June 7, 2006 — -- They've been fighting to let their husbands' vicious deaths not be in vain, and now some widows of 9/11 are fighting what many believe are vicious words.
A group of the 9/11 widows have responded to comments made about them by conservative pundit Ann Coulter, who has publicly denounced them as "witches" and "harpies."
Coulter's attack on the widows gained attention after she appeared on the "Today" show yesterday to promote her new book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism." On the show, she sparred with host Matt Lauer about comments she made in her book about women who lost their husbands in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"I've never seen people enjoy their husbands' deaths so much," she writes in the book.
Coulter is a lightning rod for criticism from her more left-leaning media counterparts. Political bloggers have nicknamed her "Blonde Satan" and "Fascist Barbie," but many conservatives hail her as a crusader for truth, unafraid to take unpopular stands publicly.
Coulter's critics have accused her of unabashed publicity mongering who is trying to boost book sales. But several of the widows who have spoken out publicly against her say they would like to use their latest spotlight productively.
They say they want to shift the public outcry away from Coulter and her inflammatory remarks and toward shortcomings in national security, and remind us that, in their opinion, we are still a nation at risk.
"Contrary to Ms. Coulter's statements, there was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive," said Kristin Breitweiser on behalf of the widows in a statement. "There was no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. ... It is in their honor and memory that we will once again refocus the nation's attention to the real issues at hand: our lack of security, leadership and progress in the five years since 9/11."
In "Godless," Coulter writes that a group of widows who've become known as the Jersey girls do not have the right to criticize the government's failures that may have led to the attacks.
"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV ... reveling in their status as celebrities," she writes. "These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them."
In the book, she is referring to Kristin Breitweiser, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza, who bonded after their husbands died in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. They helped push for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, which criticized both the Clinton and Bush administrations for not taking the threat of terrorism more seriously.
This is not the first time the right-wing writer has catapulted herself in the headlines with outrageous comments. She has claimed American liberals are all guilty of treason. And in the aftermath of 9/11, issued a war cry against the Middle East: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
On Tuesday night, Coulter appeared on Fox News Channel's "Hannity and Colmes" whose conservative host, Sean Hannity, described her polarizing effect and uncanny ability to enrage liberals.
"I share most of your views," Hannity said. "But ... when I mention your name to liberals they melt. You are like Alka-Seltzer in water. They bubble, fizz, give off their energy. You are the anti-Christ to them."