It was to be expected that many editorial pages across the country might give teases of an online Klan rally in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal, but of all the flat-out stupid and blatantly racist op-ed’s I’ve read this week, I’ve been most bothered by the double dose of cosmopolitan racism found in the Washington Post.
The first instance came courtesy of longtime columnist Richard Cohen (pictured). In “Racism vs. Reality,” Cohen gives the typical performance you get from a person who indulges in racism but wouldn’t dare consider himself to be anything reminiscent of a racist.
Cohen begins with “I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead,” but he makes clear that he is more aware of the “realities” of urban crime than those who’d much rather lie to themselves in the name of political correctness.
Indeed, right after that quoted sentence comes:
But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize. I don’t know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist. The hoodie blinds them as much as it did Zimmerman.
“We all recognize?”
How mighty presumptuous of you to suggest that your dumb and archaic view of hoodies represents that of the majority, Mr. Cohen. Never mind the actual reality that most young people in this country don hoodies regardless of race or ethnicity, but because an old White man has spoken, the rest of us must fall back and take in his wisdom.
The White paternalism is continued when Cohen asks, “Where is the politician who will own up to the painful complexity of the problem and acknowledge the widespread fear of crime committed by young Black males?”
Translation: When is some politician of note just going to say what I and other people like me are thinking: Black men are scary!?”
He lives in America and he is in AARP magazine’s prime demo range. How is he not aware that there are plenty of those saying similar racist ideology in the plainest of terms already? How is someone paid a handsome sum to say in one of the most-famous newspapers,” In New York City, Blacks make up a quarter of the population, yet they represent 78 percent of all shooting suspects — almost all of them young men. We know them from the nightly news.”
The nightly news?
If the nightly news were even as half as good as sensationalizing Black men who engage in violent crime as they were White men who initiate mass killings, Richard Cohen’s grandchildren would catch hell each time they went in to a mall or movie theater.
Cohen has been defending racial profiling for more than 25 years. Back in 1986, he defended store owners who wanted to prevent Black men from entering their stores.
But you know, he’s not a racist!
And when asked about this week’s column, Cohen told Politico:
Now, a menace in another part of the country could be a White guy wearing a wife-beater under-shirt. Or, if you’re a Black guy in the South and you come around the corner and you see a member of the Klu Klux Klan.
False equivalency alert! How is the hoodie I wear comparable to that of a Klansman?
As Alex Pareene of Salon concluded, “Richard Cohen just has a pathological fear of Black men, and he wants not just to espouse and justify this view, but also to be allowed to do so without anyone calling him racist.”
In the second pro-racial profiling piece published in the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker (pictured at right) says that it was “common sense” to profile Trayvon Martin.
The point is that this is one of those rare instances in which everyone is right within his or her own experience. African Americans are right to perceive that Martin was followed because he was Black, but it is wrong to presume that recognizing a racial characteristic is necessarily racist. It has been established that several burglaries in Zimmerman’s neighborhood primarily involved young Black males.
This is not to justify what subsequently transpired between Zimmerman and Martin but to cast a dispassionate eye on reality. And no, just because a few Black youths caused trouble doesn’t mean all Black youths should be viewed suspiciously. This is so obvious a truth that it shouldn’t need saying, and yet, if we are honest, we know that human nature includes the accumulation of evolved biases based on experience and survival. In the courtroom, it’s called ‘profiling.’ In the real world, it’s called ‘common sense.’
As a Black man prone to the ignorance of a racist White jackass at any given moment on any given day, my belief that it is wrong to profile me solely based on aesthetics is apparently a sign that I don’t live in the “real world.”
Like Cohen, Parker tries to feign concern for Blacks, noting that simply because a few Black youth are trouble makers doesn’t mean they all are. Yet, it’s okay to profile Black men and fear them for merely existing given that’s her experience. Why didn’t she just say what she meant: That her and Richard’s lily-White, uber-rich bubbles are the only ones that matter and we’re kidding ourselves to think otherwise.
I will give Cohen credit for writing, “For want of a better word, the problem is cultural, and it will be solved when the culture, somehow, is changed.”
Part of the problem is certainly cultural, and it’s because of the likes of Kathleen Parker and Richard Cohen who continue to spread the poison without much needed enlightenment — and with the backing of their editors at the Washington Post.
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