Metro's Orange Line had originally been planned for Columbia Pike, the main thoroughfare through South Arlington, but the subway line was shifted to whiter North Arlington, which has experienced an economic boom as a result. Even today, a proposal for a Streetcar line down Columbia Pike -- a far less expensive alternative -- languishes amid complaints that the county shouldn't spend the money.
The reality is much worse in Richmond, Virginia's capital, where homage to the Confederacy is even more lavish. Along Monument Avenue, there are massive statues in honor of General Lee, Confederate President Davis and other Confederate luminaries.
After the end of Reconstruction, it took nearly a century -- and much more bloodshed -- for the United States to finally overturn Jim Crow laws and segregation. It was a bitter political struggle spearheaded by principled Republicans and Democrats operating at the national level. Again, the federal government intervened against recalcitrant white Southerners.
But the South's political structure continued to resist, this time by switching allegiances to a revamped Republican Party where opportunistic leaders such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan saw the potential to flip the electoral map by pandering to white racists, albeit with "race-neutral" code words.
One of the appeals from these Republican politicians was that government programs to help blacks would not resolve or ameliorate the legacies of slavery and segregation, that only a "cultural" shift would do, a "change of the heart."
Of course, waiting for that change meant that, in the meantime, blacks would be "stopped and frisked," charged with both petty and serious crimes, incarcerated at extraordinary rates, denied employment and voting rights once they got out, and left in poverty, without health-care and dying at a premature age.
But you can't expect Richard Cohen or idiots like him to grasp the scope of this national shame -- the gravity of this national scandal -- because he is too nervous when he sees a young black man in a hoodie.
Why the Dumbest?
If you're wondering the context of my 2007 article asking if Cohen was "the dumbest columnist ever," it was his fury over the conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney's aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for committing perjury and obstruction of justice in the exposure of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Libby had been one of the Bush administration officials who peddled Plame's covert identity to journalists in an effort to discredit her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, after he exposed one of the lies that President George W. Bush had cited to justify his invasion of Iraq.
Like many of his Inside-the-Beltway cohorts, Cohen defended Libby and denounced special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for daring to bring the charges against Libby, one of their beloved neocons. Cohen called the prosecution of Libby for lying about his role in unmasking Plame and destroying her career "a mountain out of a molehill."
Cohen also mocked Americans who thought the invasion of Iraq might have been a bad idea. "They thought -- if 'thought' can be used in this context -- that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show ... who knows? Something," Cohen wrote.
But Cohen's incompetence did not stop with his deference to political leaders who started wars on false pretenses. As a nationally syndicated columnist based at the Washington Post, Cohen had a remarkable record of getting nearly every major political development over the past couple of decades wrong.
For example, during the Florida recount battle in 2000, Cohen cared less about whom the voters wanted in the White House than the Washington insiders' certainty that George W. Bush would be a uniter, not a divider. "The nation will be in dire need of a conciliator, a likable guy who will make things better and not worse," Cohen wrote. "That man is not Al Gore. That man is George W. Bush."
After being installed in the White House by five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court -- after coming in second to Gore both nationally and (if all legal votes were counted) in Florida -- Bush became one of the most divisive -- and disastrous -- presidents in American history.
Bush treated his critics, including many national Democrats, with disdain, even questioning their patriotism for not marching in lockstep behind him. Most egregiously, he exploited the national mourning over the 9/11 attacks to justify the invasion of Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 but had been a longstanding target of the neoconservatives.