If you had one guess as to who wrote a new book titled “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” what would that guess be? Yep – it’s that hostile and embittered poster girl of everything that is wrong with present-day political dialogue, Ann Coulter. Her latest addition to the literary hotspot that has become the “liberals-hate-our-freedom” section of your local bookstore will no doubt build upon divisive, polarizing and irrational storylines outlined in previous books from the far right. But as if questioning the patriotism of fellow Americans based on their political ideology isn’t enough, Coulter goes the extra mile in her new book by actually decrying widows of the men who died on Sept. 11, criticizing them for taking advantage of their husbands’ deaths.

Sarah Royce

In an interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show, Coulter, the barefaced, angry neo-con commentator we’re sad to report is an alum of the University’s School of Law, pulled no punches and actually went even further in her criticisms of the widows. Discussing a passage from her book that brands them “self-obsessed” women “lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzies,” it failed to dawn on poor Ms. Coulter that perhaps, just perhaps, a person has the right to speak out about the deaths of their loved ones. You’d think she would get that, given that even her usual brothers in inimical arms, like MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, refuse to stand by her on this one.

The expected firestorm surrounding Ms. Coulter’s incendiary comments aside, the rhetoric the author employs goes to the root of the problem with our current debate-stifling political atmosphere, which is fed by demagogues on both sides of the political spectrum. While this sort of hyperbolic tantrum has become customary for a shock artist as experienced as Ms. Coulter, the real question we should ask in the wake of her rant and its subsequent controversy is how it applies to many issues in the political forum today. By relying on extreme and polarizing rhetoric to get a point of view across, many public figures have contributed to a political climate where there is no room for healthy debate about real issues. An onslaught of partisanship and party-line attacks take its place, while the initial starting point for the discussion gets lost in the mix. Debate on the core issues that shape the political sphere today is essential, and such divisive, fanatic dialogue has no place in this discussion.

As outraged reports on Coulter’s attacks pervade the national media, perhaps it’s time we take a step back and simply address her comments for what they are: belligerent, unfounded and extreme. Politicians and onlookers of every political persuasion would do well to learn from her flagrant example, and remember that as citizens of an open-forum democracy, we have a responsibility, not just a right, to debate fairly and critically about the issues that define our political atmosphere.

Is that really all that “godless”?

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