Richard Cohen is a world renowned journalist, a four time Pulitzer Prize winner, and a long time political reporter for UPI. He wrote a piece in yesterday’s Washington Post that has raised some eyebrows and quite a few questions. This particular passage is being widely quoted in today’s media coverage
Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, 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.
Cohen is no stranger to questions of prejudice. In July, he wrote a column in which he said,
I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize.
Cohen’s “gag reflex” this morning however, doesn’t actually seem to be the “conventional view(s)” of Americans. Slate cited a recent Gallup Poll that showed 84% of whites interviewed approved bi-racial marriage.
But the big unanswered question about Cohen’s comments seems to be, “why did he make them?” Cohen is on record as saying he believes people want to have a “conversation on race” and perhaps that’s what this was about. But if so, why then the snide remark about Ms. McCray’s sexual preference? The previously referenced Slate piece even suggested Cohen was trying to stir up racial and LGBT conflict to make more money for the Washington Post. At this point however, his intentions remain unclear.
No matter what his intentions are however, his comment is bigoted on it’s face. To suggest that anyone would gag at the thought of a bi-racial marriage is ludicrous. It shows a deep-seated link to racial ideologies from the 1950s and it’s the type of comment that will give real racists ammunition for future rants. I don’t know Mr. Cohen personally and I have no idea of his position on race or discrimination in general, but his column tells me he’s either a closeted racist, or pimping out the Post a quick influx of cash. Either way, I’m not impressed.