Tell the Washington Post: Disavow your editorial’s offensive, racist, and untrue rhetoric about interracial families
It's shocking, hurtful and just plain wrong. The Washington Post just published an editorial by a senior staff writer suggesting people who hold conventional views gag when they see interracial families.
Richard Cohen is an opinion writer and longtime staffer whose views are published every Tuesday in the Washington Post editorial pages. In a column published this week,1 he wrote:
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.
Tell the Washington Post: Publicly apologize for suggesting that interracial marriage makes normal people want to throw up, and discipline the writer and editors responsible.
The editorial is not only offensive, hurtful, and racist, but it's wrong, given that recent polling shows 87% of Americans approve of interracial marriage.2
The purpose of Cohen's editorial was to describe a schism between moderate and conservative Republican primary voters. But in the course of his argument he chose to include – and his editor approved – the word “conventional,” which according to Merriam Webster means "used and accepted by most people: usual or traditional."
It's language that legitimizes and indeed makes normative the fringe and racist view that interracial marriages and mixed-race families are so disgusting and beyond the pale that their very appearance induces average Americans to vomit. This is unacceptable.
At CREDO we believe in free speech. But a paper must take responsibility for the views it publishes. A publisher like the Washington Post has the ability to influence the national dialogue and it must not use its powerful platform to promote fringe and racist theories as conventional views or as fact-based. Not only was this opinion piece written by a Washington Post staffer, but it was vetted and approved by his editors. The paper must address its endorsement of Cohen's clearly offensive and untrue argument.
This is not the first time Cohen has been exposed for his racially insensitive statements. After Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman, Cohen described the victim as a "young man understandably suspected because he was black."3 His track record on women and gays is also shaky.4 He referred in print to the Steubenville rape case as a “so-called” rape and has called the behavior of gay men “disgusting.” And in the current column, he marginalizes the New York mayor-elect's wife not only for being an African American woman married to a white man, but for having had relationships with women in the past.
The photos of the radiant de Blasio family on election night were inspiring.5 It's a gut punch to have Richard Cohen and the Washington Post suggest that Americans with “conventional views” would find them nauseating.
- “Christie’s tea-party problem,” Richard Cohen, Washington Post, November 12, 2013.
- “In U.S., 87% Approve of Black-White Marriage, vs. 4% in 1958,” Frank Newport, Gallup Politics, July 25, 2013.
- ”Racism vs. reality,” Richard Cohen, Washington Post, July 16, 2013.
- “Richard Cohen’s Extensive History Of Racism, Sexism And Homophobia," Zack Beauchamp, Think Progress, November 12, 2013.
- “PHOTOS: De Blasio Family Celebrates New York City Mayoral Victory ,” Catherine Thompson, Talking Points Memo, November 6, 2013.