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Richard Cohen Defends ‘Gag’ Column: ‘The Word Racist Is Truly Hurtful’

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen got some pushback (to put it extremely mildly) for a passage in a column he wrote that appeared to frame interracial marriage as something that “people with conventional views” would gag over. Cohen came out swinging in an interview with The Huffington Post today, denying the premise that he is racist in any way.

Cohen said right off the bat, “The word racist is truly hurtful… It’s not who I am. It’s not who I ever was. It’s just not fair. It’s just not right.”

Cohen contends that at no point did he express his own views on interracial marriage, his intent was to express “Tea Party extremism” and so he meant just to convey what tea partiers would view as “conventional.” That’s not to say Cohen thinks the entire tea party is racist, but he does believe that there is some racial animus in factions of the tea party.

And besides, as Cohen argues, if it was really that blatantly racist, no editor would have let it get printed that way.

“Nobody, not a single one of my editors — and believe me, they’re super sensitive to this sort of stuff — said, ‘Wait a minute.’ They all knew what I meant because of the context of the column. I was talking about tea party extremism. And it’s clear.”

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Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

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