Herman Cain’s bigotry

WASHINGTON — If we didn’t already know this, here’s what Herman Cain’s regrettable campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has taught us: Black Americans are as capable of ugly and inexplicable prejudices as any other group. Our collective history as victims of ugly and inexplicable prejudices has not made us immune to the virus of bigotry.

So you knew that already? So did I. Still, Cain’s reflexive animosity toward law-abiding Muslim Americans has served as an unnecessary reminder.

In a recent appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Cain told host Chris Wallace that the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to ban any mosque they don’t want built nearby. Having spoken out specifically against a planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Cain seemed oblivious to the fact that the people attempting to build the mosque are also entitled to First Amendment protections.

A retired Georgia businessman turned rightwing talk radio host, Cain had been building to that preposterous and discomfiting moment since he emerged on the campaign trail. In March, while attending a gathering of conservatives in Iowa, a reporter for a progressive blog, ThinkProgress.org, asked him, “Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?” He said flatly, according to ThinkProgress, “No, I will not.”

That revealed not only deep-seated prejudices hardly befitting an American president but also an unsettling ignorance about the U.S. Constitution, which tea party supporters like Cain claim to venerate. There is no religious test for political office in this country. The Founding Fathers were attempting to steer their new republic away from the blood-soaked waters of state-endorsed religions.

While he flirted briefly with sounding more reasonable on the issue of Islamic Americans and their religious freedom, he couldn’t resist, in the end, reverting to nutty notions — common enough among paranoid ultra-conservatives — about Sharia law and an Islamic mandate to convert infidels. All the while, he insists that his bigotry bears no comparison to that he experienced as a boy growing up in the Deep South.

Cain was never going to win the Republican nomination. He’s politically inexperienced, ignorant about major policy issues and hardly highly-regarded among the big-time donors he’d need to fund a serious run. He enjoyed a brief boomlet among the GOP’s tea-party-adoring social conservatives, but he’s been eclipsed by their latest star, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Wisc.) It’s hard to see how Cain is more than an after-thought by the time the GOP primaries start next year.

But his candidacy will prove costly. He will leave the campaign trail having tarnished not only his personal reputation but also having contributed to the GOP’s difficulties with voters who are not white Christians. Ironically, Cain has managed to worsen the problems that the party has reaching outside its homogenous ranks.

Indeed, he perfectly illustrates the GOP’s current moment — an ever-shrinking tent of narrow-minded know-nothings who insist that those who come inside pledge absolute fealty to their most ludicrous pronouncements. As a black man, for example, Cain draws enthusiastic applause from rightwing audiences for his insistence that the tea party movement holds not a shred of racism. Perhaps Cain really believes that, but it sounds like the price of admission.

Moreover, he has enthusiastically castigated President Barack Obama, a tactic unlikely to lure many black voters, who take great pride in the nation’s first black president. Cain has not only cozied up to birthers, but he has also questioned Obama’s manhood, telling The New York Times that the president isn’t “a strong black man.”

Cain should have represented a breakthrough for the Republican Party, which hasn’t had much success luring substantive black men and women to its presidential trials. The GOP’s most memorable black presidential contender has been the clownish Alan Keyes.

As the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Cain has serious business credentials. He should have taken the time to develop a substantive platform so he would have had more to sell than clichés about taxes, disrespect for Obama and Islamophobia.

Instead, he became one more member of the GOP’s lunatic fringe. Oh, well. I guess the fringe needs diversity, too.

462 comments Add your comment

Arnold Butler

July 23rd, 2011
1:53 pm

athensjack

July 23rd, 2011
12:07 pm
Just wait and see how “peaceful” some of those muslims turn out to be. This country will pay the ultimate price for letting them settle in America. It’s just a matter of time.

I guess you would rather round-up all the Muslims and put them in armed camps like the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. Did you ever study history?

"Whitey" for Cain

July 23rd, 2011
1:55 pm

REMEMBER!!! OBOZO is NOT Black… He is 1/2 WHITE and 1/2 BLACK!! He does NOT even look BLACK!! Herman Cain gets my VOTE… He has “tons more experience than OBOZO”!!!

Cracker Barrel

July 23rd, 2011
1:57 pm

Like the other racist white republiscum that come here, I’m a bigoted pig who loves Herman the bigoted pig.

Arnold Butler

July 23rd, 2011
2:22 pm

Larry

July 23rd, 2011
12:36 pm
@ The Truth
What’s wrong with Herman acting/trying to be white ?
Whites have a much lower crime rate,lower rate of out of wedlock birth rates,lower rate of sexually transmitted disease,we are more likely to finish high school,less likely to become a victim of violent crime,more likely to graduate from college,our neighborhoods are safer,we become more involved with our community,we fit into society better because we have more conservatives that act in eveyone’s interest, making our country a better place to live.
There are a lot of good hard working black people out here in Cherokee county that want nothing to do with you liberals in Fulton,Dekalb,counties.They feel safe out here.They don’t want to be stuck shopping at Wayfield Foods or having to pay first for their gas and dry cleaning.
They have told me and our other neighbors personally how you people think.
Your free ride is coming to an end as latinos,whites will eventually take over the city of Atlanta and only the qualified will be left standing.
Herman Cain is a good start,he will get rid of the waste in big government.

Since you listed all the reasons why one would want to be white…I am going to list some reasons why I would not want to be white…you have more white collar/blue collar crimes, rapists, perverts, crocked politicians, divorce, hate crimes, and a very sordid past. No thank you…I’m proud to be a Black American Veteran.

Mike

July 23rd, 2011
2:22 pm

I feel sorry for you and your readers.. Sad sad times

The truth

July 23rd, 2011
2:25 pm

fox news hater
July 23rd, 2011
12:49 pm

your entire post makes so much sense to me..Most whites are not “paid” like the media betrays them to be..Why do WHITE people continue to vote republican, when they don’t make enough money to get the tax breaks?. It makes no sense at all

Doris M

July 23rd, 2011
2:34 pm

Herman Cain was never a serious contender for the Republican nominee for president. He would never,ever win. He simply does not have the requisite experience for dealing with a difficult job as the President of the United States. The sooner he’s gone, the better.

He's Right

July 23rd, 2011
2:38 pm

Cynthia … well written article but I hate to tell you Herman is right on this one. He is rarely right on anything in my opinion and I would never vote for him, but he is right. Building a Mosque is simply a local zoning issue, just like a Dairy Queen, Gas Station or Laundromat. If the vast majority of citizens living in Murfreesboro don’t want that mosque, then they can ensure it does not get zoning permits.

It’s called little “r” Republicanism not to be confused with a Republican.

The truth

July 23rd, 2011
2:46 pm

Larry

July 23rd, 2011
12:36 pm

i am not brainwashed..i know the truth!.Blacks do commit more crimes, but Whites do the worse crimes! they brainwash their own people, only to screw them in the end. they crashed a plane into a building killing thousands of people. Only to use it as an excuse to go fight Iraq and kill thousands of innocent people?.Whites lied to get to Vietnam, they are the only people to drop a nuclear bomb on a country, even though the war had been won..Or how about when whites decided that it was okay to steal an election for Bush so he could continue to screw America up..Whites supported Hitler.They recently even faked bin Ladin’s death, even though everyone knew that he died in 2002, and white people went for it! They knew pearl harbor was going to happen, but they let it occur anyway just so they could try out their little toy! Don’t let me start on the whole treatment of Blacks in America…etc..etc…So yes i am proud to be Black and Cain is a piece of %^&*! But their are some smart Whites and most always seem to be Democrats!

TruthBe

July 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

Cynthia (Soros) Tucker are you calling the kettel black? Cynthia you are one of the most racist people on earth. Be careful of criticizing others of something you live for. Most of the progressive liberals are racist and they hide behind criminal organizations like Acorn, NAACP, SPLC, GLADD, Media Matters, MoveOn.org, and others. The DNC is becoming just as bad as these groups anymore.

TruthBe

July 23rd, 2011
3:16 pm

The (False) Truth, You must be a member of Cynthia’s New Panther Group.

pb

July 23rd, 2011
3:30 pm

He’s right @ 2:38 PM:

No, you and Herman are wrong. It is not a simple zoning issue. If you don’t believe that, see what happens when the Muslims in Mufreesboro go to court about this, and see who wins ultimately. I don’t like Muslim terrorists either and don’t want them here , but t doesn’t mean all Muslims are evil and want to take over the country.