Magazine article The American Prospect

Rationalizing Trump: Coulter Threads Her Way between the Koch Brothers, Alt-Right, and Paul Ryan

Magazine article The American Prospect

Rationalizing Trump: Coulter Threads Her Way between the Koch Brothers, Alt-Right, and Paul Ryan

Article excerpt





Ann Coulter was alt-right before the alt-right was a thing. Always one to sense a trend in the right's rumblings and ride it on the wings of outrage and outrageousness, Coulter, in her latest book, In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!, is eager to prove all of that, and then some. But for a moment there, her book launch was off to a rocky start.

A slender volume of repetitious invective against non-white immigrants, In Trump We Trust bases its case for the candidacy of the reality-show star and real-estate player almost solely on his promise to deport all undocumented immigrants, and to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. Then, the week in which Coulter was to begin her book tour, word came that Trump was to make a "pivot" on his immigration stance, perhaps "softening" his promise to create a "deportation force" that would round up an estimated 11 million people and send them back to their countries of origin.

On August 24, Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he might be able to work something out for undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for the better part of their lives. "It's a very, very hard thing," Trump said, to contemplate such deportations.

Coulter, whose book had just been published the day before, took to Twitter, heaping scorn upon her candidate. "Well, if it's 'hard,' then nevermind," Coulter tweeted.

Her worries ultimately proved, of course, to be unfounded. Within a week, just hours after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Trump promised his supporters at a raucous rally in Phoenix, Arizona, that the deportation-force plan was still at the top of his agenda.

Long an opponent of U.S. acceptance of immigrants, especially Muslims and Mexicans, Coulter decided she had finally found her perfect candidate in Donald J. Trump, of whom she was an early supporter. Cut from the same cloth, both Trump and Coulter are children of privilege who lunge for attention by transgressing the norms of civil behavior. Trump's July 2015 announcement of his presidential bid included his now-famous attack on undocumented Mexicans entering the United States: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." Coulter was in. Trump, she told Hannity during a January appearance on Fox News, "won me over with that Mexican rapist speech."

Trump's speech could have come straight out of the pages of Coulter, whose June 2015 book, Adios, America! The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole, devotes several chapters to advancing the notion that Mexicans are preternatural rapists. (Trump tweeted that Coulter's book was "a great read.")

Coulter has built her career on stoking the resentments of right-leaning whites who fear the cultural changes that emerged after World War II. Name one, and she has found a way to exploit it: Movements for racial equality, women's rights and LGBT rights, and immigration. Throw in a pinch of anti-Semitism, and you have the Coulter formula.

Employing a contrarian expression of these resentments, Coulter achieved pop-culture stardom. Where other right-wing darlings wore a mantle of Christian propriety, Coulter declared herself a Christian while using louche language and wearing a skimpy dress. (From the podium of the 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference, she famously said, "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so [I'm] kind of [at] an impasse ...") As conservatives decried "a coarsening of the culture," Coulter jumped on the coarsening trend, consequently laying bare the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny of the movement she represents, thereby paving the way for the normalization of the "white nationalist" entities that form the alt-right. …

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