The magic of Herman Cain


Cain 2012 LogoTo what degree is the maxim true, that there is no such thing as bad press? Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain may well be putting it to the test.

Recent days have witnessed what might be the official beginning of the public discourse debate about Herman Cain’s outlook on Islam and Muslims. The Hermanator has already challenged conventional wisdom by arguing that because of his race—i.e., black—we should vote for him because he takes the race card off the table against Obama. And then he went on to prove his point by arguing that President Obama is not a strong black man. When pressed, he acknowledged that he felt President Obama is not really a black man.

So there are plenty who have been watching with interest as Cain has repeatedly challenged conventional wisdom in terms of religious identity politics. Perhaps it comes down to the notion that Herman Cain is simply not going to win the GOP nomination, and it really does seem a safe bet.

Cynthia TuckerStill, though, Cynthia Tucker spared him none in her scorching appraisal:

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.

The New York Times was no kinder:

Among a dreary Republican field, Herman Cain stands out for using religious bigotry to gain political traction for his presidential ambitions.

Mr. Cain, a former pizza executive, started a few months ago by telling a reporter that he would not be comfortable with a Muslim in his cabinet. During a televised debate last month, he said his discomfort was due to the intention of some Muslims “to kill us.”

He quickly moved from that offensive and absurd generalization to advocating an overt violation of the Constitution. He traveled to Murfreesboro, Tenn., this month to make common cause with residents who are protesting the construction of an Islamic center there. The center, he said, is not “an innocent mosque,” because, he claimed, its supporters are trying to sneak Shariah law into American law.

He told Fox News that any community has the right to ban a mosque, because “Islam is both a religion and a set of laws, Shariah law,” he said. “That’s the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes.”

Of course, Catholicism, Judaism, and many other faiths are structured around religious laws. Shariah law, like those laws, pose no danger to the American legal system.

It’s worth noting that both articles share the same title: “Herman Cain’s Bigotry”.

In his defense, however, a gentleman from California offered his opinion to the editors of the Washington Times:

Washington Times letter headlineMr. Cain’s comments earlier this week supported the residents of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who oppose the construction of a massive Islamic center in the town. Mr. Cain understands the center is not designed for the few residents who practice Islam, but rather to bring in masses requiring indoctrination in Islam’s Shariah law.

His comments are instructive: “Let’s go back to the fundamental issue that the people are basically saying that they are objecting to. They are objecting to the fact that Islam is both religion and [a] set of laws, Shariah law.

“That’s the difference between any one of our other traditional religions, where it’s just about religious purposes. The people in the community know best. And I happen to side with the people in the community.”

The larger issue raised by Mr. Cain is who determines what constitutes a religion. Clearly, radical Islam differs from what Americans hold as religion due to its intolerance toward other faiths and its repeated exhortations to persecute those who eschew it.

Obviously, we know why Mr. Cain says these things. He sees a market demand for it.

This seems to qualify him as a specific issue candidate. He is going to carry the banner for a cause and see just how far it gets him. The Hermanator is hoping to have a seat at some table in the future, representing an issue in such a demanding, controversial manner. He cannot honestly believe that he can rally sufficient support willing to be identified with such a delicate political framework.

Or is he just—you know—crazy?

No, really, I mean, you can’t win with that approach. All you can do is make a hell of a lot of noise doing it if you’re successful. What is the return? A book tour, and then the lecture circuit? A couple of seasons on FOX News before the liberal media conspiracy laughs so loud he’s embarrassed off the air? I don’t see how this works.

Maybe I’m the one who’s crazy.

Maybe I just don’t get it.

Maybe I simply cannot figure the logic of why I should be so afraid of anyone. You know, if somebody wants to kill me, they’re going to try to kill me. I’m probably not going to be expecting it. In some way, I will be surprised. Who am I supposed to be afraid of this year? Blacks? Mexicans? Communists? Oh, Muslims.

Really?

I call it raising our own demons.

It only makes things worse.

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