The society of victims

Posted: Jun 22, 2006 12:01 AM
Ann Coulter certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest when she accused the so-called Jersey Girls of wallowing in their widowhood. Tim Rutten, the resident media critic for the L.A. Times, accused Coulter of being cruel and tasteless. He was so outraged by what she had written and said about the quartet that, in a frenzy of self-righteousness, he then went on to describe her as a gaunt 45-year-old, an “ingénue with fangs,” and summed up her appeal as pornographic, likening it to “black leather and Nazi paraphernalia” which “have a kind of iconic status in the sadomasochistic subcultures inclined toward fetishism.” Talk about cruel and tasteless! And, frankly, it sounds to me like Mr. Rutten has dipped more than his toe into this nether world about which he writes so knowingly.

For the record, I completely agree with Coulter. It’s deliberate and it’s cynical the way that liberals keep dragging out these people to espouse their leftist agenda, counting on their status as victims to not only add gravitas to their partisan drivel, but to ward off legitimate criticism.

The Jersey Girls, who might easily be mistaken for the Dixie Chicks if they could carry a tune, are only the most recent examples. We have also had Cindy Sheehan, the woman who dumped husband and young son in order to pursue her passion for nutball politics. When her soldier son, who had re-upped to do a second tour of duty in Iraq, was killed, she decided to cash in on her status as a gold star mother. Alive, she’d had no time for him, but, once dead, she wore him like a Congressional Medal of Honor.

We shouldn’t forget Michael Berg, much as we might like to. Just when you figured he’d fallen off the radar, the father of Nick Berg was dragged back into the spotlight as soon as Zarqawi was killed. While normal people were celebrating the occasion, Mr. Berg got to repeat his mantra that it’s actually George Bush who’s the butcher of Baghdad, even though it was Zarqawi who hacked off his son’s head. When asked how he felt about Zarqawi’s execution, the sanctimonious Mr. Berg, the Green Party’s candidate for Delaware’s lone congressional seat, said, “I have learned to forgive a long time ago.” He means he’s forgiven the man who murdered his son, but not the president of the United States. Hard to imagine that even the Greenies couldn’t do better than this guy. If I were running a dating service, I’d make every effort to introduce him to Ms. Sheehan. They’d make a lovely couple.

The Jersey Girls first got our attention when they announced that the government’s $1.6 million payoff in the wake of 9/11 wasn’t nearly enough to assuage their grief. Personally, I never understood why the survivors of that tragic event had anything beyond the amount of their loved one’s life insurance policy coming to them. Since when did being in the wrong place at the wrong time entitle one’s spouse to win the lottery? There were heroes on 9/11, and I would have the federal piggy bank cracked open to help their survivors, but they weren’t wearing suits and ties, and working in the Twin Towers; they were easily recognized, though, because they were wearing badges and guns or steel helmets with NYFD printed on them.

In America, we have a way of confusing victims with heroes. Part of it can be blamed on all the tabloid journalism that infests the popular media. Go on TV and spill your guts about your addiction to drugs, booze or sex, and you can count on the studio audience, and one assumes the folks at home, reacting as if you’d come up with a cure for cancer.

Or consider Coretta Scott King. For all I know, she may have been a nice woman. But the fact is, as Reverend King’s wife, she got to stay home with the kids while her husband ran off and, apparently with a regularity Bill Clinton couldn’t help but admire, cheated on her with other women. But no sooner was he killed than the widow got to assume the mantle of martyrdom, not to mention complete moral authority. She became not only the keeper of the flame, but the executor of his literary estate. And as such, the lady made people pay through the nose any time they wanted to quote a line from one of his speeches. Even, as I recall, once when the line was meant to appear on a memorial in his honor.

I hate to be cynical, but in her case, as with the Jersey Girls, widowhood proved to be a good career move.