People keep telling me that I don’t understand Ann Coulter’s tone: that she speaks tongue in cheek, deliberately exaggerating her point so as to make us think.
Well, here is what I think about her piece Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to Idiotic. As is often the case with a Coulter piece, it’s hard to tell what her main thesis is, so I’ll just focus on one paragraph:
If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.
It seems that she believes that Dr. Brantly, who is a medical doctor, has some mysterious power as a Christian to evangelize “Hollywood power-brokers,” and it’s only his vanity (“Christian narcissism,” she calls it) that sent him off to the third world with his medical supplies, rather than — what, trotting up to Quentin Tarrantino’s gate, introducing himself as an M.D., and suggesting that Mr. Tarantino repent? And this would have been more effective than ministering to the dying in Liberia.
Let me explain something. The man is a medical doctor. He heals people’s bodies. He apparently felt the call to go far, far out of his way to minister to people in horrible need of his expert help. This is, in general, how good people operate: rather than always doing what is obvious or easy, and rather than doing something they are neither suited, nor trained, nor able to do, they do what they think they are being called to do.
Was Dr. Brantly truly called to travel to Africa and work with ebola patients? Who knows? That’s between him and God. But Coulter seems to believe that the very act of stepping across the border marks an unforgivable sin of . . . pride, I guess? Show-offiness?
But that short paragraph of hers contains a second, even more hideous idea. Coulter says,
Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.
Yes, isn’t that just like those benighted third world ninnies? So obsessed with this childish, petty desire to stay alive. Why can’t they think about important matters, like the spiritual state of people watching movies in America? No, all the time it’s, “Wah, wah, my eyes are bleeding” with them. Ugh, foreigners.
Here’s the deal, for anyone who thinks Colter is kinda sorta mean, but kinda sorta has a point: yes, it is true that there is such a thing as missionaries who do more harm than good. Yes, it is true that some people claim to be serving God, but really they’re just trying to make themselves look good.
Is there any evidence that Dr. Brantly is guilty of any of that? I honestly don’t know. I haven’t been following the story. Coulter doesn’t give any evidence in this piece that she knows any more than I do from reading headlines.
Coulter is playing to the crowd who always say, “Fix America first.” And I always say, “Why?” Are Americans more important than citizens of other countries? Is their suffering more meaningful? If we evangelize them, does their conversion give less glory to God than the conversion of an American? If they die of starvation and disease, do their families grieve less than the families of dead Americans? And if not, then what could possibly be wrong with going to help them in the way that you know how?
Xenophobia is just racism for people who think big. There’s nothing noble about turning your back on people who suffer, even if they’re people who speak a different language or live in places with silly names. If we were all just supposed to hunker down and play to the home crowd, then the apostles themselves were off to a pretty bad start, gallavanting all over Greece and Ethiopia, Persia and Turkey. Didn’t they realize there were still some people back home — their own countrymen — who could have used their help?
For that matter, why couldn’t Jesus just stay put? I guess he never heard of Fix Bethlehem First. Instead, He had drag Himself all the way to Jerusalem, and then climb all the way up on a hill, and then all the way up on that cross, as if to say, “Look at me! I’m saving everybody!” And meanwhile, I suppose His mother and his friends had to think about the hotel bills, the travel expenses . . .
Talk about a Christian narcissist. Yeah, Dr. Brantly is just like that. What an idiot.