Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Hypocrisy of Herman Cain

Illustration by Mark Olmsted
Friends, whom I like and respect, recently discussed whether or not Herman Cain could be said to be evil. It is a term which I'm generally reluctant to use as it tends to distract from dealing with the real issues in the beliefs and policies of the individual or group. I think that it allows us to distance ourselves from the entity that we have identified as evil and actually absolve ourselves from responsibility for confronting that entity. Who wants to tangle with the devil? 
However after much thought, I think that evil is the most accurate term to describe GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. He's also a lying, shameless hypocrite. 

Cain is older than I am and he grew up in the Jim Crow south.  Born in 1945 in Tennessee, his family moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he grew up. I don't have to question whether or not Cain's life was impacted by segregation and racism. His mother worked as a cleaning woman, and his dad held three jobs as a barber, janitor, and a chauffeur at the same time in order to make ends meet. Cain grew up poor and black in the deep south; he couldn't avoid experiencing racism.

Atlanta's Antioch Baptist Church North, of which Cain is a member, is a liberal black church with a congregation of 14,000 and an annual operating budget of more than $5 million. Antioch is known for hosting a "who's who" of civil rights activists as guest speakers. (The CNN Belief Blog, Eric Marrapodi & John Blake, The Liberal Church of Herman Cain, 10/18/11.) A recent article in the CNN Belief Blog includes interviews with some members and former members of the church who know Cain. It seems that many do not agree with his politics and avoid conflict by not discussing their differences. (Id.)

I don't buy for a moment that Cain really believes that the GOP has the best interests of low income people on their radar, and he fully knows that a disproportionate number of poor people are African-American and Hispanic.

Rev. Frederick Robinson, former associate pastor at Antioch Church, and a friend of Cain, is quoted as stating, “He knows there’s racism in the tea party, but he’ll never say that because they are his supporters. That bothers a lot of people, but he plays to that base not because he’s a sellout but because he’s a politician.” (The CNN Belief Blog.)

I say it's because he is a sellout, a hypocrite, and evil. Cain knows firsthand what racial apartheid means and yet he offers electric fences with sufficient voltage to kill those attempting to cross the border as a solution to unwanted immigration. He then tries to dismiss it as a joke. Let's suppose that Rick Perry made a joke about lynching black folks, anyone laughing yet?

A lot of Cain's popularity comes from his skin color. There is nothing that annoys some white people more than having attention called to any racist behavior exhibited by any white person. The immediate response is typically, "I'm not a racist." Witness the response to thoughtful analyses by writers, white and black, about the role race plays in the level of vitriol directed at Obama since his first day in office. Many appear incapable of hearing the messages, which generally are not accusing whites of intentional racism but are instead questioning perceptions and expectations that may be grounded in harmful racial stereotypes.

Cain is a black man who says what Tea Party types want to hear. He blames poverty on the laziness of those who are poor. He proclaims that Obama is a socialist out to destroy the country. He advocates killing illegal immigrants rather than letting them cross our borders. He thinks that all social welfare programs just make people lazy and greedy and would eliminate them under his watch. What's not to love if you're a Tea Partier?

Magically, whites who are uncomfortable with any discussion of race and who consciously or subconsciously promote racist attitudes can say with proud defiance, "I am not a racist, after all I support Herman Cain."

Prostituting the heritage of black people's oppression in this country for his political gain is shameful and yes, that makes Cain evil and dangerous. His repeated affirmations that issues of race are figments of the imagination of people of color undermine the progress that has been made in honestly and openly addressing the legacy of racism in this country. He insults the memory of all those who fought and died in the struggle to defeat Jim Crow and promote equality. His head should be bowed in shame over his minstrel show act performed for the gleeful Tea Party crowds that hang on his every word. 

Why label Herman Cain as evil? Because he is indifferent to the needs of others, indifferent to the suffering endured by those who came before him and fought for the liberties that allow him to run for office. He takes no responsibility for his words, using them to further incite those who oppose the very concept of social justice. In the words of Elie Wiesel, "Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil." It is indifference, the refusal to act to prevent injustice, that provides evil with the fertilizer that it needs to grow.


Shaw Kenawe said...

I'm appalled at Herman Cain's candidacy because he seems more interested in promoting Herman Cain and his books and brand than in solving America's problems.

I'm appalled at Herman Cain's candidacy because he jokes about deadly serious issues--immigration, foreign policy [Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan stan]. Just imagine if Mr. Obama had said that in a debate!--he proposed a joke of a tax plan, dismissed by everyone who knows anything about economics and taxes.

And finally I'm appalled at Herman Cain's candidacy because he, of all people! brought Mr. Obama's race into the discussion when Mr. Cain proclaimed that he was a real Black American, unlike Mr. Obama.

Seriously. The man is unfit to hold office. He should stick with giving motivational talks about pizzas and soft drinks.

Sybil said...

Oh Sheria, How sad I am when I read that such people are standing for your Presidancy. In my ignorance I never ever thought I would be reading such quotes as he has been making.
I pray with every fibre of my being that surely the majority of right minded Americans will see through him long before the elections...
Love Sybil xx

Beth said...

I find it very disturbing that there is a large contingent that thinks he's just a fine fellow and perfectly capable of running the country. I think even I know more about foreign policy than he does.

I think his bubble will burst, though. You can bet I'll be doing my best to get people to understand why he shouldn't get anywhere near the White House.

Did you happen to see what Al Sharpton said about him on The Daily Show? "I wouldn't vote for Cain if he were running against a white man." This was in response to all the idiots who said that blacks only voted for Obama because he is black.

totsymae said...

When I read this and reflect on the last debate, I want to believe that Herman Cain can't be serious. That he is just out to make a name for himself. That he's an agitator trying to split the vote even if he is a staunch Republican. I recently had a conversation and noted his anger, ultimately saying words akin to yours. That he is dangerous. I have even wanted to persuade myself into thinking he was simply passionate in his patriotism but that is also untrue. Herman Cain resonates with someone who is angry for being born black. For the struggle of his parents and what he ultimately overcame; yet, angry that other blacks have not been as successful and exhibits it in ways that will cut them off for not having met his standard of success. He is all too eager to lynch those who are struggling, which makes him more than dangerous, actually.

Leslie Parsley said...

Re the electric fence: " Let's suppose that Rick Perry made a joke about lynching black folks . . ."

Exactly. I really can't add to what you and everyone else has said. He is all that you describe. A hideous individual - totally evil.

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

OK. Yet again, you have grabbed me by my lapels and said: "Look!"

I saw Cain as a sideshow, but would have never applied the word 'evil' to him. However, given the ramifications of his actions, providing political cover for the racism of others, I get your point.

At this point, I'm just letting them have as much rope as they ask for during the primaries. Call me a fool for assuming that the majority of voters will see through the result.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

There is no way this will last...

Mark said...

This is an interesting question. When does extraordinary self-centeredness become evil? I think the concept is too weighted for Herman Cain, it implies a self-awareness of which he is not capable.
Herman Cain signed onto the notion years and years ago that he was a superior individual and he was going to prove it. He's an out-of-control ego who swallows all the libertarian, tea-party crap because it validates this notion that he is one of the chosen few whose success society must recognize as a function of its purpose to acknowledge and reward "excellence." It comes from a deep insecurity that he is, after all, mediocre. The capitalist lottery plucks some of the these C-students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds for wealth to "prove" that the system is not stacked against the great majority. Lord, I was in prison with scads of black men with twice his IQ and work ethic.
Herman Cain is the worst kind of collaborator, the court jester to a rightwing PLEASED TO DEATH that they can tell a pollster they have nothing against black people, they just can't find any who "think right."
It's quite true, if l878 Herman Cain had campaigned for a return to slavery, he would have cornered the southern white vote, for sure!
Herman Cain, like Clarence Thomas and Michael Steele, suffer from ideological Stockholm Syndrome. I don't know if it's evil, but it's certainly pathetic.