If you thought Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen might avoid including a nasty aside about interracial marriage in an editorial nominally about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, you really don’t know Richard Cohen. Here’s the paragraph that has the Internet in a justified uproar today (emphasis ours):
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.
Twitter wasted no time laying into Cohen, already a favorite political lightning rod.
Richard Cohen chokes on his own racist vomit while I'm there, silently watching. I could help, but I don't. I'm Walter Brown.— Snarknado (@mumbly_joe) November 12, 2013
The real question here: How does Richard Cohen's editor get to go on vacation so often? http://t.co/4B7xRH3shz— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) November 12, 2013
Countdown begins till Richard Cohen equates the beating he is taking on Twitter to a "high tech lynching" with no sense of irony— TBogg (@tbogg) November 12, 2013
But really, how surprised should we be when Cohen’s previous column concerned his recent discovery that slavery is—wait for it—evil? There’s also this Change.org petition agitating for his dismissal, which kicked off back in July, when Cohen wrote that slain teenager Trayvon Martin was a “young man understandably suspected because he was black.” The petition also cites a 1986 piece (which he later walked back) in which he argued that “jewelry store owners were justified in keeping black people out of their stores for fear of theft.”
Even with his history of appalling ideas, Cohen’s opinions have lately been so vile and out of touch—a staggering majority of “conventional” Americans, including conservatives, are just fine with interracial marriage—that some, like Salon’s Alex Pareene, suspect he’s begging to be put out to pasture. And while we can’t know the all particulars, it’s a good bet such a move will start making financial sense to the big man upstairs.
Don't know what the pay scale is these days, but I'll bet Bezos could buy at least two great reporters for what he's paying Richard Cohen.— Elon Green (@elongreen) November 12, 2013
The best responses were by members of multiracial families, who tweeted images for Cohen to gag over:
Totally gag worthy. http://t.co/XILiEAyX8A— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) November 12, 2013
The Amos Family: Making “Conventional” Racists Gag Since 1965™ pic.twitter.com/MTfcFemEW9— India (@indiamos) November 12, 2013
My multiracial kids and I are starting a punk band called GAG, AMERICA, GAG!!! pic.twitter.com/g3aovUIARP— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) November 12, 2013
These are my interracial parents & the only thing gag-worthy here is the 90s shirt-tuck (4 yr. old me took the photo) pic.twitter.com/LlyIJq3qc7— Sarah N. Emerson (@SarahNEmerson) November 12, 2013
Photo via nycpublicadvocate/Flickr
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