Yes, you read it correctly. Jambands.com features an interview with the notorious right-wing, violently motivated pundit Ann Coulter, author of frighteningly inhumane conservative-themed political commentaries including Treason, Slander, and Godless: The Church of Liberalism. The subject: Coulter’s days following the Grateful Dead. And yes, she refers to herself as a Deadhead.
That’s cool. As with GLBT people, Deadheads are everywhere. We come from all walks and schools of thought. Plenty of those who talked peace and love back in the day are now GOP assholes with massive stock portfolios, very little interest in the well-being of humankind, and great taste in music. It happens. I hear from someone who knew Coulter in the late 1970s and early ’80s — oh, you have to read his reminiscences! — that she was rigid and unfeeling even then (though not completely so), and she apparently believed that the members of the Grateful Dead were more conservative than they let on. (Of course, as Paul Simon wrote, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.) As Jambands.com’s Taylor Hill writes in a paragraph preceding the interview transcript, “Some of her answers WILL piss people off, but there’s no doubting her tie-dyed credentials – even if the dye is much more red than blue.”
Whatever. There is no ideological litmus test involved in getting on our bus. Everyone’s welcome. Can’t say the same for what Coulter’s vision of what America and the world should be.
Just this little excerpt:
The tie-dye of course. Truth be told I hated tie-dye, though I finally broke down and would wear tie-dyed Dead shirts to concerts solely as a tribute to my fellow Deadheads.
Oddly enough, I like the music. No one believes that I never took drugs at Dead shows (except for the massive clouds of passive marijuana smoke) but I went because I really liked the music. There are various groups I get enthusiastic about for a while, but of all the music I’ve listened to over the years, the Grateful Dead is the one band I never grow tired of. Apparently, the same is true of me for ski-lift operators.
Moreover, I really like Deadheads and the whole Dead concert scene: the tailgating, the tie-dye uniforms, the camaraderie – it was like NASCAR for potheads. You always felt like you were with family at a Dead show – a rather odd, psychedelic family that sometimes lived in a VW bus and sold frightening looking “veggie burritos.” But whatever their myriad interests, clothing choices, and interest in illicit drugs, true Deadheads are what liberals claim to be but aren’t: unique, free-thinking, open, kind, and interested in different ideas. Also, excellent dancers! Watching a Deadhead dance is truly something to behold.
Somewhat contrary to the image of Deadheads as hippies, the Dead were huge in my hometown of New Canaan, CT, which is a pretty preppie town. We toyed with the idea of making “Truckin'” our prom song with a “Long Strange Trip” theme, but we ended up with some dorky rainbow theme instead. I tend to associate the Dead with lacrosse players and my favorite fraternities, Fiji and Theta Delt.
The one time I missed not being able to go to Dead shows more than any other since Jerry died was during the Clinton impeachment. There was so much viciousness – killed cats, punctured tires, threats, investigations and slander against those of us favoring impeachment. … I don’t really care what people say about me – I’m a Christian so there’s nothing anyone can ever do to me – but I kept thinking: “Boy, would I like to go to a Dead show and dance with happy, friendly deadheads for just one night!”
Check out the entire interview. Likely I’ll never be a fan of Coulter’s, but see? This serves as another reminder that there is something positive in everyone you meet, if you look hard enough.
A wee bit more from Convertin’ Coulter on Red Heads:
TH: It’s time to name names. Who are the other Deadheads who have infiltrated the conservative movement?
AC: As a Deadhead and a freedom-lover, I am wounded to the bone that you think the two do not naturally go hand in hand. The Deadheads I just met casually and not through conservative politics were almost always right-thinking, whatever they called themselves. Deadheads believe in freedom – not a government telling people how much water they can have in their toilets or where they can smoke or whether they should be allowed to own a gun. (Remember the photos of Jerry testifying before some Congressional committee while chain smoking? Yeah, he’d really bond with Henry Waxman.) …
Also there was a big Deadhead Christian group that handed out terrific pamphlets at Dead shows. Admittedly, many of them found God staring into a puddle while high on LSD, but whatever the path, they were very serious Christians – they made Jerry Falwell sound like a secularist.
Either Bobby or Jerry was asked by a Rolling Stone interviewer to denounce all the Young Reaganites attending their concerts in the 80s, and whichever one it was not only refused to attack the young Republicans, but said he liked some of those “rightist” ideas. Consider that when the Dead decided to do something to save the Rain Forest, they didn’t harangue poverty-stricken Third Worlders to give up washing machines and electricity. They did it the free market way: buying up parts of the Rain Forest, parcel by parcel. …
After Jerry died, U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI) gave an incredibly touching tribute to Jerry Garcia and the good work the Dead’s Rex Foundation had done promoting the arts privately – in contradistinction to millionaire actresses standing up in $50,000 gowns at the Oscars and demanding that hardworking waitresses and truck drivers be forced to support the arts through government taxation. You can look it up in the Congressional Record.
But to answer your question, Senator, I personally have loads and loads of friends who are right-wingers and Deadheads. I couldn’t possibly name them all. … There are: Peter Flaherty, President, National Legal And Policy Center; John Harrison, top official in the Justice Department under Reagan and Bush and now a law professor at UVA; Jim Moody, MIT grad and libertarian attorney (and Linda Tripp’s lawyer); Gary Lawson, former Scalia clerk and currently a law professor at Boston University Law School; Andrew McBride, partner at a DC law firm; DeRoy Murdoch, conservative columnist; Ben Hart, right-wing author of Poisoned Ivy out of Dartmouth. Oh, and the conservative talk-radio host Gary Stone in Palm Springs is a Deadhead and kindly plays the Dead as my intro music. When I worked at the Justice Department during law school, I’d be leaving with a whole slew of Reagan or Bush political appointees to see the Dead at RFK. Finally, I believe the great New York subway vigilante Bernie Goetz was a Deadhead.
Imagine that. Bernie Goetz, Ann Coulter… and Spousal Unit and me.
My advice: One, read the interview in its entirety (and check out the other link, “Ann Coulter’s 19th Nervous Breakdown” too). Two, be open to hearing all views Listen to what everyone says — even the person you find most reprehensible probably has an interest or two in common with you. If both sides are on equal footing, that is great news: It opens possibilities for friendship or at least civil acquaintance, for building bridges, for establishing some sort of understanding — or, perhaps, for ultimately changing minds. I can’t imagine that the latter outcome is possible when dealing with the supposed She-Devil of the Right Wing, but who knows?