Cain, The GOP, And Race
An enlightened discussion on race. One that doesn’t get enough discussion in the dominant culture. Racism is more implicit than explicit nowadays…but it still has detrimental affects and it needs to be called out.
SN: I don’t believe that Cornel West’s recent critique of the President caled into effect the authenticity of Obama’s Blackness. That part of the critique has been greatly over blown…
To the extent that racism remains a problem in America, it isn’t because, as in the 1960s, there was a segment of the American polity that openly embraced the doctrine of white supremacy. Quite the opposite really, Americans are fully capable of both indulging in blanket generalizations in matters of race while forming relationships with members of the group they hold broad negative beliefs about. There’s nothing particularly new about this sort of cognitive dissonance–Thomas Jefferson may have loved Sally Hemmings but it didn’t stop him from owning slaves.
What this means though, is that it’s really not useful to talk about people being “racist,” in the sense of people being committed to white supremacy, but rather the the lingering cognitive dissonance that allows people to reject racism as an idea while still succumbing to prejudice, particularly in anger. No, the Tea Party is not, and never has been the KKK. But that’s really irrelevant to the question of how racism factors into if not opposition to Obama (since, as Somerby points out, any Dem president would be getting the business), but more importantly, how that opposition manifests.
The extent to which Cain and other black conservatives hold appeal to the GOP remains sadly linked to the degree to which they can exonerate Republicans from charges of racism, particularly when it comes to racially charged attacks on Democrats. Take for example, Cain’s declaration that he’s disliked because Democrats are “are doubly scared that a real black man might run against Barack Obama.” The implication here is that Obama is “not a real black man,” because, well, I have no idea, Cain’s dumb critique wasn’t as well fleshed out as that of Cornel West. But conservatives really like the idea of challenging Obama on matters of racial authenticity. As Matt Lewis wrote, “Cain — unlike President Obama (a point sure to come up if Cain gains traction) — knows what it’s like to drink from a “colored” water fountain.” Of course this really just means Cain is older than Obama but you get the point, you don’t have to be a celebrity professor at Princeton to question whether Obama is “really black.” Does Somerby believe this isn’t racist? – Adam Serwer