WaPo Columnist Richard Cohen’s Racism Problem

shutterstock_113481784__1384365304_142.196.156.251Yesterday, The Washington Post published an op-ed column by Richard Cohen – that made a bleak attempt to try to explain how some Tea Party conservatives feel about certain aspects of American life – namely interracial relationships. Cohen understands why interracial relationships make some conservatives gag, and tries to break it down for the rest of us:

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.

Oh – they’re not racist! They’re just deeply troubled. It’s deeply troubling for them to imagine blacks and whites falling in love and making families. Cohen is just trying to put that all into context for us. He’s not racist. He just totally understands why interracial relationships are troubling to some – especially when you throw a healthy dose of lesbianism in for good measure.

Well, understandably, the sane people of the Internet freaked after they read his comments. I happen to be one of those sane people. But Cohen is taking the whole, “I’m incredibly offended you all find my racist comments, racist” stance that we all could have predicted he would take. He told the Huffpost yesterday:

“The word racist is truly hurtful. It’s not who I am. It’s not who I ever was. It’s just not fair. It’s just not right.”

Mkay. But it is who you are. Does anyone remember his thoughts on the George Zimmerman trial?

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. I don’t know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist.

Making racist statements and then following those statements with, But I’m not racist! And I’m horribly offended that you think I am! is an interesting tactic. It’s also tired – as is Cohen’s op-ed recipe. He managed to blame the Steubenville rapes on Miley Cyrus‘ twerking – that was a piece of work. Should we give him the benefit of the doubt by assuming he is so out of touch that he doesn’t understand that occasionally what he spews is racist, misogynistic crap?

I don’t think so.

What’s the point of trying to establish “context” for the racist reactions of some Tea Party conservatives anyway? This just seems counterintuitive to growing as a humans. How long do we have to justify racism? Why should the rest of us who have fully evolved seek to understand the fear and ignorance of those who haven’t? If Cohen truly isn’t racist – I don’t think he should bother himself with performing this “public service” anymore.

(photo: happystock/ Shutterstock)

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