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Richard Cohen is acting out again

My two-year-old has become very interested in what I call "We Don'ts." He likes to articulate all the rules of our household, even those he has so far honored only in the breach. "We don't climb the bookcase," he will intone solemnly. "We don't take off our diaper." "We don't throw food on the floor."

One way of looking at Richard Cohen's recent output, in his role as perhaps the least well-loved of Washington Post opinion columnists, is as an elaborate cry for help, a testing-of-boundaries familiar to parents of young children. Kids test their parents' resolve because, deep down, they need to know that there are secure limits in place. There are things we don't do, and it's not up to the kid to decide what they are. But poor Richard Cohen has been publishing his inane and shockingly out-of-touch commentary for decades, and there seems to be no one at the Post willing to lay down the law. "Now, Richard," someone surely ought to have said long before now, "we don't defend racism. We don't get all huffy when people point out that we're saying something racist. And we don't mistake our very narrow, totally incurious point of view for 'conventional wisdom.'"

We don't, but Cohen does, over and over. And today he managed to say something horrifying in an otherwise totally ignorable column about how, based on some Googling, he doesn't think Chris Christie would do well in the Iowa caucuses.

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. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

Actually, Richard Cohen, we don't gag when we think about biracial families. And if we do, then in fact we are racist. That's what racism is.

Cohen is not wrong that many cultural (and political) conservatives find Bill de Blasio alarming. He is wrong to think that "Ew, gross, a white man married to a black woman and their half-white, half-black kids, how disgusting" is in any way a "conventional" view. Someone (Fred Hiatt) really ought to fire Richard Cohen already. We don't benefit from his take on current events. We really don't.

Update: Please also read Jason Linkins: Here's a Crazy Idea I Just Had: Someone Should Maybe Edit the Washington Post

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MWR:  Are you really shocked that Richard Cohen, and the ever increasingly corporate-dominated Washington Post by implication, mouths the latent racism just below the surface of our political discourse in the public commons?  Where have you been?

I cut my "reading" teeth back in the days of being a newspaper boy delivering the WP every morning growing up in suburban Maryland - I know that really dates me.  But the WP has always had room for hacks like Cohen.  If you think his domestic political commentary is racist, you should read over the years all the nasty things he has said about Palestinians, Arabs and muslims in general.  Cohen is a shill for the right-wing Israeli lobby  - he never has uttered a bad word about Bibi Netanyahu and his lust for the destruction of Iran.

It is amazing how the media just doesn't know how to deal with the complicated relationships and configurations of most American families when presented with a Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray, and their extraordinary children.

Hey Cohen, you should travel out here to white-minority California.  You need a real dose of the coming reality of America. 

Spot-on.

Mollie - just basing this on the context of the rest of his column: I think (I think), by "conventional views", he means, "the conventional views of someone who votes in the Iowa GOP caucuses".  While we don't have any reason to suppose that his familiarity with the attitudes of actual Iowans runs any deeper than the newspaper column results of a Google search (presumably that is how they were taught to research a column when he was a young man), I don't think he meant the conventional views of the country as a whole.  

FWIW, I think that de Blasio's raised public profile will help shape the conventional views of Americans as a whole, in a way that we would view as positive.  

The whole column comes across as lazy/breezy.  He spends most of it overestimating the importance of the Iowa GOP caucuses (whose only real function is to give unwarranted and temporary credibility to Christian conservative candidates who haven't a prayer of succeeding in a GOP primary, much less a general election), but then comes to a reasonable, or at least defensible, conclusion - it wouldn't hurt Christie to skip Iowa.  (So maybe he's overrating Iowa's importance?)  Now, as it happens, my expectation would be that, should Christie decide to run, he'd make a beeline for Iowa, because when it comes to retail politicking, he's the undisputed heavyweight champ.  If Cohen can somehow be motivated to do just a bit more Googling, he might come around to my way of thinking.

 

Molly,

I find Cohen to be almost unreadable (I'm reminded of the late George Fraizer's description  of William Safire as" the New York Times' practicing illiterate") but I didn't read this quite as harshly as you did.  When I read the full column I read the selection you posted as being attributed to Iowa GOP voters and the reference to conventional views meant conventional among those voters.  Not well written I concede, though.  For what it is worth, I  think the entire basis of the modern conservative Republican movement is largely racist, so thinking that its members would gag at the thought of a Black woman and a white man having biracial children hardly seems a bridge too far. 

Agree that the GOP is racist.  That accounts for the hatred of Obama.  For a columnist (even one who would stoop so low as to use Google) to take that for granted should not surprise anyone. 

 

Paul Farhi embarrasses himself here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/controversy-over-richard-cohens-comments-on-the-de-blasio-family/2013/11/12/3c37f900-4bda-11e3-ac54-aa84301ced81_story.html?hpid=z3

Though God knows Hamilton Nolan will lose a meal ticket if Cohen goes the way of the dodo.

More disturbing is "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" being sold for $142,405,000. It is a definitive act of a gilded age which cares more about money and vanity than about people. 

Thanks for this terrific post.  I don't think this point can be made too emphatically:  "...we don't gag when we think about biracial families. And if we do, then in fact we are racist. That's what racism is."

Richard Cohen has made his living based on his ability to express opinions via the written word.  And he's certainly entitled to make mistakes, just as much as anyone else.

But here's the thing:  when confronted with the undeniable fact that he called racism not-racism, Cohen's response is not to apologize, but to attack his critics in (what seems to be) a perverse attempt to avoid having to reckon with what he actually wrote.

Did anyone read Cohen's column? Mollie, I think you owe him an apology.

As I read Cohen he is just presenting some racist thinking that he himself disapproves of.  To say that someone says or thinks something is not to agree with it.  Or do you all find Cohen ambiguous?

Ann,

I've read the column 3 times, each time coming to the same conclusion--it's racist. Perhaps the reason so many people believe it racist was Cohen's use of the words conventional and gag. I also wonder if his paranthetically noting Chirlane McCray's homosexuality, added fuel to the fire.

@Ann Olivier (11/13, 1:16 am)  Thanks for your question.  I have no idea what's in Cohen's heart or his head, so I'm not saying (and I don't think Mollie, nor most critics of Cohen's column) that Cohen "is a racist".

But there is (in my view) no disputing the excellent point Mollie makes:  "...we don't gag when we think about biracial families. And if we do, then in fact we are racist. That's what racism is."  This is, I think, the heart of the matter.

Cohen wrote a column in which he called racism "not-racism".  People are (appropriately) criticizing him for that.  His reaction (so far) is to defend himself, rather than acknowledge his (egregious) mistake.  For which he can (in my opinion) appropriately be criticized even more harshly.

Mollie: In the spirit of playing the Devil's Advocate here, I would suggest that the following words in square brackets clarify what Richard Cohen meant to say:

"People with conventional [Tea Party] views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York -- a white man married to a black woman with two biracial children."

Next, we should consider whether or not people with conventional Tea Party views have a gag reflex to biracial children.

President Barack H. Obama is a biracial child -- the child of a white woman who was married to a black man.

Now, could we say that people with conventional Tea Party views have a gag reflex to Barack Obama?

Or is it unfair to people with conventional Tea Party views to characterize them as having the kind of gag reflex that Richard Cohen evidently attributes to them?

 

The Jason Linkins piece makes a good point, but takes an entire column to ask a question for which I need just four words: Where was the editor?

@Jim Pauwels (11/13, 10:06 am)  The editor, Fred Hiatt, has since said, "I erred in not editing that one sentence more carefully to make sure it could not be misinterpreted.”

“I think he is a terrific columnist,” Hiatt added. “I’m very happy to have him in the Post.” 

Cohen's publisher, Katherine Weymouth, thought the column was "brilliant".

"Actually, Richard Cohen, we don't gag when we think about biracial families. And if we do, then in fact we are racist."

I think you may have misunderstood the paragraph.  Cohen was ascribing those reactions to Republicans, not to everyone with "conventional views."

Columnists (and bloggers) often exaggerate a little or a lot to make a point.  Imho, the best way to avoid swallowing the bait is to avoid the columnist.  There are several at the WP that I can't stand and don't read:  Sally Quinn (for many reasons), Eugene Robinson (for joining the Obama campaign's calumny against Hillary Clinton in 2008), Kathleen Parker (yuck), et al.

Cohen got a lot of publicity from that column.  He must be thrilled with all who joined the 

"willful-seeming, mob-like misreading of a piece of writing in the service of self-satisfied smugness, . . ."

That was from J. Bryan Lowther at Slate.  

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2013/11/12/richard_cohen_s_racist_int...

It was just one of nearly a million leads that come up from Googling (eeww) "richart cohen racist."

https://www.google.com/search?q=richard+cohen+racist&oq=richard+cohen+ra...

Stephanie --

Yes, the words are racist, extremely so,  but as I read them in context Cohen is saying "See -- this is the way those Republicans think: . . . " It's as if I had said, "Stephanie thinks that Cohen thinks that the moon is made of cream cheese".  That oesn't mean *you* think the moon is made of cream cheese.

Slate reporter/columnist Dave Weigel's view:  "...the problem with Cohen's column was that he made an assertion about an entire class of people being racist, and did no work to prove it."

And from The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates:  "The problem here isn't that we think Richard Cohen gags at the sight of an interracial couple and their children. The problem is that Richard Cohen thinks being repulsed isn't actually racist, but "conventional" or "culturally conservative." Obstructing the right of black humans and white humans to form families is a central feature of American racism. If retching at the thought of that right being exercised isn't racism, then there is no racism."

 

Dave Weigel's ageism is shocking.  Where was his editor?  

And why should Cohen have to "prove" that "an entire class of people" is racist?  Haven't they made that abundantly clear with birtherism, gerrymandering, vote suppression, etc., etc., etc.?

The fact that Cohen has defendors here shows how crafty he is. Yet as the Huffinton Post points out the use of the phrase "Gag Reflex" with reference to racism gives him away. Cohen defended himself against the charges that the article was not offensive. Too late he should have know better. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/12/richard-cohen-racist-defends-interracial-marriage_n_4262215.html

Thanks to the magic of syndication, Cohen's column was published in local newspaper this morning.

Meant to say, "our local newspaper".  Where was my editor?

There are a couple of overlapping problems with Cohen's column, and I am going to try to explain again what they are and what they are not. Cohen did not say "I find interracial families disgusting." He did, however, say that Republican voters with conventional views are disgusted by interracial families. Which is a big, surprising claim for a columnist to make, to put it mildly. If Cohen really believes that to be true, and if he is aware that it is 2013 and not, say, 1860, he should be writing a whole column exposing that appalling strain of racism in American society, not tossing it in as if it were a known fact that needs no establishing.

Cohen went further, though; he not only said something quite inaccurate about social conditions in contemporary America; he said that the people who think that way are "not racist." He said so explicitly. He even scoffed at Harry Belafonte -- there's a link in the original, to a squib about Belafonte using the term "white supremacist" while stumping for de Blasio. Whatever the facts may be about that incident, "white supremacist" happens to be the correct term for someone who objects to the mingling of the races. Not "cultural conservative." So, in addition to being totally wrong about popular opinion in America generally, Cohen also has trouble identifying racism, even as he seems to believe that textbook racism is far more commonplace than most of us would suggest. And this is not a one-time slip, as Coates pointed out. It's a theme that occurs again and again in Cohen's columns. He should be fired for being irredeemably clueless about many of the things an opinion columnist must be good at, especially an opinion columnist who wishes to write about race.

This is another edition of "What Mollie Said".

(More, please.)

A columnist should be fired for doing his job?

An opinion writer should lose his livelihood for expressing his opinion?

 

Sure, why not? "Columnist" isn't exactly a sacred vocation, and a whole slew of factors should go into assessing whether a writer is satisfactory on the job. Being a racist crank whose finger is too shaky to find a culture's pulse, and who can't be bothered to express himself coherently or adequately represent others should be enough to get someone canned.

Just saw this piece from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, which does a very good job explaining the things I tried to explain above. It's called "Is Richard Cohen a Racist?" but it notes, correctly, that that isn't really the right question to ask.

The issue isn't that Cohen is a racist. It's that he holds his position of vast influence while living in some older white man's cocoon, liberalish in a way but not much, in which he's either indifferent or unconcerned with the actual America around him and routinely jumps at the chance to normalize and legitimize retrograde views about race. The problem with the article isn't racism but inaccuracy, both descriptive and moral. And the complacent inaccuracy makes it worthy of criticism and contempt.

   

Another ageist blogger who lifts a sentence out of the paragraph in which it appeared, making it seem that Cohen was talking about all people who hold conventional views instead of the group he specified, "Today's GOP."

(But I don't think Marshall should be fired.)

Mollie, you wrote:

Cohen went further, though; he not only said something quite inaccurate about social conditions in contemporary America; he said that the people who think that way are "not racist." He said so explicitly. He even scoffed at Harry Belafonte -- there's a link in the original, to a squib about Belafonte using the term "white supremacist" while stumping for de Blasio. Whatever the facts may be about that incident, "white supremacist" happens to be the correct term for someone who objects to the mingling of the races. Not "cultural conservative."

This is very much in line with Ta-NeHisi Coates' take: 

"The problem here isn't that we think Richard Cohen gags at the sight of an interracial couple and their children. The problem is that Richard Cohen thinks being repulsed isn't actually racist, but "conventional" or "culturally conservative." Obstructing the right of black humans and white humans to form families is a central feature of American racism.

While I would not go very far to defend Cohen, and as I noted above, there are other reasons to dismiss the column, I do think that both you and Coates are misreading him in this, or at least reading him in a light that is not the most charitable.  

Here is the passage in question:

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 

This requires a fair bit of disentangling.  There are three separate subjects/groups here, named in quick succession.  Here they are, with the way that I think Cohen is categorizing them:

* The GOP - according to Cohen, not racist

* The tea party  - according to Cohen, racist in Harry Belafonte's view, although from what I can tell, Belafonte actually seems to have said that about the Koch Brothers, not the tea party

* Folks who live in a culture in which it is conventional/normative to gag when considering the mayor-elect of New York - presumably racist in Cohen's view, although he doesn't explicitly say so

Now, it's conceivable that all three of Cohen's assertions, as I've broken them out here, are wrong.  The third one, about cultural conventions, almost certainly is wrong.  But what I don't see Cohen claiming in this passage is that people who gag at the thought of a white man marrying a black woman aren't racist.   

Anyway, that's plenty by me on this topic.   

 

 

Cohen's metier is writing.  He is a writer, and his work load is pretty light -- a couple of columns per week.  He also has editors who are paid to peruse his work and find and at least ask him about perceived "ambiguities."  So I think the ordinary reader is more than justified in not cutting Cohen slack for "indelicate" phrasing. 

Second, here is the logic string of Cohen's thinking:  The tea infused Republican party ISN'T RACIST --- Cohen said that -- but is "troubled."  (When I hear the word troubled as a defense to bad behavior my mind wanders to juveniles being tried as adults who would be only too happy to be granted the benefit of such doubts.)  Only after stipulating "no racism" does Cohen then state how "conventional people" must "gag" and so on.  How can such conventional people, even if they are the subset of Iowa tea party voters Cohen is talking about, not be racist if they are gagging at dark and light people marrying each other? 

Third, he specifically identifies DeBlasio's family by name and circumstance -- a tactless and really gratuitous example in my view that probably tells us as much about Cohen as it does about Iowa tea partiers.

Cohen's best defense is that he was phoning it in and isn't really thinking too deeply when he writes this stuff, basically relying on editors to make his thoughts less offensive.  Okay Richard, here's how I give people like you the benefit of the doubt: when the question calls for a choice between stupid and malicious, stupid is usally the correct answer.  You're stupid because you say stupid things.  So retire already.

Barbara - you've nailed it.  

 

Many have expressed outrage at an opinion column by an opinion columnist.  But that's what op-ed writers (and bloggers) do.  They write stuff to get a reaction, to get hits on the web site, to get comments, to keep their moribund periodicals alive.

Old man Cohen's editors must be delighted with the attention.

I didn't like his column because I don't like columns in which thoughts or words are ascribed to others.  Let the columnist or blogger say what S/HE thinks or feels.  Creating a puppet to say the ventriloquiest's words is cowardly.  E.g., Ta-Nahisi Coates wrote new words for Cohen and put them in quotation marks.

“Right. I’m not racist. I just don’t recognize my country. Also, the sight of you, and your used-to-be-lesbian black wife, and your brown children make me sick to my stomach. It’s not like I want to lynch you or anything.”

Do those who disapprove of Cohen's lame column approve of Coates's piggybacking on it with her version of what he didn't say?

(Imho, the most amusing thing about the tempest is how many who are howling about racism have revealed their own AGEISM.) 

Gerelyn is right. Cohen clearly suffers from a disease (Yelling at Clouds Sydrome, or YACS for short), otherwise known as old-white-manititis, and he deserves our sympathy, not scorn.

 

 

Gerelyn - just speaking for myself, I thought Coates' piece was flawed - not to mention overly profane - and those flaws undercut its effectiveness.  

Regarding ageism - maybe I'll say something here that will make you think I'm ageist, too.  Most white people haven't walked in a black person's shoes, and unless our powers of empathy are above-average, we find it difficult to grasp what it must be to like to live on the other side of the racial/social/cultural divide, every single moment of every single day.  I think this difficulty may be more pronounced for older white people (I'm no spring chicken myself), as we've seen tremendous changes in social attitudes over the course of our lives, which we don't have the advantage of viewing completely objectively, because we live in the midst of them ourselves.

 Also, white people of a certain age are encumbered by the history we've lived through.  I am not referring here to the great events of the civil rights movement write large, although they intersected our lives, and  Cohen's life spans those times.  I'm referring more to our personal histories, the reality of living through times of heightened racial tension.  Cohen may have deplored race riots and the attitudes and customs that spawned them, but  it's one thing to think about such things as they're described in a book that one reads in the comfort and safety of one's study years after the fact, and it's another to actually live and go about in a city where black people and white people cross paths all the time and fought one another very recently.  I grew up in the 1960s in a white family of good will, in which the n-word was never spoken, but whenever we drove through a black neighborhood, my parents told us to roll up the windows and lock the car doors.  How can something like that not make an impression on a kid in some way?  

Every white American who lived through those days was affected by the reality of racial tension in some personal way. Reading some of Cohen's columns over the years that Coates linked to, the fear of black persons seems to jump off the screen.  How many older white people share that fear?  All of us?

For many of us, our journey toward more racial enlightenment has been one of recognizing that we carry this baggage, confronting it, figuring out how to cast it aside, and finding something better to carry about with us.  Some of us do this better than others.  I believe our society is filled with older white people of good will who want to live and do and think what's right.  If we white people were more imaginative and empathetic and less stupid, maybe we'd be less prone to say and do stupid and hurtful things.   

Richard Cohen has been criticized for writing a number of things on racial topics that miss the mark (see Coates' column for some examples; Cohen's Wikipedia page has others).  I think Cohen is a white person of good will whose racial views aren't perfectly enlightened - they're not fully formed.  Probably like a lot of white people of good will, it's not self-evident to him that a black person who goes into a jewelry store shouldn't be suspected of being a thief, or that Travyon Martin should have been entitled to the benefit of the doubt.  

 

Thanks, Abe!

Click the link below to see the 152 million results that come up from Googling "richard cohen old."  (And notice in the sidebar the OTHER old men  "People also search for" when thinking of Cohen.

https://www.google.com/search?site=&source=hp&q=richard+cohen+old+&oq=ri...

 

Coates is a he not a she.  There is no question that Coates is putting in quotes what, from his perspective, he "heard" Cohen saying. 

I don't buy that Cohen's age means anything.  What I find offensive about this column is that he feels the need to state what he considers not to be racist -- for reasons that have no real bearing on the substance of what he is saying -- and also for using the image of "gagging."  I don't even think that's accurate.  I assume what he really meant -- and shame on him for being such a poor writer -- is that for some people interracial couples are sort of like turning on the lights in your house by remote control when you didn't even have electricity when you were growing up.  Or maybe the football coach watching his grandchildren playing soccer with enthusiasm.  It's a reminder of how much has changed, and for some people, ANY change is reflexively bad.  Some people react to this like children throwing tantrums over their lack of control over their environment, however, good people can and do accept that some change has been for the better or at most just doesn't really matter to THEM.  

Moreover, why is it that people who accept the arguably much greater changes wrought by technology on their lives -- after all, they are not adopting the Amish model for reacting to technology -- so unable to accept greater participation of "others" in society, participation that inevitably leads to things like marriage?  This isn't just a here and now story -- my mother's generation was the first generation in her family that married people with non-German heritage.  Everyone got over it, probably even before the wedding had occurred.  This is about maintaining an order in which certain people are considered being worthy members of "our" tribe (or as Cohen said rather infelicitously "our country").

It's the continuing focus on THIS kind of change being particularly and maybe even uniquely unacceptable to certain cohorts of people that carries the charge of racism.

Also, white people of a certain age are encumbered by the history we've lived through.

Hi, Jim.  

I don't regard the history I've been fortunate enough to live through as an encumbrance, but rather as a great gift.  Being old, having seen a lot and had time to read and hear about a lot more, is great.  

During the years I observed the changes in attitudes about race, women, gay people, etc., I also observed the change in the attitude toward the old.  It has deteriorated to the point where it is today, as demonstrated so vividly in the vicious slurs about old white men, old uncles at Thanksgiving, etc., etc.  

(I guess I've been most shocked by the hatred of old nuns expressed on various Catholic message boards and displayed so powerfully by the Vatican's investigation.)

(Just a suggestion to the young:  instead of hating the old, talk to them.  You might be amazed, as I was a few weeks ago when I called a 92-year-old cousin, at the family history they know, the details they recall about your parents and grandparents, etc. that will be forever lost when they are gone.)  

Gerelyn, I'm sure you're right about the worsening attitude toward the old., and that it does even descend to viciousness on occasion.  Apparently, Pope Francis agrees, as he named it one of the chief problems of our time.

 

Good news: The Colbert Report did a segment on the Cohen controversy (with "Stephen Colbert" taking Cohen's side against the liberal-media attack mob, of course). It's wonderful.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/14/stephen-colbert-richard-cohen_n_4274733.html

There’s a very highly regarded 1953 Japanese movie, Tokyo Story, directed by Yasujiro Ozu, that’s about the indifference of a trio of adult children to their elderly parents.  “Attention must be paid,” says Willy Loman’s wife to their children in Death of a Salesman, but here the children are too preoccupied with their own lives to make the time.

 

The larger themes are the transience of life, loneliness and selfishness.  Its very poignant. 

 

You can watch it with English subtitles here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLTjojvakf4

^Oh yeah, Dick Cohen makes me think of Ozu, too. It's their shared understated natures.

^Who's Dick Cohen?  Somebody I should know?

Sorry, not interested in beating the crap out of Cohen, but be my guest.

 But what Gerelyn and Jim Pauwels were talking about in their last comments did catch my attention.

Gerelyn ==

I agree with much of what you say about ageism.  But highly negative views of the old began in the '60s.  Remember the slogan, "Never trust anyone older than 30".   Sort of ironic, isn't it.

@Ann Olivier:

In the 60s?  I hope you don't mean the 1960s.  The stock character of the senex in Plautus and Terence did not often invite respect.  Ditto for the ridiculous viejo in Spanish comedies of the age of Lope and Calderón.  Then there's Shakespeare, who admittedly expressed quite varied attitudes to those of mature years, but to whom the "crabbed age and youth" verses were (questionably) attributed: "...Age, I do abhor thee; Youth, I do adore thee..."

As for the supposed slogan about not trusting those over 30, the real irony is the original context.  Some opponents of the Free Speech Movement, who saw a Commie behind every countercultural statement, tried to dismiss the unsettling college students as dupes of sinister and older ideologues.  Jack Weinberg, then only six years away from the fatal birthday, came up with the formula in exasperation during an interview with a reporter: http://www.bartleby.com/73/1828.html .