Ann Coulter was coming to Herman Cain’s defense against allegations of sexual harassment. The attacks, she said Monday, were fomented by the liberal establishment because they “detest conservative blacks.” The allegations were “vicious, outrageous,” and akin to the charges leveled against Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Okay, all good with that. She’s just defending her guy.
Then came these zingers from her appearance on Fox News with Sean Hannity. “Our blacks are so much better than their blacks” because “you have fought against probably your family, probably your neighbors. . . that’s why we have very impressive blacks.”
Whoa! Lost you there, Ann.
For a moment there, Coulter seemed to be channeling Bull Connor and the good ole boys down South who constantly complained during the Civil Rights movement about northerners stirring up their blacks with their fancy notions of freedom and such.
Her comments also had the ring of post-Apartheid South Africa. On two separate visits a few years apart, I was having amiable conversations with older white women—one on a cross-country train ride, the other in a quaint bookstore in Cape Town—when the conversation inexplicably turned to a discussion about “our blacks.”
The first time in 2001, the lady was lamenting the fact that with all the changes in the country, some of their children were now having to go overseas, to Europe and such, to find work. And while that surely would be problematic to a mother who wanted to keep her brood close, all I could think about were the black mothers whose children had been denied basic human rights and were—at that very moment—being told that their lack of education disqualified them for jobs in their own country.
The second woman in 2004, after realizing that I was American, loosened up and lamented that “our blacks” had changed in the post-Apartheid years. They didn’t listen as much. They were more uppity. I wanted to look around and ask this woman if she could see me. Clearly, she could. But she discerned that I could not possibly consider myself in the same category as the uneducated masses who were now clamoring for better wages and making demands on the white populace.
While the settings may have been different, the paternalism is the same and just as off-putting. Ann, go ahead and defend Mr. Cain if you must. But he’d probably rather you didn’t claim ownership of him.