Talk:William Cohen

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To: Whom it concerns I just visited this page to find that it had been vandalized by redirecting it to a site which is most unsuitable for minors... please correct this.

William Cohen, a well documented denier of the Armenian Genocide stood in front of TV cameras at the National Press Club in Washington on November 13th, 2007 to declare that he with Madeleine Albright are co-chairing a new "Genocide Prevention Task Force." As soon as the two former high-ranking officials finished delivering their opening remarks at the press conference, skeptical members of the press and activists questioned their sincerity and pointed out their hypocrisy. This exchange was covered extensively by CNN, AFP, AP, The Jerusalem Post, Huffington Post.

This doesn't seem very fair (pointing out hypocrisy, accusing him of being a Holocaust denier). Seems a bit harsh for an encyclopedia. I don't know how to do anything on this though, so I just thought maybe this would bring it to someone's attention —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:09, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Why is this unfair? Mr. Cohen has repeated aided and abated Turkey's campaign of denial of the Armenian Genocide. As for the Holocaust, I not familiar with any denial of that on his part. This needs to be in the open and not something that is stashed away in the talk pages in order to whitewash Cohen's reputation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:10, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Quote from Fox News[edit]

Whoever linked Cohen's quote to the article on "total war" - very clever. I changed it to the more appropriate "Conscription in the United States," although I appreciate the effort you are putting into vandalism (as much as I personally agree with your sentiment).

I've just finished a book review of his latest, "Love in Black and White." He makes it clear that though he is ethnically Jewish, he is not a practicing Jew. (The info below about him being denied a bar mitzvah is correct. It was very hurtful to him at the time, as he was top of his class in Hebrew school.) He gives no hint of being a Unitarian. From what I gather about him, he'd probably reply to this question by asking, "Why is it important?"Editunited 16:40, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Cohen Jewish?[edit]

As far as I know, Secretary Cohen is not Jewish, either by ethicity or faith. Can anyone find solid evidence to confirm or disprove? —thames 18:49, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"William S. Cohen was born on August 28, 1940 in Bangor, Maine. His father Reuben, a baker, was a Russian-Jewish immigrant and his mother, Clara, is of Irish-Protestant extraction." from [1]. I'm not sure how much it helps. Acegikmo1 21:00, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Well that certainly helps with the question of his Jewish ethnicity (half in this case it appears). Still not sure on whether we should include him under the category of Jewish Americans. As far as I can tell he doesn't identify himself as Jewish, and he may not practice Judaism. Until we can confirm one way or the other I think we should wait on the Cat. —thames 01:17, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
We can probably say as much, that he has a Jewish father. Since his mother is apparently not, only Reform Judaism would recognize him as Jewish, and even then only if he chose to be. I question his being in Jewish-American groups. --BDD 00:49, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
While his father is Jewish, he has not self-identified as Jewish since he was denied a bar mitzvah by a rabbi at 13 (because, as BDD correctly stated, without a Jewish mother, he is not Jewish by birth, and would need to convert).[2] As such, I think he probably should not be in the "Jewish-American" category. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jai Krishnan (talkcontribs) 23:05, October 3, 2006 (UTC)
Why is Secretary Cohen on the list of Unitarian Universalists? I've never read anything suggesting that's what his religious affiliation is. As for his being Jewish, I don't mean to be insensitive, but his last name is Cohen, I don't think he's Finnish. The web site lists his religion as Judaism. Even if he isn't a practicing Jew, I don't think his ancestry is debatable. I'd appreciate it if somebody gave me a link on the Unitarian thing. --Wgbc2032 03:55, October 29, 2006
You're not being insensitive, just ignorant. He is not Jewish by any standard (bigoted standards don't count), even the most lenient that allows for "paternal descent", because those Jews who recognize the paternal Jewishness as having any bearing also demand that said "Jew" live as a Jew, which he does not. And yes, Jews can be Finnish. The name "Cohen" does not denote nationality of any kind, and, as can be seen this case, does not even automatically denote religion..FlaviaR 13:57, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

it's a well known jewish name. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:48, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Political Beliefs[edit]

What are they? One would think he's somewhat of a moderate. --BDD 00:49, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

My best guess is that William Cohen is indeed a Unitarian Universalist (UU) as am I. I recall he had an article in UU World magazine. The thing that makes UU's different from more orthodox religions is that they have evolved beyond a historical beleif in one God and Universal Salvation. Instead of demanding a theological belief UU's agree to adhere to a set of seven principles. A look at and The Seven Principles may give an insight into the political beliefs of Mr. Cohen. Grandma's Kid


Why was he in the ROTC for only a day? I believe this needs further explanation... It is both unusual and worthy of mention, especially because he was Secretary of the Defense. Stevenmitchell 14:29, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

I've Googled it and can't find anything. It should also be mentioned that while he may have served only one day in the ROTC, he served on both the Senate Intelligence and Senate Armed Services Committees. I'm going to remove this statement unless a source can be provided. --tomf688 (talk - email) 15:17, 11 June 2006 (UTC)


What is the logic behind having a clearly aged photograph of William Cohen from his DOD days, instead of an updated one that also symbolizes what Cohen's life is doing now--and not his past? These pages are supposed to be kept current; not as paens to past glories. I understand the official photo being the gateway photo when there is none other availble; but there is. The official photo is very dated--I feel it should be replaced with whatever the most current that is available. For anyone. I'm not going to wrestle over it, but there's my two cents. --DavidShankBone 00:48, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

My mistake - I shot off my mouth by only lookiing at the history. I think the wife photo does work better under recent, and I noticed the move of the older photo. The people who care about this page may want to tone down the px's on the photos so they don't overwhelme the text, just as a suggestion. Sorry for not looking before writing. --DavidShankBone 00:51, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
I've taken out an image and spaced them out more. I also uploaded your images to the commons. Thanks for the contributions. --tomf688 (talk - email) 01:26, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
My reasoning behind keeping the DoD photo first is the photo represented pertains directly to infobox below it. If there were no infobox then I think it would be appropriate to show a current photo of Cohen to lead the article. For example, if one goes to Bill Clinton's page you would not see the lead photo of an aged president but his official portrait. That is the standard throughout wikipedia and should remain for consistency.BCV 06:36, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

I disagree with the infobox argument. Infoboxes don't distort WP policy to have the most updated and accurate information and imagery in the articles. If the infobox is meant to be a shrine to his tenure at DOD, then it should not be in the lead, but more towards that section of the article. Also, in an e-mail from Janet Langhart, she thanked me for replacing that photo of him. These people have moved on in their lives and pursuing other interests for which they want recognition. I think it's unfair to enshrine him for his time in the pentagon, which is going to on a eight years or so. That's my argument. The lead photo should be the most current one we have available that demonstrates the subject of the article. I respect your point of view and understand why you would think otherwise in relation to an infobox, but that only makes the infobox's location a problem, which is easily rectified. Keep up the great work. Dave --DavidShankBone 01:12, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

The Bill Clinton thing misses the point, but I would rather see an aged person than the official presidential portrait. But I would also prefer to see a portrait, and not one of him walking down a tarmac, etc. There is a second point here: Two editors have voice a preference (one editor by keeping it the lead photograph but moving the husband/wife shot) for it to be at the lead, and one editor--you--keep reverting it back without discussing this issue further. Why are you being so heavy-handed when for now I see no other support for your position. We are supposed to be making these decisions by consensus, not revert wars, which is what you are engaging in. If everyone else wants a photo at the lead that no longer resembles the article's subject, then can I hear them voiced? Because to me it doesn't make sense. The Bill Clinton photo issue may be because there is a lack of un-copyrighted portrait work that we can use, so the federal government issued ones are convenient. But that doesn't make them preferred when more updated photographs become available. But right now, there are two editors who have made edits with the new photo in the infobox and one editor who wants it kept. So where do we go from here, since you are determined to have your way while the discussion takes place. --DavidShankBone 16:01, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
That argument does not hold up in the context of figures in government. Go try to replace a photo of any living former President with an up to date photo and it will be reverted back as it should. It must be about the photos and not the content because the last photos were switched without regard for the captioning. Cohen may move on in his life but until he holds an office higher than DoD, it is his Pentagon career that will most likely define him. Again your photo is included in the section about his post government career which is the appropriate section for it. The infobox should contain his official DoD photo and be at the top of the page. BCV 16:05, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
The photo's of the book signing are good, and have a place in wikipedia, that place is in the recent years section not in the Secretary of Defense info box. Of course we could move the info box, delete it or put a photo of William Cohen in it that is not him when he was secretary of defense. I choose to put a government issued photo of William Cohen when he was Secretary of Defense in the Secretary of Defense info box that should not be a controversial issue. BCV 16:14, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Why do you think a person who serves as Secretary of Defense is on par with the President of United States? Should Paul O'Neill be forever remembered for his year in Washington?

I respect your viewpoint, BCV, but who are you to write their obituary before they die? Who are you to say William Cohen will be most known, forever, as Secretary of Defense? In fact, it was pretty unmemorable (<sigh>...I miss the Clintong years).

For President, I understand because for a moment in time each president *was* the country. But should Henry Kissinger's page forever have his 1970's govt photo? Look, I'm going to let you decide this issue and back out, b/c I just don't care. But I want to point out two arguments: 1. You have decided before a person dies that they will most be remembered for what you have deemed for yourself; 2. Even if you are self-appointed "Ultimate Judge" of that persons accomplishments and achievements, forever comparing them against what you, yourself, feel was their crowning glory, how does that make Wikipedia accurate? How does your opinion alone build consensus? Why should you answer logicial and valid questions with inapt comparisons b/w the US President and the Defense Secretary as if they are equal. Do you feel Tony Blair and David Omand are of apt comparison? You can look at other pages, but remember most of those photographs are the only ones available. Frankly, I would prefer to have an updated Robert McNamara photo.

Seriously, I respect your point of view and understand it. But I personally like the idea of Wikipedia as a communal repository of knowledge. You are doing that BCV, but unlike Encyclopedia Britttanica, we want to be relevant. We don't want to tell William Cohen, "you will never be more than you were at this moment." Possibly he is more proud of his writing than he is of his DOD role. I don't know, but what if...? Another example to view is the KISS page. The lead photo is from 2004 because the opening is supposed to be current. After that, it's 70's KISS galore. I get where you're coming from, but I think we need to be more on WP than deciding a person has reached their pinnacle before they have even died. Don't you agree? By the way, I have no opinion of William Cohen - simply took his picture. I just think leads should be most recent. Look at Tommy Chong and you'll see the photo I put up, and the one under it was originally the main. Which would you prefer?--DavidShankBone 06:14, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

William Cohen's Photograph[edit]


BCV and I are having a months-long dispute as to whether a 10 year old photograph should be used, or a current photograph. I would like other editors to weigh in on whether they think an old photograph, or a new photograph, should be used as the introductory photograph.

1. William Cohen is currently writing fiction, and he no longer resembles the photograph from his Defense Secretary days in the 1990s.
2. An encyclopedia is only as useful as it is updated. The introductory photograph should be the most updated photograph available. Available - just because other Defense Secretaries don't have updated photographs doesn't mean they aren't merited - it means Caspar Weinberger hadn't done anything photo-worthy, and that a person who did take a photograph doesn't think to upload it to Wikipedia.
3. BCV is deciding his Secretary of Defense days are the most important, when perhaps his TWENTY years in the Senate (as opposed to FOUR in the Pentagon) or his new career as a fiction writer are more fruitful, important, or have more affect on people.

I'd be interested for other editors besides myself and BCV to weigh in with whether an encyclopedia should have an outdated photograph instead of one of a citizen who continues to thrive in new career directions. What would YOU want if you were William Cohen? Having heard from his wife Janet Langhart, I know the answer. And if I was William Cohen, like him, I would not want an outdated photograph. --DavidShankBone 15:29, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

I support the more recent photo. I think it looks better. crz crztalk 22:32, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
I support the flag-less photo (more recent I assume). I think a photo with the flags behind it immediately creates the impression that he is still a part of the government. Photos of that sort are pretty standard for folks with jobs like his, but they don't necessarily represent the person -- they are so staid, and official. If he's now pursuing a different career, I think using that photo is probably about as fair as using my "goth chick" high school photo to represent me now (!!!!) My 2 cents. Dina 22:39, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
The composition on the new photo is good considering the setting. It's under a free license, too. Sure, use it. · j e r s y k o talk · 22:56, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Coming late to the argument, but the newer photograph is clearly better for our purposes. It's fine to have outdated photos connected to the article, either in a gallery or via a link to Commons, but the primary one we use to illustrate the subject should only be an outdated one if there is no better or at least equal alternative. (As an example of a less-desirable alternative, we might have a group photo or one with just his wife or a poorly-profiled one or a pratfall and so forth. But this portrait falls under none of those.) --Dhartung | Talk 16:48, 11 April 2007 (UTC)


  • Re: He was "assistant editor-in-chief of the American Trial Lawyers Association". Perhaps this statement should read "assistant editor-in-chief of the American Trial Lawyers Association's weekly journal, TRIAL Magazine". (See the 'publications' section at [3].) One can be editor of a publication, not an organization. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by DCico (talkcontribs) 19:54, 15 March 2007 (UTC).

Museum shooting[edit]

It might be noted that Cohen was inside the U.S. Holocaust museum within earshot of the 2009 U.S. Holocaust Museum shooting. I don't have a citation for it, but he's giving an interview on CNN. RandomCritic (talk) 20:40, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

Blue-eyed Jewish person?[edit]

How come? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:22, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

non jewish mom — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:49, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

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