Herman Cain and the Left’s Fixation with Race

Lawrence O'Donnell lectures Herman Cain about civil rights. (Photo RCP)

The candidacy of Herman Cain is a shock to the progressive system.  In the neat little world that resides in their heads, liberal Democrats envision an alternate reality in which President Obama is a liberal Reagan, the private sector is booming, all international conflicts have been ended with diplomacy, and Herman Cain is secretly a white man in blackface.  Either he’s secretly white, or he hates his own race.

Earlier this month, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, whose show was recently reduced to four days a week because of lousy ratings (even by MSNBC standards), berated Herman Cain over the course of a lengthy interview.  According to Mr. O, Cain is a horrible person for not actively participating in the civil rights movement.

In his just-published autobiography, Cain writes that he and his brother would reluctantly move to the back on the bus when told to do so by the driver, minding their father’s admonition to “stay out of trouble.” Where, O’Donnell sarcastically inquired, would blacks be now if Rosa Parks had followed such advice? When Cain reasonably replied that his father’s advice was not to Rosa Parks but to his high school-age sons, O’Donnell went on to push him on his lack of activism in college.

Appropriately, many liberals were appalled by the treatment Cain received.  Tommy Christopher of Mediaite expressed dismay that “rather than debate Herman Cain on his substantive weaknesses, O’Donnell opted to pull at symbolic threads from Cain’s own personal history.”

But that’s the problem for many liberals.  They just can’t understand Cain’s personal history.  In the progressive sphere of (under the) influence, the only good black man is the one dependent on a government program, and therefore, beholden to the Democrat party. According to the progressive worldview, Herman Cain should be Occupying Wall Street, not a top floor office at a major company.

You see, they just can’t understand how a black man could be successful without government help, thus liberals are resorting to race-baiting.  Yet Republicans are the racists?

Chauncey de Vega, a blogger at OpenSalon.com, calls Cain a “professional racism apologist,” a “race traitor” and a “human parrot” for right-wing white bigots, and even accuses Cain of using his memories of growing up black under Jim Crow to pander to racists. Cain has told the story of how he and his brother once daringly drank from the “whites only” fountain, and then “looked at each other and said, the water tastes the same! What’s the big deal?” Clearly, his point is how absurd racism looks through the innocent eyes of a child. Yet de Vega manages to twist this into a defense of segregation as harmless.

Such bizarre distortions are echoed by leftist posters on other sites. In comments threads, the vileness reigns almost unchecked: Cain has been labeled a “house Negro” (or worse) and a “lawn jockey,” and mocked in blatantly racist terms.

Meanwhile, Slate.com columnist David Weigel asks whether Cain’s rise as a Tea Party favorite refutes charges that the movement is racist, and predictably answers no. For evidence, Weigel turns to Christopher Parker, a University of Washington political scientist and lead author of a 2010 study which concluded that Tea Party “true believers” tended to be more racist than other white Americans. Of course, Parker defines racism broadly enough to include the belief that “Irish, Italians, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up, blacks should do the same without special favors” — a sentiment that Cain both endorses and seems to validate by his own example.

And what a great example he is.  Sadly, the NAACP holds up Mr. Obama as a role model but describes Herman Cain as “an idiot.”  Yeah, the successful businessman is stupid, but that blundering incompetent in the White House is a genius.  I’m not really surprised, and I guess I shouldn’t really care either.  An organization that seeks to advanced “colored people” probably lost relevance around the same time that “colored” was no longer an appropriate racial descriptor.

Back then, Democrats were accused of being racist.  Some of them, like Bill Clinton’s mentor J. William Fulbright and Al Gore Sr., were leading opponents of 1960s civil rights legislation.  Racial politics were horribly divisive back then, but I’ll submit to you that most racist Democrats were only reflecting the views of their ignorant constituents.  Time haven’t changed all that much, have they?

One side of the political spectrum continues to play racial politics.  That would be the left, which has done nothing for black Americans except move Planned Parenthood locations into their neighborhoods.  The Democrats are so bad at politics that they enable the extermination of millions of future supporters!  But hey, that’s what happens when you get in bed with an organization that was founded by a eugenicist.

As Herman Cain continues to campaign for President, expect more liberal shenanigans.  The left’s fixation with race will continue, unabated.


About Josh Kaib

Josh Kaib, a junior at American University, is President of AU College Republicans.
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