"Space For More Max Boot Columns"—Remembering The POST's Richard Cohen On His Retirement
09/23/2019
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I thought this was funny.

Richard Cohen has been with us for a long time. He's wrong-headed, but not nearly as wrong-headed as Max Boot. The linked Washingtonian story says:

Cohen joined the Post in 1968 and became an opinion writer in 1984. He helped get the redesigned Post magazine off to an extremely rocky start only two years later with a piece that sympathized with jewelry store owners who didn’t want to let young black men into their shops; Ben Bradlee, then the paper’s executive editor, apologized after protesters returned thousands of copies of the magazine to the newspaper.

In the years since he displayed a remarkable ability to survive at the paper despite being accused of sexual harassment (he somehow got a better office out of the deal) and frequently stepping in it with regard to race, like the time he wrote that “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” or the time that he wrote sympathetically about the man who killed Trayvon Martin. Cohen’s work could appear just as clueless when he tackled other sensitive subjects, as when he wrote, “The first thing you should know about the so-called Steubenville Rape is that this was not a rape involving intercourse.”

All of these make more sense than anything Max Boot has written, before and after Trump. (The Steubenville Rape victim was "digitally penetrated" while passed out, and suffered some other indignities—which the teenagers who victimized her photographed—but she wasn't actually raped. See Black Father Of Black Steubenville Rapist Shoots White Judge for details, plus a surprising, even to me, racial angle.)

In defending George Zimmerman, who might better be described as "the man Trayvon Martin tried to kill," Cohen was making the point that Martin was dressed like a thug, even if you ignore the racial angle. Hoodies are not only associated with thug culture, they're a form of disguise, since they frequently conceal the face from the surveillance camera. If you're a white kid, you can dress like that and look really stupid, but if you're a black kid, when you dress like that you look dangerous. That's because,  so many kids who look like that are dangerous.

Here's my headline at the time: Breaking News: Richard Cohen Has Normal Opinions On Profiling! Should He Be Derbyshired?

And here's a gracious compliment to one of our writers from Dave Weigel.

And in 1984, when Cohen, who may have relatives in retail, wrote that jewelry store owners were being rational in not buzzing strange black men into their stores, he was thinking of customers like these guys: Four charged in VA jewelry store shooting, by Brecken Branstrator, NationalJeweler.com, May 8, 2014.

https://www.nationaljeweler.com/images/independents/050914_Arrests-Article.jpg

And victims like this guy: Left Behind in Detroit: Jewish Shopkeeper Nathan Feingold, 66, Beaten to Death in Antique Store He Owned for Over 30 Years.

But of course, this list of "controversial" things just means that Cohen, as an American from a former period of time, occasionally suffered a rush of good sense to the head.

Actual headline on the story about Cohen sympathizing with potential robbery and murder victims: Post Offers Apology to Blacks, UPI, October 6, 1986.

He did say a lot of stupid things over the years, though. See our archives here from earliest to latest.

Cohen  suggested renaming the J. Edgar Hoover building after Martin Luther King, he thought Mel Gibson’s Passion Of The Christ was “fascistic.” He wrote that "The opponents [of same-sex marriage] have no case other than ignorance and misconception and prejudice." He wrote that "The GOP has become a cult" which had replaced reason with "feverish" and "cockamamie beliefs.” That's all typical.

In the year 2000, Cohen penned an attack on then-NRA President Charlton Heston. [Heaven Help the Gun Nuts, by Richard Cohen, March 23, 2000]

Cohen just couldn't believe that anyone could possibly believe the things Heston said in his famous speech on America's Culture War.

The late Sam Francis wrote

Though I rarely agree with him, Cohen is one of my favorite columnists, not only because of his considerable writing talent but also because of his, well, innocence. It is his curse, if not his gift, to display to the world the way the unguarded liberal mind really works. Most other liberals have the prudence at least to try to hide those workings, but Cohen almost always lays them open like a child babbling family secrets. [Narrow-Minded Left Claims Monopoly On Moral Legitimacy, March 28, 2000]

Well, there are worse things than Richard Cohen. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a Max Boot stamping on the WaPo Op-Ed page—for another three years, until the Post goes out of business, like the Weekly Standard.

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