Richard Cohen’s Latest WaPo Column Triggers Furor
Richard Cohen’s latest column for the Washington Post has provoked outrage and a huge backlash online, along with fresh accusations of both racism and sexism:
The Washington Post‘s ostensibly liberal columnist Richard Cohen set off a ruckus on Monday with his latest column, in which he said that the family of New York City’s mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is unconventional enough to be physically revolting to average Americans.
In a piece entitled “Christie’s tea-party problem,” Cohen issued a standard set of Beltway bromides about the state of the 2016 race and the extent to which the Republican Party could be hobbled by far-right factions within its ranks. Then, in his seventh paragraph, Cohen took off on a tin-eared tangent about the New York City mayoral race.
“Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party,” Cohen said, “but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.”
Critics have called Cohen’s judgment into question, as well as his use of the word “conventional” to describe racist, reactionary viewpoints. …
Cohen has a history of controversy at the Post. In 1998, the newspaper mediated between Cohen and a 23-year-old female intern in a sexual harassment incident. Cohen reportedly told the new intern to “stand up and turn around” so he could see why she was hired. In the end, the Post fired the intern and kept Cohen. …
Reuters media columnist Jack Shafer tweeted Tuesday morning, “Richard Cohen just wrote his retirement notice.”
Think Progress‘ Zack Beauchamp has assembled a retrospective of some of Cohen’s more disgraceful past commentaries:
Cohen’s race problem dates back to 1986, when he defended store owners banning black boys from their places of business. For fear of crime, you see. The black community launched a massive wave of protests, the Post’s executive editor apologized, and even Cohen later admitted his critics were “mostly right.”
Fast forward to 2013, when Cohen used the same argument to defend George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was “understandably” suspicious of Trayvon Martin, because he was black, young and “wearing a uniform we all recognize.” Cohen concluded these musings with an argument for racial profiling based on a laughably basic statistical fallacy.
But lest you think Richard Cohen is blind to racism, never fear. He’s all over racism against white people — or, as it’s more commonly known, affirmative action. Because “for most Americans, race has become supremely irrelevant” (tell that to defender of profiling Richard Cohen), “it was not racists who were punished [by affirmative action] but all whites.”
In Cohenland, it’s not only whites who are victims of political correctness run amok, but also accused rapists. In his column defending Roman Polanski, he refers the 13 year old girl who the filmmaker raped after deliberately getting drunk as a “victim” (his quotes). Cohen concluded that there was “something stale about the case” and that he “dearly wishes the whole thing would go away.”
Blogger Heather “Digby” Parton ended her commentary on Cohen’s column with this delicious helping of righteous snark:
Thank goodness we have compassionate, understanding liberals like Richard Cohen out there explaining their needs and wants to the avant-garde (even though they hate him too.) Where would they be without friends like him?