|Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen|
Just last week in my post-New York Mayoral election blog post entitled "Colored by Fear" I talked about the segment of people in New York and around the country who are made uncomfortable by the sight of New York Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio, his African-American wife Chirlane McCray and their two interracial children. Is Washington Post columnist and resident foot-in-mouth specialist Richard Cohen a part of that segment?
Yesterday in his regular weekly op-ed in the Post ('Christie's Tea Party Problem') Cohen opined that NJ Governor Chris Christie will never win over Tea Party loyalists and the 'severely' conservative faction of the party to win the 2016 GOP presidential nominee because (drum roll please); he's not conservative enough. Cohen based this analysis on a non-scientific quick-snapshot he took of the state of Iowa's likely caucus voters, the same caucus that selected Rick Santorum last time around.
While many across the media spectrum are rightly incensed by his 'gag reflex comment in the 2nd sentence of the 7th paragraph of his op-ed, I personally found the first sentence almost equally offensive and indicative of deep denial or a disturbing lack of understanding. You can and frankly probably should read the whole piece on the Washington Post Website but here's the paragraph causing such a stir:
"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."
Now I don't know Cohen personally or anything, I don't know what makes him tick. The cynic in me suspects he knows exactly what he's doing when he writes something homophobic or laced with bigotry as he has on so many occasions before; perhaps he derives a sense of self satisfaction by pushing people's buttons and being blatantly politically incorrect.
Maybe he just wants to drive traffic to the Post's Website, after all the editorial staff did sign off on it; it's not like Cohen crept into the WP's offices late the night before and snuck the op-ed in there or anything. But if he honestly believes that what he calls 'conventional people' are sickened by interracial families he doesn't make me want to gag; he just strikes me as a sad, frightened, bitter old man who shut his mind up tight a long time ago against the change happening all around him.
Cohen doesn't seem to grasp that De Blasio and his family are the future of this country; instead Cohen sees the new Mayor of New York and his beautiful family as something to fear. All I can do is shake my head and close with a link to Matt Connolly's spot-on piece on the Mother Jones Website entitled "Richard Cohen's 10 Worst Moments Counted Down" - if you're not familiar with Cohen his offensive 'gag reflex' comment isn't his first time on the dance floor.
Unfortunately he seems to be a guy with all the wrong moves.