GOP presidential frontrunner Herman Cain has had a rough couple of weeks. Several women have come forth accusing Cain of sexual harassment. Now, Cain may or may not be guilty of the charges that are leveled against him. It is not my intention here to defend him. In fact, I am not now nor have I ever been a Herman Cain supporter. However, as a conservative, I am disposed to be skeptical of most things in life. And there are few things as deserving of skeptical treatment as the phenomenon that has engulfed Cain since he has become a presidential frontrunner.
This is the first reason for why I am disinclined to extend Cain’s accusers a sympathetic hearing: it is only now, once his party’s presidential nomination is within his reach, that they have come forward.
Second, not only have these women waited until Cain became a frontrunner before they decided to disclose these revelations, they waited well over a decade to do so!
Third, the publicity-hungry, Democratic-friendly Gloria Allred is representing at least one of Cain’s accusers. This fact alone suggests that the Cain “scandal” is politically motivated. When, however, it is taken in conjunction with the foregoing considerations, it all but compels this conclusion.
There is another reason, though, to account for my suspicions that, whatever may or may not have happened in Cain’s past, this episode is largely a plot hatched by his political opponents.
To put it bluntly, Cain is black and, thus far, his accusers are white.
Beyond this, some of them—including and especially Sharon Bialik, the woman who is the first to put a face to the sexual harassment charges—are white women with blonde hair.
Now, the base of the Republican Party remains predominantly white. From the leftist’s perspective, white Republicans are even more preoccupied with “racist” delusions than are whites generally. This explains, according to the leftist, why white Republicans love Herman Cain: he is a black man “who knows his place.”
This, at any rate, is what MSNBC analyst Karen Finney said during an exchange on Martin Bashir’s television show. “One of the things about Herman Cain is, I think that he makes that white Republican base of the party feel okay, feel like they are not racist because they can like this guy.” Finney continued to say that she believes that Cain has given the Republican Party base “a free pass” because they view him as “a black man who knows his place.”
Janeane Garofalo, on more than one occasion, has attempted to reinforce this notion of an incorrigibly “racist” Republican Party and its relationship to Cain. While speaking with Keith Olbermann, she asserted: “Herman Cain is probably well liked by some of the Republicans because” such support on their part “hides the racist elements of the Republican Party.” So that no one would miss her point, Garofalo was blunt: “[The] Conservative movement and tea party movement [are] one and the same.” That is, they are “racist” against blacks.
From the perspective of the leftist, then, Republicans, conservatives, and Tea Partiers generally dislike blacks—except for when those blacks, like Herman Cain, “know their place.” When blacks like Cain come along and defy those threatening stereotypes concerning blacks that “racist” Republicans regard as self-evident truths, then they exploit him in order to prove that they aren’t “racist” after all.
But now, so goes the logic of the leftist’s vision of Republicans, the latter will have a change of heart. Cain would have only appeared to Republicans to have undermined the worst of black stereotypes. But the women—white women—who now alleged that Cain made unwanted sexual advances toward them will surely throw this into doubt, for Cain sounds like precisely the sort of black man that they have always feared, a black man with an insatiable sexual drive and an irrepressible attraction to white women.
On November 14, Kimberle Williams Crenshaw and Catharine A. MacKinnon co-authored an op-ed in The New York Times in which they touch upon this theme of the intersection of black male sexuality, miscegenation, and white hostility. As is clear from the title of their essay, “Why Herman Cain is Unfit to Lead,” the authors are no fans of Cain’s. However, they caution against casually dismissing Cain’s claim to be, like Clarence Thomas two decades earlier, the victim of a “high tech lynching.” They write: “It would be wrong to dismiss the appeal of his defense, given the common dimension of public sexual humiliation and how deeply ‘lynching’ resonates as a metaphor for black men in the real context of the sexual politics of racial hierarchy.”
That is, whites generally and white men in particular have always reserved the harshest treatment for black men who insist on pursuing white women.
Leftist MSNBC contributor Toure is even more explicit on this score. While on Martin Bashir’s program, he remarked: “We’re going to see how open the GOP is to this black—their ‘new black friend’ when they find out he is harassing blonde women as opposed to black women.” The idea here is that because this “sort of thing,” i.e. “predatory black sexuality,” is still “very frightening,” “very threatening,” inAmerica (emphasis mine).
Another MSNBC contributor, Karen Finney, seconded her colleague’s sentiments. Of Republicans, she commented: “Look, I think it will be interesting to see if these guys rally around Herman Cain with as much voracity as they have these last couple of weeks now that it’s clear that a whole other layer of black sexuality has been infused into this.” Finney is confident that the fact that these are “white women” and Cain is a “black man” is not bound to sit well with Republicans—or most whites, for that matter.
Michael Tomasky, contributor to The Daily Beast, argued before anything was known about Cain’s accusers that if the latter were black, this wouldn’t hurt Cain in the least, for “white conservative voters are less likely to care what black people do amongst themselves.” If, though, his accusers turn out to be white, then he can count on losing much support, and “if they’re blonde,” he will lose that much more support (emphasis mine). Granted, Tomasky’s article—“The Cain Sexual-Harassment Game”—is satirical. But it is obvious to all who read it that Tomasky sees his hypothetical thought experiment as embodying real truths about Republicans and blacks.
We know, of course, that when it comes to the issue of white Republicans and Herman Cain—like when it comes to most issues—the leftist is self-delusional. Yet it is precisely because leftists do think this way about white Republicans, race, and sexuality that invests my theory that the Cain “scandal” is politically conceived with a measure of plausibility.
It becomes even more plausible, though, when we recognize that the interracial character of this episode serves another crucial function. It kills two birds with one stone, if you will. Not only can it be made to alienate white Republicans from Cain; it can serve in alienating blacks, black women specifically, from him as well.
As Thomas Sowell has written of Cain: “My gosh, he is certainly one of us [i.e blacks], far more so than Barack Obama [.]” The Democratic Party establishment is not at all comfortable with the prospect of a black man raised in the old South during Jim Crow going up against Barack Obama, a much younger bi-racial candidate who enjoyed a relatively privileged life coming of age in plushHawaii. A brief perusal of their respective histories suggests that Cain is more “authentically” black than Obama.
This, at least, is what leftists think the rest of us think. So, for the sake of precluding that perception, they depict Cain as a black man for whom black women aren’t good enough. That he has been married to a black woman for many years, far from detracting from this message, actually strengthens it, for his wife’s is the face of the black women everywhere who he has disrespected and denigrated by pursuing white women. Cain, blacks can now know, really is “the sell-out Uncle Tom” that they have suspected.
To reiterate, my point here is neither to exculpate Cain from the allegations made against him nor to convict the left of foul play. Rather, I simply wanted to present a theory as to why the left, if it was interested in framing Herman Cain or any black Republican, would choose to do so in terms of the kind of scandal at the center of which Cain currently stands.
Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.