Richard Cohen

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mactastic, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #1
    Not sure if any of y'all have been following the current brouhaha surrounding Cohen's latest episodes of severe foot-in-mouth-itis (today's episode was also pretty damn jaw-dropping as well, and we'll get there in a moment), but this is what passes as allegedly deep thoughts thunk by an allegedly left-of-center pundit -- who, as a left-of-center pundit would be hip to issues of multiculturalism and minority struggles. Or at least a basic understanding of history.

    http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions/richard-cohen-12-years-a-slave-and-arts-commentary-on-the-past/2013/11/04/f0e57a92-4588-11e3-b6f8-3782ff6cb769_story.html

    In this column, Cohen tells us that he only now realizes that slavery was actually a horrific experience for the slaves. To whit:
    I'm not sure privilege comes any whiter than that. Or at least I wasn't until I read his allegedly deep thought for today, in which he seems to be saying that people with "conventional views" might need to "repress a gag reflex" at the sight of an interracial couple. He's busy trying to spin his way out of this one now:

    http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions/richard-cohen-christies-tea-party-problem/2013/11/11/a1ffaa9c-4b05-11e3-ac54-aa84301ced81_story.html

    The lesbian dig at the end is a nice touch too. These kind of people need to be drummed out of journalism.
     
  2. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #2
    Clumsily written. But no more so than many a blog. The problem is that this stuff is no longer edited as it once was. I'm afraid you can't expect quality journalism at internet prices.
     
  3. mactastic thread starter macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #3
    I don't think the problem is that the WaPo pays their op-ed columnists too little to attract top talent.

    Also, I would submit that this goes beyond poor writing ability.
     
  4. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #4
    This from the Washington Post Style Section ...
    I see it as a very poor choice of words and questionable editing.

    For one, "conventional views" are not against interracial marriage. As pointed out in the above article, 87% of Americans approve of it according to Gallup. So why use the word conventional—meaning in accordance with what is generally done or believed—if he is attempting to describe the mindset of "extreme right-wing Republican tea party people"? The extreme is unconventional. The conventional is not extreme.

    That's just poor writing. The fact that an editor let this go through is likewise troubling. It would appear that there are some people asleep at the wheel at the Washington Post.

    And don't get me started on his slavery epiphany.

    Oy.
     
  5. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #5
    I agree. If you read the entire thing, you can figure out what he meant. But, you have to read the entire thing carefully. You are not likely to do that with a badly written op-ed piece. Poor writing. Poor editing. I might be tempted to say "In fairness to the Post, everyone else is doing it". But, that would be giving in to the immaturity of our age. "Et tu, Brute?" is more like it.
     
  6. mactastic thread starter macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #6
    I'm skeptical about his claim that he's just being misinterpreted about the de Blasio thing. But that aside, his epiphany about the conditions surrounding the institution of slavery -- the daily horrors slaves lived under -- is far worse to me. It means he's never actually thought about such things in any meaningful way. It begs the question of what else he is so naive about.
     
  7. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #7
    I completely agree.

    I don't recall you taking part in the recent thread about a state assemblyman saying he'd vote for slavery if that's what his constituents wanted. But as I said in that thread, if his constituents said they wanted him to vote to legalize rape and murder I'm sure he'd say "Hell no! I'd never support that."

    Yet apparently these people don't understand that slavery institutionalized rape, murder and countless other crimes. It's an amazing blind spot and it baffles me how a 72 year-old newspaper columnist could arrive at his ripe, old age and not know that.
     
  8. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #8
    After reading the entire blog post: In the previous paragraph, Cohen had been speak of "the Dixiecrats of old", "racial segregation", "Strom Thurmond", and the "1948 election".

    I get the impression that the author was trying to use "convention" as if it were a synonym for "tradition".

    A few too many drinks and electrical misfires in the brain, along with a looming deadline, combined with the desire to call it a wrap often makes for sloppy work.

    But then again, maybe journalism of the 'Net blogging kind tries to be a little too Gonzo for its own good sometimes...
     
  9. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #9
    I think that's exactly what he was trying to do.

    Anybody else bothered by his use of "gag reflex"?

    That sounded hyperbolic and a tad juvenile to my ears.
     
  10. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #10
    Since I never particularly liked the guy's writing, I don't want to seem like I am defending it. But, I think he is being misinterpreted, sort of. He often likes to adopt the viewpoint of a liberal Joe Sixpack. In both of these cases, he seems to be musing what it must be like to be an ageing conservative Joe Sixpack looking at ongoing social changes. What is his Point of View in these op-eds? Is he Richard Cohen himself, the liberal Joe Sixpack, or the conservative Joe Sixpack? The writing is confused; his language gives some indication of each option. No wonder people are misinterpreting the pieces.

    Once again, I'm going to blame the editor. It is the job of the editor to make sure that things like this don't happen.

    I would much rather read something written from a clear viewpoint. That is why I usually like to read Paul Krugman. He is a Liberal and he knows it.

    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/paulkrugman/index.html
     
  11. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #11
    There's also the whole "repress" vs. "suspress" argument. :p
     
  12. mactastic thread starter macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #12
    I really only mentioned the de Blasio issue because it was timely (as in, that column was written yesterday), but his far greater sin, IMHO, was the comment about slavery.

    Maybe it's because the idea that "it's troubling that a middle-aged white man had no clue of the horrors of slavery" isn't controversial enough to draw discussion. Maybe it's that it's actually possible to defend his "gag" comment by claiming misinterpretation.

    For whatever reason, people are focussing on what can charitably be called a writing oopsie, rather than on his stunning display of ignorance and privilege.

    How the fk did Cohen not know how slaves were kept imprisoned? How had he never seen the pictures of the scarred backs (or wondered why the Allman Brothers, Georgia natives, would write a song about a whipping post), or the pictures of people hanging from trees? Had he never heard the term "octaroon"? Never picked up Roots? It boggles the mind that someone could be so ignorant, yet have such a lofty perch from which to opine.

    I'm as white as they come, and I don't pretend to fully know or understand what black slaves and their descendants had and have to deal with, but I know enough to not say something that dumb on a national stage.
     
  13. Michael Goff macrumors G4

    Michael Goff

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    #13
    I don't often say people should be fired out of a cannon, but this guy...

    >_>
     
  14. mactastic thread starter macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #14
    TNC pretty well fires him out of a literary cannon:

    http://m.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/11/richard-cohen-in-context/281426/

     

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