Does Herman Cain give the Tea Party a racial pass?

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In an op-ed entitled “Hey, liberals, the race card has expired,” Herman Cain wrote about his disgust with the perception that his popularity within the Tea Party was rooted in him helping dispel accusations of racism leveled at the political group. Cain criticized two reporters for the audacity of asking a legitimate question. After professing his love of small government, free markets, personal responsibility, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution, Cain wrote, “Could the people who are part of this massive citizens’ movement be looking past the color of my skin?”

Perhaps, but isn’t it a bit transparent that his newfound popularity just happens to coincide with the temporary Republican presidential nominee frontrunner offering some of the stupidest assessments of race in recent memory — much to the delight of a faction long accused of harboring prejudices?

theGrio: Cain, Romney tied in poll among Va Republicans

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Despite long noted disproportions in income, wealth, education, incarceration rates, health care coverage, and employment, Herman Cain told CNN’s Candy Crowley, “I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way.” He also says he believes many blacks have a level playing field.

As for those who remain economically disadvantaged, Cain said, “They weren’t held back because of racism. People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.”

Two days prior to that interview, Cain reportedly drew the biggest applause of the night at the Value Voters Summit for saying he is not angry for the way America has treated black people. He sure is angry at blacks, though, bashing us for allowing Democrats to “brainwash” the race into overwhelmingly voting Democratic. In his eyes it’s more so our own fault for lack of Republican outreach.

Cornel West: ‘Cain needs to get off the symbolic crackpipe’

All of this comes at a time when blatant racism is being leveled against the first black president of the United States. The most recent example of this was Hank Williams Jr. rehashing a popular idea among Tea Party failed history buffs: That President Obama is a lot like Adolf Hitler.

While doing damage control after the NFL gave his Monday Night Football theme a cowboy boot to the butt, Williams made sure to tell a FOX News host that he liked Herman Cain because he was “the one that makes the most sense.”
I wonder what part about Cain makes the most sense to him. Is it how he dismisses his lack of foreign policy knowledge by obnoxiously saying he doesn’t know who the president of “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” is?

Maybe it’s Cain’s pledge to make his foreign policy philosophy “an extension of the Reagan philosophy,” which apparently means to “stop giving money to our enemies.” Even though that’s exactly what President Reagan did throughout his time in office.

To be fair, being an unabashed dimwit who wears his lack of knowledge like a badge of honor has proven itself to be a great way to earn popularity within the GOP and Tea Party. However, that isn’t the root of Cain’s appeal with the Hank Williams Jr.’s of America. Herman Cain offers a black face to mainly white-held beliefs about the state of race in this country. That’s why Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan fancy Cain when convenient and why the rest of us wonder if he’s Aaron McGruder’s imagination come to life.

These days, blacks are increasingly asked to “prove” racism. Cain is lending credence to that call thanks to his numerous assertions that most people are “over” racism.

Likewise, he absolves conservative whites of any guilt about their bigotry — especially when he backpedals on warranted criticism of overt forms of racism. That’s not surprising considering during the Civil Rights Movement he admitted “we decided to avoid trouble by moving to the back of the bus when the driver told us to.”

Cain wants to avoid trouble with whites. I want him to shut the hell up with his denigrations of black people and enabling select whites to continue on with their denial about the state of race in America.

Yesterday, my southern self tweeted: “Herman Cain is an embarrassment to self-respecting country black men everywhere.” I was wrong: He’s pathetic to anyone paying attention. Tea partiers excluded.

Fortunately, Cain’s surge in popularity will eventually wane, and thus, so will his platform. Trouble is, there’s reason to worry that he’s now popular enough to become the GOP nominee’s racial attack dog in the general election. Just incase, who’s got a muzzle to spare?