Ann Coulter and the R Word Ride Again!

planet of the blind

In her book In Trump We Trust Ann Coulter has a chapter entitled: “Disabled Reporter Joins Media Effort to Create More Disabled Americans” (a giddy and generously flatulent title indeed) in which she writes about “The Donald’s” famous on camera imitation of NY Times reporter Serge Kovaleski who in fact, wait for it, is genuinely disabled. With the video rolling Trump made claws of his hands, flapped his arms and directly referenced Mr. Kovaleski. Coulter writes:

Trump denied knowing that Serge was disabled, and demanded an apology, saying that anyone could see his imitation was of a flustered, frightened reporter, not a disabled person. It’s true that Trump was not mimicking any mannerisms that Serge has. He doesn’t jerk around or flail his arms. He’s not retarded. He sits calmly, but if you look at his wrists, you’ll see they are curved in. That’s not the imitation Trump was doing—he was doing a standard retard, waving his arms and sounding stupid: “’Ahhh, I don’t know what I said—ahhh, I don’t remember!’ He’s going, ‘Ahhh, I don’t remember, maybe that’s what I said!’” 

Even a casual fact check showed that Trump did indeed know Kovaleski. His cruel pantomime was exact. It was vicious. Now Coulter wants us to believe that this was OK because Trump’s gesture wasn’t about a particular instance of disability—instead Trump was making fun of everyone who’s critical of him—they’re all imbeciles. And, according to Coulter, to make his point, lest his audience not be sufficiently alert, well, Trump just had to flap his arms and slur his speech and start babbling. Yes, he was doing a “standard retard” and apparently, according to Coulter, this makes the nefarious business OK.

As a disabled American I know a great deal about the “Standard Retard Complex.” Blind, wandering the playgrounds of childhood I was routinely called retarded and beaten by bullies who loved the “R” word—moreover the “R” word was always their opening gambit as even a six year old knows that once you’ve called a person “retarded” you’re free to do anything you want to him. You can dismiss him. You can punch him. You can push him down flights of stairs. You can put gum in his hair. You can poke him with sticks. You can push him to the ground and rub snow in his ears. You can follow him down the street chanting the foul poetry of scorn.

The examples above are entirely my own—I was a retard Ann. And to acknowledge your point dear Coulter-geist, they waved their arms and slurred their speech as they abused me.

For a disabled audience none of this is news. The disabled experience this and continue to experience it. Just last week a friend and colleague of mine who has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in Anthropology and is a noted human rights activist was followed in downtown Syracuse by a gaggle of boys as he made his way with his wheelchair. You guessed it. They called him a retard. Have you ever attempted to get away from bullies in a wheelchair? Have you ever tried to elude them when you’re blind?

“Standard Retard” is a lubricious phrase, oily, arousing ugly passion. For Coulter there’s nothing wrong with it—it’s no different than saying: “I’m gonna fuck you hard like you’ve never been fucked before, baby!” Hey! What’s wrong with that? That’s how tough men talk and tough women like it. Why I’ll bet retards would like it too if only they understood it. Duh! Wiggle arms. Make drooling mouth. Maybe drag a foot. The crowd loves it!

One suspects Coulter loves “retard jokes.” As a Retardologist I’ve heard them all.

Q. How do you get Ann Coulter to shut up?

A. Ask her about the etymology of the R word.

It of course originally meant to keep someone from doing something.




Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

4 thoughts on “Ann Coulter and the R Word Ride Again!”

  1. Thank you, Stephen. You really helped me think some things through here. I’m also noticing how Coulter’s response separates out intellectual disability from physical disability–it’s not OK to make fun of the latter but it is OK to make fun of the former. Thanks. Betsy


  2. So sad that ableism is so rampant and invisible at the same time to so many. How can it be acceptable to make fun of anyone for something they do not choose? Bullying is a horrible habit! And that’s all Ann Coulter is—a bully.


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