Ann Coulter is promoting her newest polemic tome, “¡Adios America!: The Left’s Plan To Turn Our Country Into A Third World Hellhole.” She’s back-slapped with Hannity on Fox, sparred with Jorge Ramos on Fusion and had her book subjected to intense scrutiny. She is also taking her book on the road, giving talks, meeting fans and signing their title pages. Who attends an Ann Coulter book signing? When I accepted an invitation from her publicist to attend a book signing event at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York, I never thought that I’d find myself in the same room as a Democrat, an undocumented immigrant and a 19 Muslim student whose parents emigrated from Latin America. What the hell are these folks doing there? Good question.

A lot of people who read this article probably hate Ann Coulter and they’re not alone. Her comments are far from politically correct, and she’s delivered low blows to everyone from Muslims (“take a camel,” not airplanes) to 9/11 widows (“I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much”). What her opponents rarely acknowledge is that if you love Ann Coulter, you aren’t alone either. Her controversial books aren’t just bought by liberals ungifting each other as a Christmas prank. Despite nominal pushback from mainstream Republicans, she’s got a base among conservatives; real supporters with real opinions, a real vote and  -- more often than not -- a voice in choosing the Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential election.

To meet some of Coulter’s genuine supporters, I wrapped up last Sunday’s picnic in Central Park and took a 15 minute walk to the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York’s East Side, where I was greeted by an extremely excited and friendly Met Club staff. They were profoundly hospitable; when I mentioned that I might be moving to New York -- I’m based in L.A. -- they promised to help me find an apartment. When it wasn't clear if Coulter's publisher had a copy for me to review, they made sure I left with one. Full disclosure: I haven’t read “¡Adios America!: The Left’s Plan To Turn Our Country Into A Third World Hellhole” cover-to-cover. Anything I’ve written here that implies otherwise comes from Coulter’s remarks, interviews, or the first 5 pages of the book or a frantic search for “Denmark” in the index.

The Democrat

“I’m just here with my friend.” Allen, 57, said as he sat down next to me. “I’d describe myself as a Democratic-leaning liberal Jew. I think that Democrats are more about supporting the average person. With Republicans, if you’re not rich, it’s your fault.” He hadn’t read Coulter’s book and didn’t agree with her on immigration. A lawyer, Allen told me that he’s fairly well off, “but I grew up in the projects, in Brookline.”

Allen's friend Pamela did not grow up in the projects. Pamela, 47, is a psychotherapist and politely but firmly disagreed with Allen.

“Both parties are using immigration for their own gain,” Pamela said, echoing one of the main arguments in Adios, America. “They’re murdering our country. [Meanwhile] we’re killing business -- making companies pay for birth control; the government is creating more of a need for herself.”

Who would Pamela like to see as president? In a fantasy world: Trump, Patton or Reagan. Someone a little more realistic? Rick Perry.  "He’s the toughest on immigration," she says.

Allen wasn’t passionate about the immigration issue in particular, but he couldn’t stand the politics of the people in the room.

“Nobody here gets it, nobody here is like me,” Allen says, pointing at the well-heeled hall, full of pressed suits and botoxed lips. “I grew up in the projects [in Brookline]. Most of the country is like where I came from. My son’s about to go into the military -- no one in this room sends their kids into the military.”

“Not the Tea Party!” Pamela replied, referring to the proletariat conservative movement that's shaken up the GOP in recent years. “Let’s make chart of all the rich Democrats, like George Soros. And who do people in the military actually vote for? I’d like to see that statistic.”

Veterans are more likely to identify as Republican. While voting among enlisted men is hard to measure, the Republican-to-Democrat ratio could be as high as 2-to-1, while officers and top brass are way more conservative.

As Coulter took to the podium, the rest of the room gave a standing ovation, while Pamela and Allen stayed seated, holding hands.

Ann Coulter, The Zinger Slinger

Ann Coulter is welcome to visit “any time,” said the Republican Met Club emcee in her introduction. In fact, they love her so much they’ve given her an honorary membership.

“Hopefully that won’t get me identified as a Republican,” Coulter said, launching into a clever delivery of remarks that included her infamous analogies. Coulter’s zingers excite readers and incite opponents, which include pretty much every mainstream Republican. It’s no surprise that every mainstream Republican candidate in 2012 maintained what Jack Schafer described as "Ann Coulter Damage Control Departments." If Ann Coulter is a racist (whatever that actually means), she is both a clever and perversely classy one, walking a tightrope of xenophobia and blanket anti-immigrant rhetoric while keeping the most blatant segregationist phrasings and White Power rhetoric safely beneath her act.

Coulter chided the current immigration policy as “anyone who lives within walking distance,” and denounced relative-based prioritization for permanent residency and citizenship saying that “It’s not family reunification, it’s tribal reunification.”

She compared rat feces in food to welfare in society (none of it is acceptable), and managed to say “the browning of America” and “rape” in the same sentence (it wasn’t a straight analogy). Though she complains that she can't find accurate statistics on immigrant-perpetrated crime, she confidently tied the word “immigrant” to “rape,” “incest” and “murder.” Still, she stressed that she’s not against any racial group of Americans, just immigrants. Then she cites a statistic like this “In Denmark, actual Danes come in 10th in the nationality most likely to be in prison.”* (I’m trying really really hard to find out where this is from; no word yet from Team Coulter).

“Tenth! Why are you doing this to yourself? It’s as if a country decided ‘oh we’re too pure and white-bread; everybody tie off a vein and let’s give ourselves a shot of Hep-C.”

In my notes I wrote “Ann Coulter is the Malcolm X of the anti-immigrant movement, a segregationist who articulates what’s on the mind of her supporters.” Is that true, or was I just trying to think of something that would piss off everyone in the room? Maybe Ann Coulter’s polemic style was rubbing off. But then the question-and-answer session came and I felt at least partially vindicated. One of the early questions came from middle-aged man on the opposite side of the room from me... something about how college kids get brainwashed into holding pro-multicultural views. But it was the preface to the question, following all of the zingers listed above, that quenched my curiosity about Ann Coulter fans.

“Thank you for putting your neck out there and saying the things that we want to say.”

Ann Coulter signs book fan #1 Controversial author Ann Coulter signs a copy of her new book "¡Adios America!: The Left’s Plan To Turn Our Country Into A Third World Hellhole" for a fan at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York. June 7, 2015 Cedar Attanasio / Latin Times

The Immigrants

It didn’t occur to me that any immigrants would be at the talk until they popped out of the woodwork in the question-and-answer session following Coulter’s stump speech. There was an immigrant from former Soviet Georgia, who urged the room to that green-card recipients need to be blocked from government benefits like welfare. There was a Puerto Rican man, who, though not an immigrant, was absolutely psyched to be there -- despite Coulter’s fetichizing of Anglo culture and disdain for Latino’s “peasant culture.” My ears perked up when I heard an “illegal alien” pipe in.

"I’m an undocumented immigrant,” said the  woman, prefacing her question in the question and answer session. No, it wasn’t a Dreamer activist who crashed the show to make a stink. It was a Canadian “illegal” who wanted to hide her overseas properties from U.S. taxes. An illegal immigrant dodging the IRS? Coulter responded by sympathizing with the difficulties that Canadian and European immigrants have getting green cards.

The Muslim

A few of the questions were variations on “How do I argue your points to my friends?” It was on one of these that I met the most interesting people of the afternoon, Ziyad Rahaman Azeez, and 19-year-old political science student at George Washington University. Azeez stood out, not just as the darkest person in the room (I don’t think there were any African Americans), but the youngest -- likely the only teenager in a room where I was probably the only twenty-something.

“I am a big fan of yours, I just have a question,” he said, raising his brown hand in the air. “You’ve repeatedly said that immigrants take jobs of people that are already here [both legally and illegally] and [me and] my [immigrant] parents consistently believe that.”

Azeez wanted to know how to refute statistics and reports that argue immigrants don’t supplant the existing workforce or even grow it (both left and right-leaning think tanks vary wildly in their estimates). This is a tough hurdle for many conservatives, as it basically requires an argument against free markets and for regulation. Coulter’s response dissected those reports’ methodologies for miscounting (like counting the wine you bring to a potluck when you drink it yourself) back into her main thesis (American taxpayer money --> welfare --> Mexicans --> remittance to “Chi-a-pas” --> billionaire Carlos Slim).

In line to get his copy of “¡Adios America!" signed, Azeez told me that his parents both immigrated from the formerly British Latin American republic of Guyana (that sliver on the map east of Venezuela, next to Surinam and French Guiana). His parents are both legal immigrants. His father is employed but his mother, a medical professional, is between jobs. He also mentioned the he and his family are muslims. That’s right,

“People should listen to Ann Coulter more,” he said. “I’ve seen her on [various Fox News shows], but I’d like to see her on ABC, NBC [etc.]. I’d like to see her debate [pro-immigrant] people like Mark Zuckerberg.”

Does Coulter’s anti-Muslim rhetoric ever bother him, like during the talk (in which Muslims were used a shorthand for European criminal immigrants), or in her previous remarks?

“It can be frustrating,” Azeez said with a shrug.

Yet Azeez was beaming as he got his book signed by one of his intellectual heroes. Coulter shook his hand, sharpied her big name and spoke with him for a while.

“I’m glad to have you on our side,” Coulter told him.

Ann Coulter fan #2 Controversial author Ann Coulter speaks with fan Ziyad Rahman Azeez after signing his book. A second-generation immigrant and a Muslim, Azeez doesn't fit the stereotype of a Coulter supporter. A 19-year-old political science student at George Washington University, Azeez believes that immigrants are taking American jobs, and that Coulter's ideas should be listened to by the mainstream. Cedar Attanasio / Latin Times
 
*Danish immigrants and crime. Coulter kindly pointed out to me that her statistic comes from Jihad Watch, cited on page 308 of her notes (106 in Adios, America). I'm trying to get those states (from 2007) in Danish.
A Danish guy on Twitter who read this article strongly disagreed, and offered alternative stats (from 2012). I'm trying to get those translated as well....