Washington Post Op-Ed Writer Richard Cohen Slammed for ‘Racist’ Column (Updated)

Washington Post Op-Ed Writer Richard Cohen Slammed for 'Racist' Column (Updated)

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Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt says: “I think he is a terrific columnist. I’m very happy to have him in the Post.”

Longtime Washington Post opinion writer Richard Cohen has come under fire again for racial remarks in his column, this time about NYC mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's family.

Cohen on Monday wrote that the GOP “is not racist,” but that “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.”

Also read: How the New York Papers Covered Bill de Blasio's Election

He added: “Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?”

WaPo executive editor Martin Baron would not comment on the article, telling TheWrap: “I don’t have anything to do with the opinion page and have a policy of never commenting on any editorials or op-ed columns.”

Neither Cohen did not respond to requests for comment, but outgoing publisher Katharine Weymouth tweeted that she thought the column was “brilliant.”

Outcry was swift and strong. The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates replied: “Right. I'm not racist. I just don't recognize my country. Also, the sight of you, and your used-to-be-lesbian black wife, and your brown children make me sick to my stomach. It's not like I want to lynch you or anything. ”

Salon called for Cohen to be fired for his “disgustingly racist column.” Slate, which is owned by the Washington Post Company, suggested that WaPo's new owner Jeff Bezos “reconsider whether regularly publishing racist op-ed columns is a wise business strategy.”

Also read: Fox News Hires Washington Post Columnist George Will

And one of Cohen's own co-workers, Ezra Klein, provided a few statistics to show that the “conventional” view was firmly in favor of interracial marriage: 87 percent of Americans approve of marriage between blacks and whites, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt took the blame for outrage, telling TheWrap: “Anyone reading Richard's entire column will see he is just saying that some Americans still have a hard time dealing with interracial marriage. I erred in not editing that one sentence more carefully to make sure it could not be misinterpreted.”

“I think he is a terrific columnist,” Hiatt added. “I’m very happy to have him in the Post.”

Yet this is far from Cohen's first brush with accusations of racism in his work. In July, he wrote about the George Zimmerman trial, in which a man was acquitted for shooting an unarmed black teenager in self-defense, saying “I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize … the public knows young black males commit a disproportionate amount of crime.”

“If the police are abusing their authority and using race as the only reason, that has got to stop,” Cohen said of New York's controversial stop and frisk program that disproportionately targets minorities. … But if they ignore race, then they are fools and ought to go into another line of work.”

  • Fossil1944

    Even idiots have a right to free speech. Let him have his say, don't validate his ignorance by responding to his racists comments.

    • Rose

      They don't have a right to have OpEd columns in The Washington Post.

      Or actually, maybe they do? That would explain a lot.

    • peteykins

      Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from criticism.

      • Fossil1944

        criticism and the publicity it brings is what people like him feed on. So if you wish to placate him, by all means criticize. Personally I don't feel he is worth the lead it would take to mail him a postcard with a F-U, nasty letter to follow.

    • Newzheimer

      Freedom of speech means that the government may not suppress anyone's right to speak. The Washington Post doesn't have to publish this guy's racist garbage. I'm certain he could find other outlets for his hatred.

      Regardless, speech may be free, but it still has consequences.

      • Fossil1944

        I am in total agreement with that. Rights come with responsibilities and consequences. We have some groups today that are insisting that the way they see a right is the way everyone should see it. Freedom of choice is a good one. Your freedom to choose is only OK so long as it agrees with their position on the choice.

  • EdofNYC

    Seriously, how is this racist? Most seniors who I have cared for find mixed race relationships repugnant. It's just from a different era. Although deBlasio's “marriage” is a joke (yes, she is a lesbian), I don't find it morally repugnant. What is repugnant is his radical left-wing policies that are stridently anti-business, anti-capitalist, anti-cop, and anti-Western civilization. Also, for those ninnies who find the very liberal, and anti-American Cohen “racist” for saying that young black males commit a disproportionate amount of crime, my question is merely: they don't? Facts and statistics are not “racist,” rather ignoring them are.

    • Fossil1944

      I am a senior and have never thought that way. My parents were very conservative and taught us that your business was none of our business. On you statement about black crime rates. If you reversed the social reality, turned it completely on it's ear, placed all white males in inner city poverty ridden areas with no jobs and no prospects for conditions improving, gave all the Black males the educational opportunities and standard of living you enjoy, then the situation would be the same in reverse. We need to put ourselves in the other man's shoes before we make such rash accusations.

      • EdofNYC

        Oh, that is just silly, wholly uneducated, clueless rambling. Why are the white Appalachians free of such dastardly crime given their extreme poverty? Also, when the economy was booming, why were rates of crime in back communities so high? It is a cultural thing. This has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with a culture that shuns education, sophistication, intellect, gentlemanly behavior, and class. A simple walk through Bedford Stuyvesant, or listening to any hip hop song, or listening to any young adult from the hood will make it abundantly clear that it is a culture of ignorance, and violence that is celebrated. If Nat King Cole, or Sidney Poitier walked through these hoods they would be robbed. If they spoke at their schools they would be heckled and jeered.

        It's the sad truth. It is a culture of violence that has zero to do with economics. Ask yourself this one simple question — why is it that so many rap artists who are making plenty of money still engage in anti-social, savage activities that include violence and gun play? Why do these men AND women who make more than the average white accountant end up in jail for violent offenses?

  • Andrew H

    “A terrific columnist”? Really? I guess the guy has the right to air his racist views, but a Washington Post editor thinks It's “brilliant” to say that “conventional” people are made ill by a white man and black women being married in 2013, when in fact polls show that even most conservatives are fine with interracial marriage? I had more respect for the paper than that. I guess it was misplaced.

  • Newzheimer

    Shouldn't this racist be writing for a more appropriate venue, like say the Washington Times or Breitbart? What he espouses is outright racism and its appearance on the Op-ed pages of the Post constitute an endorsement, however backhanded.

  • danbloom

    I have been reading Cohen since he started at the POST in 1976 and i love his work and after seeing all this brouhaha over the “racist” column i read it today here in Taiwan and i saw nothing racist or homophobic about it all. you all reacting too quickly and with anger at wrong target. All Cohen was saying was THAT is how the Tea Party folk in Iowa are gonna perceive DEBLASIO etc. COHEN was right on, he said nothing wrong, America is effed up if it goes after Cohen on this instead of the Tea Partyiers. Leave Richard alone. He said it right. Nothing wrong there. FULL DISCLOSURE – he is a friend of mine. REPEAT you are going after wrong target. Cohen is on your side you angry libs. Oi.