Monday, October 24, 2011

The Phony Post-Racist America of Herman Cain

There is something about the sight of a black man talking like a white Southerner from the 1950s.  Yes, that sounds like a harsh assessment of Herman Cain, but there is no other way of judging a person who says the things Herman Cain says.  You know something is wrong when an African American who lived through the civil rights movement, while freely admitting he never took part in it, spends his time talking about states' rights, the very concept used by the Dixiecrats of his era and state to rationalize opposition to the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act.  

If Herman Cain's worldview had won out in the 1950s and '60s, he would not be voting or running for higher office.  Whether he likes to admit it or not, he is a free rider and beneficiary of a social and political movement supported by the very forces he claims have "brainwashed" his own community.

This is not to say that one must be a liberal or leftist in all cases without being something like a 'traitor' (fill in community appropriate treasonous name).  Actually, I have worked with African American academics in the past who were fairly conservative, a more prevalent phenomenon than people realize.  It should be no more notable than being a white leftist (as I am), in a country filled with white people, especially white men, who are predominantly right-wing in their political orientation.

What I do not find acceptable is the notion that anyone joking with a white supremacist like Neal Boortz (a man who started his political career as a speech writer for Lester Maddox [the last open racial segregationist governor in the U.S.]) about having possibly been owned by Mr. Boortz's ancestors, as though there should be nothing funnier than the notion of a black person being owned by a white supremacist's family 150 years ago. 

What I do not understand is how anyone, black or white, can call himself a believer in a religion whose founder told us to love everyone, including our enemies, can publicly declare that under no circumstances would he ever employ a Muslim (imagine, Herman, if the boards of exec two decades ago at Godfather's Pizza had the same attitude about employing black people?). Again, I will let Mr. Cain speak for himself.

What I will never understand is how anyone, regardless of your race, can say that racism is not a factor in economic inequality in American life.  I write this as a white man (transplant) living in the South, it is noticeable down here as much as anyplace in the U.S.--something Herman Cain should know as a lifelong Southerner.  So, am I to believe the fact that black unemployment is twice as high as white unemployment, all of this is based solely on the inability of black people to find a job?  Until the 1960s most African Americans in the South were not even allowed to vote and were systematically cut out of housing and jobs by discrimination.  The residue of that still persists in this country today in our inner cities and rural areas, and even our suburbs.  Tell me, dear white readers, when was the last time you were pulled over for "fitting the description" of a crime suspect?  When was the last time one of our so-called brethren of a lighter hue experienced the opportunity to have 41 bullets unloaded into us for reaching for our wallet or just shot in the back, execution style, while being restrained (without cause)?  When was the last time you ever saw a white presidential candidate have his citizenship challenged (note, John McCain was born outside of the U.S.)?

Herman Cain knows all of this, or at least he should, since he is on the side of the people who claim that Barack Obama is a Muslim socialist/terrorist sympathizer from Kenya.

And for those who say I am being overly critical, I challenge you to ask Mr. Cain his view on the Confederacy and the Confederate battle flag, or about the efficacy of joking with the speechwriter for Lester Maddox about being owned by his ancestors, etc.  Cain knows good and well the Confederate battle flag was put on the Georgia state flag back in 1956 as a protest against the civil rights movement and the Brown v. Board of Education decision (a decision that, like the civil rights laws of the '60s, Cain was a beneficiary of).  You will probably not see Herman Cain talking about that issue anytime soon, unless compelled by reporters, because he is campaigning for the votes of people who support the Confederacy and Confederate battle flag, and who 50 years ago thought Mr. Cain should not be allowed to legally vote or sit next to them on a bus.  Doubt me?  Go to rural Georgia (Cain's home state), say Watkinsville, and ask a native 70 year old white man there his view of Atlanta or Detroit, and then listen to the response (which you already know will be coming).  Those are Herman Cain's voters.  

Is it any wonder he thinks black people are 'brainwashed'?  Long before Mr. Cain and his friends thought universal healthcare was a Communist plot, they thought something else was proof of America's leftist conspiracy against freedom and democracy.  Yes, civil rights.

And that is why in Herman Cain's world, a white Republican who goes hunting at a place with 'n*gg*rhead' inscribed on a rock, and calls him brother onstage at a debate is not racist, but a liberal comedian who makes fun of his campaign is.  And that is why Herman Cain is on the wrong side of history now, as his supporters (i.e., the opponents of the "negro Soviet republic" they deemed the civil rights movement to embody) were five decades before.

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