Richard Cohen’s recent column in the WaPo is a marvel of calumny, logical inconsistency, and sloppy writing.
First the calumny:
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.
Uh, yeah. Actually, while I read a lot of news, I had no idea that de Blasio’s wife is black. Further, I don’t care. What matters to me are his left-wing policies. That is it. My daughter is married to a man of another race, and my son is engaged to a bi-racial woman. This is simply not an issue to me, or to any conservatives I know.
Yet, there is the clumsy attempt at the sly innuendo, as Cohen is not directly accusing conservatives with racism, and in fact goes out of his way to say that they are not racists. This is even while comparing conservatives with the racist and appalling Democrats, Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats, who ran against Truman in 1948 for the sole purpose of keeping Jim Crow in the South. As this comparison is the heart of the article, however, even while Cohen may feign innocence, there is only one conclusion anyone can make: He thinks conservatives are racist bigots.
Then there is the logical inconsistency, as he begins the article talking about how Ted Cruz is now the flavor of choice in the conservative heartland of America. Yet, Cruz is himself is bi-racial (or does Cohen consider Cruz a “white Hispanic”?).
Finally, there is the sloppy writing. Cohen’s poor word choice led many people to believe that he himself is a bigot. From Gawker:
Cotton-topped ladies man Richard Cohen hilariously poses as a “liberal” columnist at the Washington Post, despite being… how can we put this gently… a power-worshiping bigot. Don’t take our word for it. Please, read the paragraph he wrote today.
However, in context Cohen can only be talking about those racist conservatives.
At the same time, perhaps Gawker has a point. Since people are prone towards projection, a racist will see racism everywhere, even where it does not exist. Maybe instead of looking closely at conservatives and the Tea Party, Cohen was merely staring at the reflection in his own mirror.