Richard Cohen er en 75 år gammel kommentator i Washington Post. Han dro opp til Iowa for å vurdere Chris Christies sjanser for å vinne primærvalget der i 2016 og lærte at staten er langt mer konservativ enn Christie. Ted Cruz er deres favoritt.
Det fikk Cohen til å reflektere over det politiske landskap og hvordan protestbevegelser har markert seg. Det er ikke første gang i historien det er sterke politiske motsetninger, og det har også rammet demokratene.
Cohen så dette i sammenheng med de store kulturelle avstandene mellom folk. En del av America har ikke akseptert alle forandringene som østkyst-liberale tar for gitt. Cohen brukte den nyvalgte borgermesteren av New York som eksempel.
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.
Den som leser hele kommentaren vil ikke være i tvil om at Cohen ikke deler det konservative Amerikas syn. Men bare det å gi uttrykk for at det finnes mennesker for hvem nøytrale ekteskap og ekteskap på tvers av gruppene er unaturlig, er å utløse en veritabel storm av kritikk.
Paul Farhi tar for seg kritikken og kravene om at Cohen må sparkes.
The baying for Cohen’s head on the Internet quickly ensued — primarily from liberals who might otherwise consider Cohen, who has been a left-of-center presence on the newspaper’s op-ed page for a generation, one of their own.
The Huffington Post slapped a big photo of Cohen, 72, on its media page and roared,“Dear Washington Post: Please Fire This Man.”
Esquire.com columnist Charles Piercefumed, “If Newspaper Stupid had a top 40, Richard Cohen would be the Beatles in 1965.”
There was more critical coverage, from, among others, the Atlantic, Salon, Gawker, Slate, MSNBC.com and even The Post’sWonkblog, which helpfully pointed out that 87 percent of Americans in a Gallup survey this year approved of interracial marriage. As such, Salon.com’s columnist, Alex Pareene, suggested that Cohen’s notion that “conventional” people “gag” at the sight of the de Blasios “reveal a man very much out of touch with this era and deeply discomfited by it. (They also reveal a man who is terrified of black people.)”
Er dette det liberale Amerika?
Det er ikke første gang Cohen provoserer. Han har også tidligere sagt hva andre mener.
This isn’t the first time the liberal blogosphere has been upset about Cohen. His columns on a host of political, racial and cultural subjects have irregularly driven his critics to apoplexy as well as accusations of sexism and racism. Cohen, for example, got a vehemently negative reaction this summer when he touched on George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin by writing: “I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize.”
Perhaps his most infamous column was one in the Sunday Magazine in 1986 — Cohen has been writing a column for The Post since 1976 — that suggested that Georgetown store owners were justified in locking out young black customers because they were afraid of being robbed. That column helped inspire a campaign by local radio personality Cathy Hughes in which outraged readers dumped copies of the magazine at The Post’s front door.
Når man ser på norske mediers dekning av Årdal-drapene får man inntrykk av at noen av de samme mekanismene er utviklet her.
Cohen says he inspires strong passions because he’s willing to veer from liberal orthodoxy on racial or cultural topics. “People feel strongly about these things, and they feel the need to punish you if you don’t agree,” he said. “I remember years ago an editor said to me, ‘You can’t write that because you’re a liberal.’
“I think it’s reprehensible to say that because you disagree with something that you should fire me. That’s what totalitarians do.”