I’m an opinion journalist. The Washington Post‘s Richard Cohen is an opinion journalist. Most Americans don’t have a clue what that actually means.
So let’s break it down …
For the old people who read the front pages of an actual newspaper, you’re getting straight reporting on anything from the economy to politics, from food to obituaries. That’s pure journalism; no opinion, straight-up facts, sober reading (or at least it’s supposed to be). When you get to the back of the paper, you get opinion on all the crap in the front of the paper. So, front of the paper: reporting. Back of the paper: opinion.
It’s all journalism, though. Everyone has opinions, but not everyone has the Washington Post as its paid voice.
Take the Post’s Richard Cohen who penned this piece Monday. Cohen’s opinion? That New York City’s Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s interracial marriage makes “people with conventional views … repress a gag reflex.”
He treads into my home state of South Carolina, recalling memories of Strom Thurmond, Dixiecrats and “legal racism,” and he forces them to be the normal way of life in the 21st Century.
Cohen is right that there are pockets of bigots left across America, but he’s dead wrong that the country and all conservatives are against interracial marriage. Take this recent poll from my home state of South Carolina, hardly a liberal bastion: 83% of South Carolinians accept it.
I’d be wrong if I didn’t concede cultural conservatives across the country are opposed to marriage equality, to a woman’s right to privacy, etc. But here’s the rub: cultural conservatives make up a smaller and smaller number of the American electorate. Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs Poll conducted this past May is clear: 35% of Americans consider themselves “socially conservative or very conservative.”
So this is my opinion, Mr. Cohen. Maybe you should venture outside of the bubble from time to time and meet the rest of America. I’ll personally vouch for your safety and escort you down to South Carolina for an oyster and pig roast. We can drink some good bourbon, and I’ll introduce you to some of those conservatives (aka my typically weird southern family) who just don’t give a damn who you marry. Sure, you’ll see a few Confederate flags. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wear one on your lapel. Hell, you might even meet a few black people or God forbid, a gay or two (dirty little secret Mr Cohen, I’m a native SC sissy who hunts, fishes and lives in a restored log cabin in the Virginia mountains).
I appreciate Mr. Cohen’s concern for the plight of “conventional” Americans, but it’s past time for him to stop letting his 21st century mouth overload his 19th century ass. His track record on race isn’t stellar. There’s another dirty little secret I’ll clue Mr. Cohen and his new boss Jeff Bezos into: If this dribble keeps showing up on the back pages of the Washington Post, we don’t have to buy their paper anymore.
Jimmy Williams is a contributing editor at Hypervocal. Tweet him your own opinions at @jimmyspolitics.