Of course it so happens that when there is real and fierce PostScripting to be done, PostScript was busy getting a nice man with pliers to rearrange her various teeth. Fortunately the need for a good PostScripting was recognized not only by the person who e-mailed PostScript in hopes she would PostScript on the subject of Richard Cohen’s column on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but also by the entire Internet. Indeed, while PostScipt formed a very incisive pile of bloody drool on the subject, several sites did a bang-up job PostScripting in her stead.
Richard Cohen wrote, in a column predicting big trouble for “cuddly moderate” Christie in the Iowa caucuses of 2016, 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.”
The Internet noticed. First, that Cohen is being oddly polite and accepting of biracial family-gaggers. From Ta-Nehisi Coates:
“The problem is that Richard Cohen thinks being repulsed [by the de Blasio family] isn’t actually racist, but ‘conventional’ or ‘culturally conservative.’ ”
To which Cohen responded:
“What I was doing was expressing not my own views but those of extreme right-wing Republican tea party people.”
And then, the Internet disagreed that such racism is common enough among Iowa Republicans, even the “extreme right-wing Republican tea party people,” that candidates for office need worry about it. From Ezra Klein:
“But insofar as ‘conventional’ means ‘based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed,’ acceptance of interracial marriage is overwhelmingly conventional. A July poll from Gallup finds that 87 percent of Americans approve — up from 4 percent in 1959.”
I don’t know any conservatives who find interracial marriage repulsive, contra Richard Cohen. — @JeffreyGoldberg
To be fair, Cohen did use the multiracial family as an example of the “mainstreaming of what used to be avant garde,” which acknowledges that disapproval of interracial marriage is way marginalized among everyone. It is, in fact, not anti-miscegenationists’ country anymore.
Commenters? Anything left to say? Why, yes! Tea partiers — though none identifies as “extreme” — who think interracial marriage is awesome:
I am a member of a tea party. My child is in an interracial marriage and our grandchildren are bi-racial. How dare you make accusations you have virtually no evidence to support.
Tom from Detroit
So Cohen is aghast that people have imputed racist attitudes to him. Good. Now he knows what it feels like to be falsely accused of racism. Think about that, Cohen, next time you make reckless and false charges of racism against tea partiers, conservatives, or whoever it is you hate. You never had a problem leveling false charges of racism as a club to be used against your ideological enemies. So don’t act so hurt. You got a mild dose of your own sick medicine.
Well, Mr. Cohen, as a ‘Right-Wing Tea Party Person,” I feel slandered. I’m marrying a Muslim woman, my sister is a lesbian, and my best friend is black man I’ve known since childhood. I proudly consider myself to be a ‘Right-Wing Conservative Tea-Party Person”. I’ve attended countless tea-party rallies with my fiancee. How many sideways looks have I seen or derogatory comments overheard? None. I am SO tired of liberals trying to make us look like a bunch of hate-filled Neanderthals. Always with generalities, and outright lies. Now, I’m sure that there are a VERY few people you would describe as Tea-Party members who do have a negative view of inter-racial relationships, but there are whack-jobs on both sides. Do the world a favor, Mr. Cohen: retire, and keep your hate-filled drivel to yourself.
jeffhenster, though, backs Cohen up:
Guess it depends where you live–I live in Texas, and I can objectively state that the “conventional” view here is against bi-racial marriages and homosexuals. I can’t imagine Iowa is much different. That is completely different than saying that I think that way (I don’t).
I also live in TX and when biracial marriages are accepted at Texas A&M of all places, as they have been for years, then the bigotry against them is no longer conventional. It is hidden in the dark corners where rats go to die.
Buddydog says that while Cohen is wrong, he learned from watching us:
Ultimately, Cohen made the same mistake I see repeated on this comment board over, and over, and over, and over again: he lazily painted a broad swath of people with the same, inaccurate brush. It is true that some hard-right tea-party conservatives are racist. It is also true that many of them are not. And the same can be said about every other demographic/constituent group out there; some are racist, but most are not.
Mr. Cohen did exactly what every commenter does when they include in a sentence, “liberals don’t understand…” “conservatives don’t believe in…” “progressives are trying to…”, etc. It’s a cheap, stupid way to make an argument – try and batch every extreme, weird view under one rubric so you can paint your opponent as guilty by association, even if they’re not.
So yes, Cohen screwed up. I don’t know who he meant by “conventional”, but it was clearly the wrong word choice. The ironic thing is that his biggest detractors on this board are some of the worst offenders of the very thing he did wrong.
And sethblink says, controversy aside, that Iowa doesn’t pick the presidential winners in any case:
Is Iowa going to cause a problem for Christie? I don’t think so. Nobody expects him to win Iowa or to come in a close second. Huckabee won it big in ’08 and Santorum edged out Romney in ’12. Iowa is too socially conservative to be a bellwether, even for the GOP.