Before I post on Ann Coulter's remarks on Jews and Christians, I want to point out a bit of personal history. My daughter-in-law, who I love dearly, is Jewish. When my grandson was born, she and my son briefly considered not raising him in any particular religious tradition so that he could choose one when he was older. I, of course, did not say anything but thought that was a mistake. Upon further review, they decided that he should be raised in the Jewish faith. I was greatly relieved by that. It is a far better choice for him. I congratulated them on their wisdom.
I don't say that to show that I am some paragon of tolerance, but to point out that, when it comes to people who I would, quite literally, die for, I think that being a practicing Jew is a very good thing and, like any good grandfather, I think my little Aidan is perfect.
I should also point out that, as is so often the case with Coulter, her flippant way of putting things seems (and maybe is) calculated to give offense. I can't imagine wanting to say what she said in the way that she said it. What I am about to say about the need for us to be willing to take other's ideas seriously and to be willing to listen to them even when we don't like them does presume that those ideas ought to be expressed with some regard for the sensitivity of the audience. I can't really blame people for being annoyed at the suggestion that they need to be "perfected." I also am aware that, when it comes to Jews, many Christians over many years have misunderstood and distorted the proper relation between their faith and Christianity and have expressed it through the evil of anti- semitism. We can't ignore that context even if we want to be funny.
So without letting her off the hook for all that, I want to break down what she said because I think at least some of the outrage about it reflects our inability to take religious ideas seriously and the way in which we think they ought to be circumscribed in public discourse. I am, of course, a little reluctant to use the remarks of a political entertainer as a vehicle to do so. I understand that there is something put on about the little dance that she and Deutsch did. She likes to provoke because it is money. He likes to put on the armor of offense and allow her to provoke because he is an entertainer too. But that's what gets attention nowdays and you work with what you have to.
Did Deutsch need to be so offended? Could she have expressed something of the concepts that she was driving at in a way that would be socially acceptable public discourse?
Ann said that she thinks everyone should be Christian. Is that, in and of itself, offensive? Christianity teaches that God made a unique and critically important revelation in Jesus Christ. Attending to that revelation, we say, is a very good thing. Why would we not want everyone to do it? Even if we believe (as mainstream Christianity also teaches) that non-Christians can be saved and have faith traditions that are important and valued, we also believe that others would benefit by acknowledging and trying to live into that revelation. (Although there is also a strain of thought in Christianity that, because of the unique covenant between God and the Jews, even those Jews who become Christians ought to remain Jews. Paul believed that. So in that sense if Coulter is saying - as Deutsch suggested - that Judaism ought to be thrown away, there may be a further theological problem.)
You are free to disagree and decline that invitation just as I can decline the invitation of others. I know, for example, that Muslims believe that we all should convert to Islam. The new breed of evangelical atheists who keep writing books think that we should all abandon belief in God. I think both groups are wrong, but they don't offend me and I don't assume that the statement of their views is hateful.
As far as the "perfected" part, that is, of course, overly simple and needlessly provocative. It also implies (although I don't think she meant) that Christians are more valued by God and I don't find that anywhere in my religion. But, of course, Christians believe that God's revelation in Christ was a fulfilment of a promise to the Jews and is a step forward in and even a completion of humanity's understanding of and relation to God, freeing us from the yoke of the law. Although to call that a "fast track" hardly does it justice, it certainly could be called a perfection - not of people - but of that relationship. (And is, if you believe inconsequential Christians like the Pope and lions of theology like Karl Barth, a perfection that benefits everyone.)
My point here is not to defend Ann Coulter. I don't really care about what anyone thinks of her and she seems quite able to take care of herself. I think that we should, out of common courtesy and in order to be taken seriously, phrase things in a way that communicates respect for others. My point is to say that people ought to be able to express what they believe and not have everyone go off in spasms of offense because they don't accept it. While I realize that how we say things is an important part of making that happen, I also think, again, that we should be slower to outrage.