Richard Cohen, the longtime Washington Post columnist, has come under fire this year for several tone-deaf articles about race and culture in America. But he may have outdone himself with his latest piece Tuesday.
The focus of the column is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) odds of winning the 2016 GOP presidential nomination given a right-leaning primary electorate. Along the way though, Cohen somehow veers off to postulate that average conservatives are sickened by the very thought of white-black marriages.
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. [Washington Post]
It's possible that Cohen intended "people with conventional views" to mean racist Americans on the fringe. Because that is the only way that sentence makes sense: The "conventional view" on interracial marriage in America — meaning the prevailing sentiment in the nation as a whole — is wildly at odds with Cohen's claim.
Nearly nine in ten Americans approve of interracial marriage, according to a July Gallup poll, up from four percent in 1959. To find the last time a majority of adults disapproved of black-white marriages, you'd have to go all the way back to 1983.
Even if one were to limit Cohen's comments to the GOP — a party that undoubtedly still has some problems with issues of race — he's still way off the mark. In the same survey, huge majorities of people in every region approved of interracial marriage, including those in the Midwest (86 percent) and the South (83 percent.) And though the survey didn't break those findings down along party lines, a separate Gallup poll back in 2011 found that a whopping 78 percent of conservatives approved of interracial marriage.
Even large majorities of likely GOP primary voters in Alabama and Mississippi — two of the most conservative states in the nation, with a violent history of racism — think interracial marriage should be legal, according to PPP surveys last year.
But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by Cohen's claim. This is the same writer who said hoodies were the uniform of "thugs," and who endorsed the statistically innumerate notion that police are right to profile all black people since some black people commit crimes.