Richard Cohen doesn’t even understand how political racism works:
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.
Republican dog whistles are about strapping young bucks buying T-bone steaks with their welfare checks, not about middle-class black women marrying middle-class white men and raising a family together. I’m not excusing the wingers who vote against their own economic interests in order to deprive imaginary strapping young bucks of their imaginary gubmint flatscreen tvs, but I will admit that such wingers do probably comprise a majority of the Republican party. They certainly comprise a majority of the conservatives I know.
But I don’t think that opposing interracial marriage — especially, let’s be honest, when it’s a black woman and a white man — is anything like a conventional view anymore (yes, people suck, but American voters did elect a black president twice, so let’s not go overboard). And whether it’s a conventional view or not, how on earth can we say that the people who hold it aren’t racist?
Update. Just to be clear, what Cohen said is offensive not only because he’s excusing racist attitudes but also because he’s saying “conventional Iowans” have crazy racist attitudes that they probably don’t have for the most part. They may have some weird, fearful ideas about race — caused in part by constant exposure to stereotyping and fear-mongering in certain parts of the media — but this is not a nation of Klansmen. Not anymore. The attitude about marriage he describes is crazy, racist, and (fortunately) fringy too.