Richard Cohen, columnist and bigot in residence for The Washington Post, is one of those people who are so unapologetically thoughtless in their understanding of people unlike themselves that their sincerity is rather astounding.
Cohen has – quite literally – made his career in the past year saying all types of things that one would only expect to find themselves privy to as a result of a live mic mishap; surely things that no one would commit themselves to, and on paper no less, with their photo placed adjacent to their deplorable opinions.
For those unfamiliar Cohen’s work [lucky you!], I have assembled something of a “Best Of” list below:
“The first thing you should know about the so-called Steubenville Rape is that this was not a rape involving intercourse.” From the column where he qualifies rape and finds a way to blame the Steubenville incident on Miley Cyrus.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Zimmerman profiled Martin and, braced by a gun, set off in quest of heroism. The result was a quintessentially American tragedy — the death of a young man understandably suspected because he was black [emphasis mine] and tragically dead for the same reason.” From the column where he qualifies racism and says it’s okay to racially profile people because, hey, black boys are scary and we all know it! He deftly manages to take a quick jab at black culture, too.
“But when it comes to [Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s] alleged sexual boorishness [regarding the sexual harassment allegations made by Anita Hill], he stands condemned of being a man.” From the column where Cohen, who has also been accused of inappropriate behavior toward women in the workplace, takes the position that men can’t help themselves, so it’s best that we all forget the inconvenient truth that Anita Hill was being sexually harassed. By an aspirant to the highest court in the land.
There are other examples, but I think my point, that Cohen’s column is some type of routine terrorism against intellect and decency, has been made.
When this kind of stuff makes it to print, one has to wonder about the editing process and more specifically about the editors themselves. I start thinking about the ongoing issue that the media has in maintaining diversity in their newsrooms. Then I remind myself that it is not the sole responsibility of people of color, women or members of the LGBTQ communities to educate people of privilege about race, gender or sexuality.
Bigotry of any kind should be offensive to anyone.
This column was printed this week and was supposedly about Chris Christie. But Cohen shoe-horned an unnecessary paragraph about Bill de Blasio’s family as a way to talk about interracial marriage:
Here again, readers were lead to the bowels of the Washington Post newsroom, where Cohen is given coveted journalism real estate to deliver his offensive edicts about race relations.
I would expect that a good editor of any hue would take offense to Cohen’s statement: “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?)”
The paragraph doesn’t really gel with anything else in the piece, making it clear that it’s Cohen who couldn’t repress his own “gag reflex” and attacked us all with his racist word vomit. With a touch of gossipy innuendo, it went to print.
What’s more damning in this particularl instance is that Cohen employs the word “conventional” in his characterization of his own bigotry and those who share his views. He gives them refuge under the umbrella of “conservatism.” Don’t worry, he assures them; you’re amongst friends.
But perhaps he is. The professional journalism community has made him a four-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. There’s an audience of people who like his work.
They work for The Post.