In new column, Washington Post's Richard Cohen makes bizarre, racist statement about Bill de Blasio's family

"People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York"

Published November 12, 2013 3:40PM (EST)

  (Sigrid Estrada/Washington Post)
(Sigrid Estrada/Washington Post)

In his latest piece for the Washington Post — a meandering thought-piece about Chris Christie's 2016 chances — columnist Richard Cohen takes a weird and regrettable detour into issues of race, family and New York City politics.

Writing about the GOP, which Cohen insists "is not racist" but rather is merely "deeply troubled," Cohen seemingly attempts to explain the logic behind Republican cultural panic by pointing to the example of NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's biracial family. The results are not pretty (emphasis added):

Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. 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.

As Cohen's colleague, Wonkblog's Ezra Klein, notes, however, Cohen's conflation of "conventional" with "racist" is confused and mistaken. Support for interracial marriage is a widely held, majority position, varying little by region or age. To put it simply, the only people gagging are those reading Cohen's columns.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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