Target: Martin Baron, Executive Editor of the Washington Post
Goal: Fire racist columnist for prejudiced article
In response to the George Zimmerman trial, columnist Richard Cohen published a racist and misleading column in the Washington Post. The column used racial biases and ignorant mathematical reasoning to try to normalize and justify racial profiling. Cohen argues that Trayvon Martin was “understandably suspected because he was black.” According to Cohen’s logic, you should assume any black man you meet is a criminal.
Cohen argues that American politicians are too worried about political correctness to admit that black males are more likely to be criminals. However, this basic assumption might not even be as statistically sound as Cohen indicates it is. For example, if you look at the rates of drug crimes, blacks and whites use drugs at rates that are proportionate to the population, yet blacks are at least four times as likely as whites to be incarcerated for a drug-related crime.
But even if Cohen’s prejudiced assumptions hold up, his claim that it is reasonable to assume that any black man you encounter is a criminal is based on a flawed interpretation of statistics. Even if black males commit higher rates of crime than other demographics, criminals still make up such a small percentage of all black men that it is simply illogical and unreasonable to assume that any black man you meet is a criminal.
Cohen’s column attempts to normalize racial profiling. In doing so, he perpetuates the racist assumption that black men are by in large criminals.
Cohen’s column lacks true evidence and statistical logic. He is only using his own biases as support for a seriously flawed argument. The Washington Post should not be giving a platform to such racist discourse. The National Review recently fired two writers for racist remarks. Sign the petition below to tell the Post to follow the same path and remove Cohen.
Dear Mr. Baron,
The racist remarks of Richard Cohen in his recent column about George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin are unacceptable and perpetuate myths about crime and race. In an attempt to justify racial profiling, Cohen claims that it was reasonable for Zimmerman to suspect Martin because black males are more like to be criminals than other demographics.
First of all, Cohen does not present compelling evidence to support his initial claim about crime rates amongst the African-American population. Further, even if his basic assumption that black men commit crimes at higher rates than other populations is true, it is not statistically accurate to say that it is reasonable to assume that a black man you come across is a criminal. The percentage of the population that are criminals is still too small for this to be a reasonable assumption.
The mathematical reasoning Cohen tries to employ is nonsensical and harmful, as it perpetuates racist notions like the idea that black men should be feared and racially profiled. Stop providing a platform for racist discourse. The paper has defended Cohen, and this is not an appropriate course of action. I urge you to apologize for the column and remove Cohen from the Post’s staff.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: dionhinchcliffe via Flickr