WaPo: If we’re gonna have a conversation …
posted at 1:31 pm on July 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
The Washington Post came under intense fire for a column today by Richard Cohen on the Zimmerman/Martin case. Cohen argued that Martin’s hoodie, adopted by activists in the case, was a contributing cause to his death, and that the statistics of crime demonstrated why Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin. The decision to publish the column prompted outrage, and the Huffington Post picked up on some of the social-media reaction:
“Richard Cohen’s not a racist, he just thinks it’s reasonable to assume young black men are all criminals,” tweeted Slate’s Matt Yglesias.
“I totally recognize the hoodie uniform,” tweeted The Washington Post’s own Ezra Klein. “I wore it at UC Santa Cruz. Weirdly, no one thought I was dangerous.”
“Washington Post is scared of young black men,” tweeted Circa editor-in-chief Anthony De Rosa.
And Washington City Paper editor Mike Madden tweeted his own summation of the piece: “Post columnist Richard Cohen: ‘… I am a racist.'”
Post editor sent an e-mail to HuffPo defending the decision to run the column — and noted that any conversation on this issue means that people need to be free to express themselves honestly. Hiatt ended with a response to the demands for political correctness in media, emphasis mine:
“If I had not published the column, just as many people would be asking why the Post can’t tolerate diverse points of view,” Hiatt said.
“I think if people want a ‘conversation about race,’ as is frequently suggested, they should be open to a range of views and perspectives. We already have published multiple such views — not only Richard Cohen’s, but Gene Robinson on the same page, Ruth Marcus and Jonathan Capehart and our own editorial the day before — and we’ve got more coming,” Hiatt continued. “If people don’t like a particular opinion, my feeling is they should respond to it, not seek to stifle it.“
Indeed. And part of that response can certainly entail editorial criticism of the Post and Hiatt, too. I don’t think Cohen’s column was terribly coherent, and it’s mainly irrelevant to the core events in this case. Still, I wish more media executives took that kind of approach to the PC enforcers. Too often, calls for “national conversations” are just disguised demands for one side to shut up.