Herman Cain, the former chairman of Godfather’s Pizza who wants to be the Republican nominee for president, recently said he would not be comfortable appointing a Muslim to his cabinet. An absurd assertion that he was challenged on at the New Hampshire debate last night. But Cain doubled down on his senseless stance with a discordant response that revealed a massive blind spot.
WMUR-TV political reporter Josh McElveen asked Cain, “Are American-Muslims as a group less committed to the Constitution than, say, Christian or Jews?” Read Cain’s response for yourself.
First, the statement was would I be comfortable with a Muslim in my administration, not that I wouldn't appoint one. That's the exact transcript. And I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims, those that are trying to kill us. And so, when I said I wouldn't be comfortable, I was thinking about the ones that are trying to kill us, number one.
And I’m not comfortable hearing an African American holding forth on the good and bad of another race or ethnicity. Imagine what we’d be talking about today if “Muslim” were replaced with “black” in Cain’s response. All hell would have broken loose and rightly so. There are people who think there are good blacks and bad blacks. And there are certainly more than a few folks who firmly believe there are blacks — militant or otherwise — “that are trying to kill us.” Or rob us. Or cheat us. Or generally make life unpleasant for us.
I lost count long ago of the number of times I was told during grade school and middle school (in the 1970s, I’m not as young as I look, folks) that I was “one of the good ones” by white friends who were thought they were paying me a compliment. I can only imagine what Muslim Americans think and how they feel hearing someone who aspires to represent all of the people of the United States disparage them with barely an uproar afterward.