Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Richard Cohen continues the straw-man apocalypse.

In a column about Chris Christie and the Tea Party, Richard Cohen wrote,
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.
(Emphasis added.) While I have done my fair share of criticizing social conservatives, I try not to say anything about them that is either so breathtakingly clueless or so breathtakingly mendacious.

Cohen has backpedaled:

The column is about Tea Party extremism and I was not expressing my views, I was expressing the views of what I think some people in the Tea Party held.
While the backpedaled version clearly differs from what he originally wrote, it is not much better. By expressing the views that he thinks that some people in the Tea Party hold, he serves his readers idle speculation with a side order of nutpicking.

Also, some progressives have misinterpreted the above-quoted passage of Cohen's column as expressing his own views, which it plainly does not, and have thereby changed the meaning by 180°. Some people appear to spend every waking moment looking for things by which to be offended, no matter what the facts are.

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