Retract This, Please, Part 1

In times of national emergency, people can get excited and say or write unusually stupid and offensive things. The present crisis being no exception, Chatterbox will periodically compile these gasp-inducing public utterances and run them under the heading, “Retract This, Please.” Please note: lies are not what this feature is looking for. Outright falsehoods will continue to run not here, but under Chatterbox’s “Whopper of the Week” rubric. Rather, Chatterbox is looking for statements that any sensible person would regret.

No. 1

“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

-- Ann Coulter, National Review Online, Sept. 13

Retraction (from Rich Lowry, editor, National Review), Sept. 13: “The column was obviously written with some degree of anger, rage, and grief and she probably went a little far on certain things but the essential point I think is accurate that the most drastic possible measures are called for.”

No. 2

“The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way–all of them who have tried to secularize America–I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’ “

–Jerry Falwell on CBN’s 700 Club, Sept. 13, as quoted in the Washington Post. (To hear it, click here. To view the entire program, click here and then click “Thursday Morning 700 Club.”)

Retraction, Sept. 14: “Despite the impression some may have from news reports today, I hold no one other than the terrorists and the people and nations who have enabled and harbored them responsible for Tuesday’s attacks on this nation.”

Somewhat surlier retraction from Pat Robertson, Sept. 14: “[T]here are organizations within the United States that have labored unceasingly to strip religious values from our public square and, in the process, to take away the mantle of divine protection which our nation has enjoyed ever since the days of its founding. However, in no way has any guest on my program suggested that anyone other than the Middle East terrorists were responsible for the tragic events that took place on Tuesday.”

[Update, 9:30 p.m.: The above link to Robertson’s Sept. 14 retraction has itself been retracted. The link now takes you to a Sept. 17 Robertson retraction that leaves Falwell twisting in the wind: “Rev. Falwell’s initial remarks were completely in accord with what had been said in preceding parts of the program, and then, unexpectedly, he uttered a political statement of blame directed at certain segments of the population that was severe and harsh in tone and, frankly, not fully understood by the three hosts of The 700 Club who were watching Rev. Falwell on a monitor.” Robertson’s my-ears-were-clogged revision may have been crafted in response to a more contrite Falwell retraction  posted on Falwell’s Web site Sept. 17. Falwell now says, “In retrospect, I should have mentioned the national sins without mentioning the organizations and persons by name.” Chatterbox will stay on top of any additional late-breaking retractions that occur on this fast-moving story.]

[Update, Sept. 18, 1:10 p.m.: Whoops, the Falwell link in the previous update no longer works! That’s because Falwell today replaced the Sept. 17 retraction with a third retraction. Now Falwell says his comments were “insensitive, uncalled for at the time, and unnecessary as part of the commentary on this destruction.”]

No. 3

CNN online poll question, Sept. 13: “What are your feelings now about Tuesday’s terrorist attacks? a.) Shock; b.) Sorrow c.) Anger.”

Retraction: Pending.