Herman Cain has some interesting ideas; some of them are interesting in the worst way. His thing, as you may have noticed, is to be even more of a bigoted, stereotyping apologist for Jim Crow than the White fools whose interest he is courting in his ego-driven run for the Republican presidential nomination. In this effort he has been largely successful, since by virtue of being Black he can say things that the White bigots could never get away with.
Like saying that Jim Crow was no big deal. After all, Blacks had water fountains too, and “the water tasted the same.” Well, I’m old enough to have seen some of those things when they were the norm all over Dixie, and I doubt that it’s true that the water tasted the same. I saw places where the “Whites Only” water fountain was a very nice, sparkling chrome push-button drinking fountain, while the “Blacks Only” fountain was a hose-bib on muddy ground around the side of the building. “Fountain” my ass, more like a cheap euphemism, like “separate but equal.”
“Separate but equal” was anything but. I well remember the public beaches around the Tampa Bay down in Florida. There’s a causeway across the bay, and the “White Only” beaches were on the bay side of the causeway, nice, sandy beaches with clear water and good facilities, bathrooms and sun-protected picnic tables. The “Black Only” beaches were on the inlet side, muddy beaches with almost no facilities, shallow water full of sword grass. And these were just the visible signs of Jim Crow. Harder to spot was the job discrimination, the lousy education, and the general lack of financial opportunities, like the fact that banks wouldn’t offer mortgages to Black applicants.
In Cain-World, however, there was nothing holding back American Blacks except their own laziness and their victim-complex. A “strong Black man” like Herman Cain didn’t suffer from those things, so he naturally rose to the top of the meritocracy ladder and made quite a little success of himself. Shout it from the rooftops! I am Herman Cain and I’m not like those people!
There is one thing that I may have in common with Mr. Cain, and that is his attitude to the term “African-American.” He doesn’t like it, probably because as much as he doesn’t want to be associated with Black Americans, he really, really doesn’t want to be associated with those even lower class Africans. You know, I have no license to have an opinion here, nobody’s asking me what I think the classifier should be for Black Americans, but if I were one, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with “African American” either. I have nothing against Africans, they’re doing their thing, but I have noticed over the years that Africans rarely have anything nice to say about American Blacks. Africans do not consider American Blacks to be Africans at all, nor even particularly Black. Who needs that shit? That’s President Obama’s problem in a nutshell: not White enough for some of the White people; not Black enough for some of the Black people. That’s a rock and a hard place right there.
So Herman Cain, maybe I’ll give him the “African American” thing, although I’m sure we don’t agree on where we’re coming from. But here’s what’s really interesting about Herman Cain. Whereas President Obama is constantly characterized by many people as unqualified to be president, somehow unsuitable to be president, and wildly mischaracterized as a political radical, Herman Cain is touted by the same people as a wonderful alternative. The President gets it in the neck because he’s Black, let’s not kid ourselves, but Black Herman Cain gets a pass, how does that work? Can I guess? The President stands for the proposition that Black Americans are fully empowered now and capable of anything, which is threatening to some people; Herman Cain stands for the proposition that Herman Cain is fully empowered and capable but the rest of those Black fools need a lot of tough love before they’ll amount to anything, which is somehow reassuring to some people.
This is the sheerest racism, and it is only the racism of Herman Cain himself, bolstered by smoke and mirrors, that keeps him in the race. All the while, it is Mr. Cain who is really unqualified to be president (he has no experience in politics and seemingly no understanding of our form or government or our freedoms), really unsuitable to be president (he doesn’t have the temperament for it, he’s impatient and undiplomatic), and really the more politically radical of the two. President Obama is a centrist, right-of-center if anything, which is the new center I suppose. Mr. Cain is a reactionary if ever there was one, pandering to a very reactionary crowd, I don’t even want to mention their name, I’m hoping that one morning I’ll wake up and their fifteen minutes will be up. Center? Right? those people can’t even see the center from where they hang out, they’re off the arc altogether, on the dark side of the moon, in their stupid three-cornered hats.
Politics! It’s enough to drive a man back to the church. The frying pan is a day at the beach, after the fire.