The new media is right about one thing: Richard Cohen’s recent column is ridiculous. Ostensibly about why Chris Christie has no chance of winning the 2016 GOP presidential primary in Iowa, despite the fact that polls consistently show him in second place, only a few points behind Rand Paul — and in the lead if Ted Cruz doesn’t run — it veers wildly off topic into a discussion of the Dixiecrats, the Southern party of breakaway Democrats that nominated segregationist Strom Thurmond for president in the election of 1948.
Yes, the Dixiecrats. In Iowa. A state that is north of Christie’s home state of New Jersey. A state where the Dixiecrats were never on the ballot.
Then he starts talking about interracial marriage:
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.
The problem the media finds with this paragraph is not that it has nothing to do with Iowa, which legalized interracial marriage in 1851 — over a century before Loving v. Virginia ruled state bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional. Nor is it that Bill de Blasio has nothing to do with Chris Christie. Nor that Cohen seems to think the fact that De Blasio married a black woman who used to be a lesbian repulses cultural conservatives more than the fact that De Blasio is a former socialist who endorsed the Sandinistas and married a member of the revolutionary socialist Combahee River Collective. No, all the coverage of Cohen’s article — and there’s a lot of it — focuses on one thing, summarized by Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic:
The problem here isn’t that we think Richard Cohen gags at the sight of an interracial couple and their children. The problem is that Richard Cohen thinks being repulsed isn’t actually racist, but “conventional” or “culturally conservative.” Obstructing the right of black humans and white humans to form families is a central feature of American racism. If retching at the thought of that right being exercised isn’t racism, then there is no racism.
Well, the problem there is that the states outside the Northeast apparently look as identical to Ta-Nehisi Coates as they do to Richard Cohen. The other problem is that the media has abandoned the role of providing factual, in-depth analysis — you know, exactly the thing the liberal side of the media bashed the conservative side for (and rightly so) in the aftermath of the Romney campaign — and has decided that it would rather just sagely pronounce on whether or not something is racist.
Cohen not only neglected to check the polls, which utterly fail to reflect his prediction that “winter snows of Iowa could bury” Christie, but also shows no signs of being able to tell the difference between Iowa and Alabama. But you won’t hear that anywhere else.
Anyway, the real issue is that he’s writing about the 2016 election three years beforehand.