The reaction to Richard Cohen’s now infamous column in the Washington Post last week was baffling on so many levels. Most conservatives immediately saw what he meant when he offered the following observation:
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.
He was, of course, knocking conservatives the way liberal columnists always do—by ascribing to them (often without a shred of evidence) the kind of views that liberals find most disgusting. Cohen (whose prose, admittedly, is not exactly crystal clear) was saying that “cultural conservatives” don’t like interracial marriages. You know—we all know--people with “conventional views” are racists. Liberals are almost as likely to refer to themselves as racists as they are to refer to themselves as conventional. Only enlightened people like Richard Cohen and his friends accept marriages like Bill de Blasio’s.
Which makes Charles Blow’s New York Times column blasting Richard Cohen all the more bizarre:
Cohen seemed to want to recast racial intolerance — and sexual identity discomfort — in a more humane light: as an extension of traditional values rather than as an artifact of traditional bigotry.
Huh? I can’t tell if Charles Blow is giving Cohen too much or too little credit, but either way this is a bizarre misreading of the column. Suggesting that racial intolerance is an extension of traditional values is just Richard Cohen’s way of extending his insults. It’s not just the Tea Party with their “conventional”—hey, why not bourgeois?—view of the American family. It’s all those people with traditional religious beliefs too. He’s just thrown half of America under the bus.
Never mind that an overwhelming majority (87%) of Americans (everywhere in the country) think interracial marriages are just fine.
If you want a little insight on why liberals, in particular, love to talk about their embrace of interracial marriage and how it distinguishes them from their countrymen, I would like to recommend a piece by the man I married, written seven years ago, before the birth of our first interracial child.
In it, Jason tried to explain why so many people felt the need to tell me, when they learned I was pregnant, that “interracial children are beautiful”:
In all but a couple of cases, the remarks came from white people parked on the political left, the kind of superior folks who might run you down in their Prius for even suggesting that they harbor racial hang-ups. As liberals constantly tell themselves, only conservatives have race issues.
But you know the truth is closer to the opposite. It is the left's obsession with skin pigmentation -- invoking it everywhere and always, regardless of its relevance -- that keeps race front and center not only in our public policy debates but even in everyday life.