You don’t think four separate women accusers are credible? You don’t think his amateurish handling of the sexual harassment and assault claims is troubling? You’re not bothered by his near total lack of knowledge of foreign policy? Well, what about bigotry?. I’m talking about just plain old, irrational condemnation of a group of people based on stereotypes and/or ignorance. Well, that’s Herman Cain for you. Politico recounts:
In an interview with GQ, Herman Cain goes back to an early theme of his campaign: suggesting American Muslims pose a creeping threat to society. From the transcript:
Devin Gordon: Do you think that there is a greater tendency among the Muslim faith for that kind of extremism?
Herman Cain: That would be a judgment call that I’m probably not qualified to make, because I can’t speak on behalf of the entire Muslim community. I have talked with Muslims that are peaceful Muslims. And I have had one very well known Muslim voice say to me directly that a majority of Muslims share the extremist views.
Devin Gordon: Do you think he’s right?
Herman Cain: Yes, because that’s his community. That’s his community. I can’t tell you his name, but he is a very prominent voice in the Muslim community, and he said that.
Notice the slimy way in which he attributes the sentiment to some unknown leader. (Cain’s advisors are always unknown, and I am beginning to see why they wouldn’t want to be associated with him.) And if he doubts the slur, why is he repeating it? Well, this isn’t the first time that Cain came out with blatant bigotry. As Politico reminds us,“Cain’s views on Islam were an early stumbling block for his campaign. After rising in the polls following the first debate in May, Cain lost ground when he said he wouldn’t want to appoint Muslims to his Cabinet, and then tried to explain away the comment by saying he meant he wouldn’t appoint jihadists.” And he also wanted them to take a special loyalty oath.
I’ve been very unforgiving when it comes to birtherism, because it plays to the worst sentiments in a fraction of the electorate and is a grave distraction from the essential issues we should be discussing. But Cain’s reflexive anti-Muslim bigotry makes birtherism seem like a Socratic discussion on the nature of truth. Cain is running for president, and would if elected (now exceptionally improbable), be the president of all Americans, responsible for assuring the equal protections of the law. There simply isn’t any place for slandering an entire religious group in public life, let alone from the mouth of a presidential aspirant.
Moreover, Cain does immense damage to those focused on a narrow, discrete problem: The radicalization of some Muslims in the United States. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has enough problems beating down the allegations of discrimination and trying to conduct a thoughtful inquiry into how we can intercede in the process of radicalization. King and others trying to cultivate useful strategies against jihadist elements are undermined — and will inevitably be lumped in — with Cain’s know-nothing attacks on all Muslim Americans.
Shame on Mr. Cain. And shame on those who should know better and continue to defend him.