Coulter and Kelly, the Real Issue

by Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

“How many f---ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?” - Ann Coulter.

This controversial rhetorical question posted on the Internet by the outspoken conservative, Ann Coulter, has sparked a frenzy regarding the motivation behind it. Was she perhaps commenting on her assessment of the libido of the Jewish American community and its consequent propagation, politically understood as potential voters? Was she demonstrating her command of languages utilizing the Romanian word for fire, foc, to describe the zeal of the Jews in politics – fiery Jews?

Conversely, was she using the ultimate pejorative in the American English lexicon to berate American Jews? Was it based upon her personal religious faith, a Presbyterian Christian (as she stated on Real Time with Bill Maher, June 19, 2015), the over 3 million members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ascribing to the theological expression of historian Arnold Toynbee’s observation, when unable to fit the Jewish people into his concept of history, claiming “the Jews are a fossilized people.” Interpreted in theological terms as Replacement Theology, which has it that the Jews have been “replaced” by Christianity and are no longer the chosen People. Or is Ann Coulter a dyed in the wool anti-Semite?

This may surprise you – I don’t give a fig about Coulter’s remark. My concern is manifest regarding the interview of Ann Coulter on the Fox News program, “The Kelly File”, and Megyn Kelly’s reaction to her disgusting statement.

Beginning the interview by sharing Coulter’s vile remark and the negative response to it from both the left and the right. Kelly asked Coulter, “So do you want to take it back?” Coulter’s immediate response was “no.” She then began to qualify her answer by saying that perhaps the remark would have been better directed toward the Evangelical community, note – no pejorative used for the Evangelicals.

My English teacher in eighth grade, Gertrude C. Keys, made me keenly aware of the parts of speech by teaching us how to diagram sentences. I was required to designate the subject and the predicate the nouns, pronouns, adjectives and adverbs. The concern levied by all regarding Coulter’s remark had nothing to do with the issue of who she should have leveled it against or if in fact it had any merit. Rather the critiques leveled concerned the ADJECTIVE she used to modify the NOUN Jews – the most widely used pejorative in American English today. Kelly, usually a very good interviewer who gets to the root of the matter simply avoided the salient issue in Coulter’s remark and moved on to another subject.

The first thought that came to my mind was the 1961 movie, “Judgment at Nuremberg.” For those unfamiliar with the movie, here is a brief review.

“After the end of World War II, the world gradually became aware of the full extent of the war crimes perpetrated by the Third Reich. In 1948, a series of trials were held in Nuremberg, Germany, by an international tribunal, headed by American legal and military officials, with the intent of bringing to justice those guilty of crimes against humanity. However, by that time most of the major figures of the Nazi regime were either dead or long missing, and in the resulting legal proceedings American judges often found themselves confronting the question of how much responsibility someone held who had ‘just followed orders.’ Judgment at Nuremberg is a dramatized version of the proceedings at one of these trials, in which Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) is overseeing the trials of four German judges – most notably Dr. Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) and Emil Hahn (Werner Klemperer) – accused of knowingly sentencing innocent men to death in collusion with the Nazis.”

The most intriguing aspect of this movie was the fascination the American, Judge Haywood (Spencer Tracy), had with the motivations of the famous German jurist, Dr. Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster), whose brilliant legal decisions were well-known to Haywood. Haywood could not understand how such a man deeply committed to human rights and freedom as evidenced by these decisions would be complicit in the horrific activities of the Nazi regime. Eventually, in a magnificent speech, Judge Janning explains what had transpired and defines himself as “human excrement.” He admits he knew at the outset, what Hitler was all about but remained silent because Hitler gave renewed pride to the German people after the humiliation they suffered at Versailles. The price of the lives of a few Jews were of little consequence. In the end, he thought Hitler would be rejected by the sophisticated German people. When that didn’t happen, it was too late for him to do anything about it.

Of course Megan Kelly is no internationally recognized jurist, and we’re not talking about a society similar to the Germany of Post-World War I, or are we? The patriotism of my youth has waned. Government is seen as unresponsive to the needs of the people by many of all political stripes. The economy has been in the doldrums for years with no bright future ahead for our youth. As in post-World War I Germany, there is a growing need to find someone to blame – a scapegoat. Is it the liberal big spending politicians, or Wall Street and the uber rich, or the influential lobbyists, or is it a particular grouping of individuals?

Why did not Kelly immediately pounce upon Coulter when she refused to take back her remark about the “f---ing Jews”? Why? Am I not correct in assuming that Kelly would have reacted immediately and decisively if that adjective, that pejorative, was fixed to the words Blacks, Hispanics, Gays or Muslims? Why didn’t she react?