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

Moving target

July 22nd, 2011
11:54 am

Very well said CT. And unlike those who will undoubtedly jump in with the shrill claim that you are “bashing” another GOPer, an honest reading of your piece reveals the lament you obviously feel. Left or right, there is no place in this country for views such as those held by this man.

Craig Spinks

July 22nd, 2011
11:57 am

Bigotry is color-, gender-, race- , ethnicity- , age- , wealth- , fact- and reason-blind. It is antithetical to the classically liberal, individual-focused, political, economic and moral philosophies upon which our nation was established and upon which it thrives.

MoreRightthanLeft

July 22nd, 2011
12:05 pm

Are you kidding me!! i have heard ignorant rants from both sides. Hermain has great character and is business savvy. The gov’t cant be trusted and time after time has not gotten the job done. You know what he meant with his statements..its as much an issue has migraine headaches. Im curious on why you have nothing positive about anyone unless it matches your liberal slant. You who hate Heramin have probably never listened to more than 2 min sound bytes. Idiots!!

Tea Bash

July 22nd, 2011
12:11 pm

The mosques are sprouting like mushrooms all over the heartland, and they are funded by unknown sources. Even a casual glance at the Koran reveals that the sole purpose of a mosque is to spread the socio-political traditions that inflect Sharia Law.

But so what? It’s not like Islam is starting a witch hunt, or passing out smallpox blankets, or worse, trying to reintroduce the missionary position to our love lives, (like a certain religion we all know).

Let people worship as they might. If it’s by religion that we perish then at least that’s better than getting nuked by missiles in Cuba.

What’s on TV?

Zzz

July 22nd, 2011
12:26 pm

Zzz…..Boring !!!

casual observer

July 22nd, 2011
12:27 pm

Now who was responsible for the bombings in Norway today? No way…. really? Shocking that it would be peaceful Muslims. That sort of thing rarely happens..right? I have no idea who Cain is trying to protect the American citizen from. Because we all know most terrorist don’t fit a certain category.

MoreRightthanLeft

July 22nd, 2011
12:32 pm

everytime the repubs get behind a person of “character” , aka “color” for you libs..you gang up and bash them…and then you spout out how unsuccessful Repubs are in reaching to the black community…
I guess the only good blacks are democrats in your world…
Let the campaigns playout..if repubs run on Obama’s record, his first and only record….Dems should be a little scared of losing the chosen one next term..

jconservative

July 22nd, 2011
12:42 pm

I do not hold Cain in very high regard. Not because of his bigotry, if that is the correct word, but because his positions on the Muslim world are laughable.

He strongly supported the US sending troops to Iraq, and getting over 5000 killed, to build a new nation for Muslims. But he wants to deny Muslims the ability to build mosques on their own land with their own money.

He supported spending $1.5 trillion dollars in Iraq & Afghanistan to build new nations for Muslims.
But he wants to deny Muslims the ability to build mosques with their own money.

If Cain lives in terror of Sharia Law, he does not need to be in an office of trust. People who live in terror do not make rational decisions.

moreleftthanright

July 22nd, 2011
12:43 pm

if it comes from the right – it’s wrong

Stonethrower

July 22nd, 2011
12:47 pm

Are Muslims protected by the first amendment?

Pablo

July 22nd, 2011
12:50 pm

Cynthia:

The one thing I agree with you is that Herman Cain will probably not be the presidential candidate from the GOP, but not because of his “bigotry”, but because of his status of outsider. As for his “bigotry”, it seems to me that he is only stating what others are too coward to say out loud. Is what he says wrong? Possibly, but I cannot seem to remember when was the last time a Southern Baptist group emplaced a bomb that killed innocent civilians…

BeeJay

July 22nd, 2011
12:51 pm

So Herman Cain taught us that “Black Americans are as capable of ugly and inexplicable prejudices as any other group”? No, Ms Tucker has taught us that.

Bryan G.

July 22nd, 2011
12:53 pm

I so want to like Herman Cain, but his failure to recognize the 1st amendment with respect to Muslims is alarming.

Arnold Butler

July 22nd, 2011
12:55 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with Cynthia Tucker’s column about Mr. Cain. I have listened to him on the radio and on TV. He sounds ignorant on both mediums. Why give up your integritty for a lost cause? Mr. Cain you have had your 15 minutes of fame—so now SHUT UP! and quit embarassing yourself.

Bryan G.

July 22nd, 2011
12:56 pm

By the way, Michele Bachmann is not from Wisconsin.

casual observer

July 22nd, 2011
1:06 pm

If Herman Cain promised to distribute wealth to the American public (aka : protect social programs) he would be embraced. However, trying to protect the American public he is demonized. Just look at the millions pouring across our borders. Does the American public care? Not nearly as much as they do about government “programs” It’s all about the Hook-up. Give – me – minezz

black 'leadership'

July 22nd, 2011
1:08 pm

Hermn’!! You knowed yu caint be a speak’in out ‘gin yo brutha’s! Wez got’a be stayin’ t’getha!
Yuz black ‘buv all else!
If yu keep on’a duin dat, wez got no choice but ta call uz a rac’st an tho u otta de hood!

Arnold Butler

July 22nd, 2011
1:21 pm

black leadership you did a poor job mocking blacks. Hatred must be your best friend.

Jimmy62

July 22nd, 2011
1:31 pm

The more Cain says, the less I like him.

Then again, are his stances any more or less bigoted than liberals who kill voucher programs so they can trap poor black kids in bad schools, keeping them from chances to get out of inter-generational poverty?

Joe The Plumber Too

July 22nd, 2011
1:32 pm

Very funny CT, but you were wrong from the first paragraph as usual. Herman Cain did not teach us that even blacks can be bigoted, nope that has been there all along. Our comedians have always made fun of “white people” , think Redd Foxx, Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor and I have laughed right along with everyone else but a white man can’t get away with the same jokes about blacks. On a serious note, years before Mr. Cain was a blip on the radar, one worthless excuse of a human being named al sharpton was slamming Jews in New York, talk about a bigot. Of course, you don’t address that because there is no R beside his name. Everybody has a little bigot in them, those who claim they don’t are not only bigots but liars also.

kayaker 71

July 22nd, 2011
1:41 pm

CT,

What an idiotic column. Those “peace loving Muslims” with their plans for all who are not Muslim are the most dangerous enemy we face in this country and world wide. Read the Koran lately? This is not a religion. It is a militant group of people intent on domination of all those who oppose them masking as a religion, worshiping a seventh century profit who thinks, along with them, that he is a cut above the average human being. I learned all I need to know about Islam on Sept 11, 2001. So did Herman Cain.

Stonethrower

July 22nd, 2011
1:48 pm

“Gays want our men and are going to destroy the institution of marriage”! “They want to take away our guns”! We have to have something to fear so we’ll walk lock step with what ever politicians are peddling. The code word now is Sharia Law! Never mind that in the majority of pure communities you couldn’t elect a Muslim or anyone who slightly resembles a Muslim to be dog catcher.

Muslims make up less than 1% of those practicing religion in the US so tell me again why I’m supposed to fear Sharia Law?

cajun cloyd

July 22nd, 2011
1:50 pm

Amen, sister! Cain ain’t able.

Gordon

July 22nd, 2011
1:51 pm

Good grief, Cynthia, this was days ago. Try to keep up. Can’t wait to read your opinion on the Gang of Six proposal in a couple of weeks.

nancy

July 22nd, 2011
1:52 pm

Herman Cain 2012 !!!!!!!!!!
Vote Smart Vote for Cain
Cain is the change we need to fix the last 4 years.

RGB

July 22nd, 2011
1:53 pm

“Black Americans are as capable of ugly and inexplicable prejudices as any other group.”

Now Cynthia, we both know this is only possible when the Black American is conservative–or maybe a black columnist.

casual observer

July 22nd, 2011
1:53 pm

tell me again why I’m supposed to fear Sharia Law?

Here’s another check. You got nothing to fear. We’ll take care of you. Never mind all the bombings and killings (see Oslo today) We’ll take those mean rich peoples money and give it to you. Don’t worry.

rightwingextreme

July 22nd, 2011
1:54 pm

If a community can ban a Walmart, it can ban a mosque.

GeoffDawg

July 22nd, 2011
1:57 pm

Yep, he’s bigoted against lazy thinking idiots. Don’t take it personally Cynthia.

Class A

July 22nd, 2011
1:58 pm

I thought for a moment that Cynthia was writing about her own bigotry

RGB

July 22nd, 2011
1:58 pm

“If a community can ban a Walmart, it can ban a mosque.”

Love that!

On another note, just this week two Black Americans have killed or seriously injured two area police officers.

Are these hate crimes?

Jeff

July 22nd, 2011
1:59 pm

Cynthia,
All you have to do is read your blog and to realize that Black Americans are not immune to the virus of bigotry.

Bobby

July 22nd, 2011
2:00 pm

I don’t know Cyntia. There was a bombing and shooting in Norway by Muslims. I don’t see you condeming their actions against other innocent victims. But then again, you don’t consider yourself Muslims or yourself as bigots, do you?

Amen

July 22nd, 2011
2:00 pm

“If a community can ban a Walmart, it can ban a mosque.”

Probably the best comment of the day….

who cares

July 22nd, 2011
2:03 pm

Shut up Tucker! Herman Cain has the right to speak about muslims just as YOUR leaders, that’s right YOUR LEADERS, jesse jackson and al sharpton and rev Wright had the right to talk about white people. so stop being a hater towards “THE BROTHER” and open your obama-phant ears and listen to the sense he is talking. We heard Obama and bought into the Kool Aid and see what that got us? These muslims are trouble and that is why they need a dictator. These people are Crazy!

schrutebeets

July 22nd, 2011
2:05 pm

Those like you who observe and assess the world through a straw aren’t expected to get Cain.
How could you?
Cain espouses genuine Christianity. You espouse progressive Christianity, which isn’t really Christianity at all.
Cain has a “nation’s best interest” mindset. You have a “world’s best interest” mindset that prevents you from acting and speaking in the nation’s best interest.
Scriptural and American principles and conictions comprise the core of Cain’s views. Reckless indulgence is the core of yours. The only lines you draw are the situational ethics-compelled ones that flow from your own head.
How obtuse must you be to dismiss, as “nutty notions,” Cain’s wholly valid points about the islamic faith vis-a-vis the Constitution’s prohibition against free exercise of religion.
For the majority of its practitioners, islam is an indistinguishable personal faith and system of governance (i.e., sharia law) that is irreconcilable with American jurisprudence.
Note the Middle East nations that are governed by sharia law. Note the already many instances in which American judges have been convinced or coerced to consider and even incorporate sharia law components in their rulings. Note islamic leaders’ clearly stated mission to establish sharia law in America.
Do you really believe that the First Amendment authors’ intent was to provide exercise protections for a religion that fosters treason?
You probably won’t understand this but, for many Christians, designations such as democrat, republican, white and black are all secondary to their Christianity.
And they speak accordingly…even if it means offending the current president…even if it means ultimately losing in their own bid for the presidency…and, certainly, even if it means failing to live up to your “nutty notions” of how a black republican presidential candidate should comport himself.

Joe The Plumber Too

July 22nd, 2011
2:05 pm

Now if we could just ban barry the boy blunders teleprompter. The umms, aahs and grunts that would spew from barry’s mouth would be must see TV.

Contractor

July 22nd, 2011
2:06 pm

I just want everyone to know that Cynthia Tucker is perfect, and a model American. Nothing she does in life is wrong, always right. I wish the government could clone a billion of her and replace every single one of us. She always writes these stories, but never considers herself in that realm, because she is always right and perfect. She has never ever demeaned a race, person, or American law in her entire life. Teach me Tucker, Teach me!!!.

Wreck

July 22nd, 2011
2:08 pm

Yep, Alan Keyes and Herman Cain are clownish and make the GOP look bad. Because Jesse and Al and the democratic congressional black caucus are such serious, intellectual, somber thinkers. LOL!

Say it aint so.

July 22nd, 2011
2:15 pm

CT, Can Always count on her to play the race card.

Rascal

July 22nd, 2011
2:15 pm

Shelia Jackon Lee peddles her brand of hate hatred and race baiting but Tucker is silent. She never sees the rank bigotry of the left. I wonder why she is so blind?

maxxabby@gmail.com

July 22nd, 2011
2:19 pm

The sub-title of this article should be: “Cynthia Tuckers’ Idiocy Knows no Bounds”

Moving target

July 22nd, 2011
2:20 pm

Congratulations, CT (or should I offer my sympathies?). Your column attracts the most angry, hate filled, IGNORANT bunch of posters I have seen on any AJC blog. And as you know, that is truly saying something. I’m sure you have other reasons for not posting as much as you have in the past, however I wouldn’t blsme you if the tripe above is one of the reasons why. Your talents are truly wasted on this bunch.

Goldie

July 22nd, 2011
2:21 pm

Today’s GOP is in a real bad funk — even Reagan (their God) would be ashamed of their Party today!

ed schultz

July 22nd, 2011
2:22 pm

cain is boortz butt buddy…

TB

July 22nd, 2011
2:22 pm

CT you are a moron!

alan

July 22nd, 2011
2:24 pm

Its called zoning laws!!!

joe

July 22nd, 2011
2:26 pm

Just look what is happening in Oslo Norway today…this could soon be the case here if we don’t investigate where the funding of these mosques are coming from. It is possible they are being funded by extremists dead set on killing as many Americans as possible. As Barney Fife said, time to nip it in the bud…

Rickster

July 22nd, 2011
2:26 pm

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.

Substitute “Cynthia Tucker’s column” for “Herman Cain’s regrettable campaign for the Republican presidential nomination” and the sentence makes just as much – if not more – sense than the one CT wrote.

Cynthia calling Herman Cain prejudiced is a case of the pot calling the kettle…. naw… too easy.

Jim

July 22nd, 2011
2:27 pm

Cain’s revolutionary ideas such as job creation should occur in the private sector with minimal government interference and people should get off the public dole and there is no such thing as entitlements have no place in today’s government. Obama gonna pay my car off! Obama gonna make sure I don’t have to pay my mortgage! Cynthia Tucker, you need to go ahead and abandon the laughable facade of unbias reporting and join Cynthia McKinney’s campaign as a publicist. Or just do everybody a favor and quit writing altogether.