulter. He died relatively young at 64, and I think he always looked older than he was. When I was reading him in the 1980's and 1990's I always imagined him as an old guy but he was only in his 40's.

  4. I am in agreement with every word Ann Coulter wrote in this column, but did not know she was fired for it. We can watch things go sour in our church, and that has been rough, but I have to say, it is far worse watching our nation cower in the face of Islam, being too polite and timid to state the obvious facts, and watch so many Americans just parrot liberal talking points. It's nothing but evil, on the part of this diabolical president, to fill this nation with Muslims, it's his parting shot. And all the people who support it, one man the other day telling me to not allow them in "is not who we are", the insane talking point of the jackass Obama and his's enough to make one go mad. There is a demonic malaise, intractable ignorance, or something, that is preventing people from seeing the obvious and definite results we can look forward to after we import the enemy by the thousands. What unmitigated and fatal foolishness.

  5. I thought it ironic that I supported both Coulter and Derbyshire in their firings despite not being big fans of either. NRO does have a history of firing popular writers. Mark Steyn I think quit before Sterots could fire him. Only Florence King survived the 00s -but, she retired. I don't think the Florence King of the 80s or 90s would have survived in this milieu.

    Speaking of NR. I stopped subscribing to them after Sobran's firing. I rarely visit their online publication

  6. Yes; Imagine using Ethical Oil from North America how even quicker than the Two Terms of the Oil Industry, American & European, proces collapsed when fracking quatrupled North American fuel.

    Just think How the complict Jonah was in the Word Change from Oil Sands to Tar Sands was used to support the Rockefellers; The Bush Family and George Soros' string pullers.
    Do you really believe the Enlightenment Principle of North American Society provides Greater Ethical support for meeting the requirements of Sustainity of the Globe?---Me Too.

  7. Ann is pretty tame.

    Carpet bombing is thinking too small.

    We should be thinking nuclear genocide with some nerve gas to finish them off.