Richard Cohen will never be accused of being a progressive on race politics: one need only look to his ham-fisted defense of New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” policy as evidence. This was an article wherein Cohen matter-of-factly stated, “The same holds for racial profiling. The numbers are proof not of racism but of a lamentable fact: Black and Hispanic men are disproportionately stopped because they are disproportionally the perpetrators of gun crime.”
Black people are criminal, argues Cohen, and we should treat them as such. Here, Cohen’s position on the supposed criminality (and therefore the humanity) of Black men is obvious. So, with this in mind, I cannot defend Cohen’s racial outlook: there is already ample published evidence suggesting that he has internalized a misguided and intolerant fear of African Americans that should not be tolerated.
But, is every article that Cohen guilty of that same overt racism simply by virtue of its author? Today, Cohen wrote a brief op-ed in the Washington Post examining Governor Chris Christie’s chances in the Iowa caucus. That article has sparked massive Internet outrage, culminating in cries for him to be fired from the writing staff of the Washington Post.
While I’m not a fan of Cohen, I can’t help but wonder if this reaction is one I fully agree with?