Washington Post editor and columnist defend themselves against accusations of racism after editorial on New York mayor-elect Bill de Blasio

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NEW YORK: Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization, in response to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen’s column on Tuesday said in an email to Asian Journal: “Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote a deeply hateful editorial in which he stated that ‘people with conventional views’ are challenged by New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s interracial marriage and family, to the point that the average person would have to suppress their ‘gag reflex’ when seeing them on TV.

“Since when did the editors of one of our nation’s premier newspapers become the arbiters of conventional, or traditional, American views? And since they have decided to play that role, how did they come to the decision that, in 2013, the average American is disturbed by the sight of an interracial family — to the point of running for the barf bag?

“If the editors of Mr. Cohen’s article–and Mr. Cohen himself–took a moment to think about the recent history of our nation, they could see that the American people actually are interested in learning more about our commonalities and connections — from Bill de Blasio’s family to the First Family–rather than worn out and racist ideas about our differences. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Americans approve of interracial marriages.

“Cohen’s offensive and racist sentiments are unacceptable and undeserving of a major national media platform. This is the type of racebaiting that is intended on elevating and advancing the worst in us, and the Washington Post’s readers deserve better.

“The Washington Post should apologize for running this column and fire Richard Cohen immediately.”

 

NITA Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, a national women’s organization, said in an email to Asian Journal: “Richard Cohen is begging to be fired, and the Washington Post needs to do the right thing and cut him loose. Not only has he blamed twerking for America’s rape epidemic and justified racial profiling that led to the murder of Travyon Martin, but now he is telling America that interracial marriages make him and other people gag. If it wasn’t clear before, it is clear now: Richard Cohen is off the rails and a growing stain on the Washington Post’s reputation. He needs to go.”

Earlier this year, more than 2,000 members of UltraViolet penned letters to the Washington Post urging the paper to drop Cohen over a series of comments he made in the wake of the Steubenville rape investigation and case.  Nita Chaudhary is married to a man of another race.

 

THE Guardian newspaper of London reported that Cohen told the Huffington Post that the comments were never intended to be and shouldn’t be read as racist.

The newspaper said: “He said he was expressing the views of extremists within the Tea Party and not his own and said the word racist was “truly hurtful.” He said: “It’s not who I am. It’s not who I ever was. It’s just not fair. It’s just not right.”

“Asked if he believed that people who do “have a gag reflex” at the idea of interracial marriage are in fact racist, he said that he did. “I could have picked a better word, but it didn’t ring any bells with anybody, it didn’t ring any bells with me,” he told the Huffington Post. “But there is a context to the column. You’ve got to read the whole column, and if you read the whole column you can’t honestly think that these are my views or that I endorse the views that I articulated in the column.””

Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post’s editorial page editor, in an email to the Guradian, said: “Anyone reading Richard’s entire column will see he is just saying that some Americans still have a hard time dealing with interracial marriage. I erred in not editing that one sentence more carefully to make sure it could not be misinterpreted.”