Washington Post's Kathleen Parker Defends Trayvon Martin Racial Profiling As 'Common Sense'

FILE - In this file photograph taken Nov. 1, 2007, the masthead of The Washington Post is displayed on the office building, i
FILE - In this file photograph taken Nov. 1, 2007, the masthead of The Washington Post is displayed on the office building, in Washington. The Washington Post Co. is reporting a surge in second-quarter earnings, helped by a big jump in profits at its education division and lower expenses. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, file)

One day after Richard Cohen's incendiary column about Trayvon Martin, the Washington Post's Kathleen Parker defended the racial profiling of Martin as "common sense."

Parker wrote that the incident "never should have happened," but not before justifying George Zimmerman's suspicion of Martin, the unarmed teenager who he shot and killed.

"The point is that this is one of those rare instances in which everyone is right within his or her own experience," she said. "African Americans are right to perceive that Martin was followed because he was black, but it is wrong to presume that recognizing a racial characteristic is necessarily racist. It has been established that several burglaries in Zimmerman’s neighborhood primarily involved young black males."

This is not to justify what subsequently transpired between Zimmerman and Martin but to cast a dispassionate eye on reality. And no, just because a few black youths caused trouble doesn’t mean all black youths should be viewed suspiciously. This is so obvious a truth that it shouldn’t need saying and yet, if we are honest, we know that human nature includes the accumulation of evolved biases based on experience and survival. In the courtroom, it’s called profiling. In the real world, it’s called common sense.

The Post published the piece the day after Richard Cohen's column, which also supported the racial profiling of Martin. The longtime columnist argued that Zimmerman was right to be suspicious of Martin because he was wearing a hoodie, which he called "a uniform we all recognize."

"It's what's worn by a whole lot of thugs," Cohen wrote. "Look in the newspapers, online or on television: you see a lot of guys in the mugshots wearing hoodies."

His piece was met with backlash, but the Post defended its decision to run the column as a move to highlight "diverse points of view."

"I think if people want a 'conversation about race,' as is frequently suggested, they should be open to a range of views and perspectives," Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post's editorial page editor, told The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone. "We already have published multiple such views -- not only Richard Cohen’s, but Gene Robinson on the same page, Ruth Marcus and Jonathan Capehart and our own editorial the day before -- and we’ve got more coming."



Trayvon Martin Timeline