As a proud student of this university, my list of alumni I don’t like is not very long. There is, of course, the Unabomber – bombing universities and airlines will do that to a person. There’s John DeLorean, who, after designing the car in “Back to the Future,” was hounded by the FBI because he decided cocaine was, in the words of Rick James, “one helluva drug.”
There are others on the list, your typical blend of murderers and overall scumbags. Now I’d like to add another person to this list – Ann Coulter. I’m pretty sure Coulter isn’t a murderer. She hasn’t raped anyone or even been arrested for heroin smuggling, but she definitely is a scumbag. She has made this list not because she’s a conservative, but simply because she’s an idiot. In fact, her recent behavior now leads me to make a request on behalf of the entire University community: Ann, please give back your degree.
Coulter most recently stirred up a controversy with her new book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” In it, she takes aim at, among other things, four New Jersey widows who lost their husbands on Sept. 11, and then criticized President George W. Bush. Then, in an appearance on NBC’s “The Today Show,” she told host Matt Lauer that she’s “never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”
As inflammatory and unnecessary as such statements are, they do not alone constitute cause for having her Juris Doctorate returned. Coulter is perceived as a celebrity because of her crass, rude and often offensive diatribes, which lead to large book sales. But her law degree from the University also allows her to be perceived as a scholar. In light of these facts, her degree must be returned because her statements in the book and in the media make her anything but a scholar.
From what I hear, the chapter on evolution is easily reason enough for her to give back her degree. We all have differing opinions on the war against terrorism, affirmative action, capitalism, abortion, school vouchers, etc. All of these issues have at least two sides and each is reasonable, depending on who you talk to.
Evolution, however – regardless of what the religious radicals in their ivory towers say – does not have two legitimate sides. There is the side that reads and believes the vast amount of scientific data supporting evolution, and then there is the side that refuses to trust anything not written in the Book of Genesis.
You would assume someone who was a member of the prestigious Order of the Coif honor society in law school would have enough sense to see through the religious dogma and malarkey that plagues the anti-evolution movement. Assumptions, however, are the mother of all screw-ups.
Ann rails against evolution as part of her war on liberalism, which she dubs a religion. Specifically, she views evolution as a myth because there’s no evidence to back it up, and because science continues to disprove it.
All of this is, of course, complete nonsense. With few exceptions, scientists accept evolution. The idea that organisms change over time in response to selection factors is well-supported by evidence. How else does one explain the presence of independent circular DNA in mitochondria that’s separate from the genome? Is it really too complex to have just evolved from the symbiotic relationship between two different kinds of cells? That’s logistical laziness. Imagine if Sir Isaac Newton said that the apple is too complex to have fallen from the tree on its own, so an “intelligent designer” must have kicked it down to the ground.
Being educated at the University, Coulter should have been able to read the articles and determine that currently there is no better way to explain the diversity of life than evolution. She hasn’t. Instead, she sticks to her own provincial religious beliefs about the world and dismisses evolution as just another liberal conspiracy. It’s because of “ideas” like hers that concepts like evolution are framed in a liberal-conservative or religious-atheist context. They have no real reason to be viewed as such.
It is because of her foolish and naive beliefs that I must ask her to return the degree she received from the University. If Ann Coulter wants to be offensive, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and most of all, stupid, I wouldn’t dream of stopping her. She just shouldn’t do under the title of “University of Michigan alum.”
Goldberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.