The strange, racist attack on Herman Cain

While young conservatives chased out a white-supremacist recruiter from CPAC, it seemed that one site on the Left felt more comfortable with racist attacks.  AlterNet, a site that proudly proclaims its “strong content” and “huge readership and reach,” offered its analysis of Herman Cain’s speech at CPAC by calling the former CEO of Godfather Pizza a “monkey in the window”:

In the immortal words of Megatron in Transformers: The Movie, Herman Cain’s speech at CPAC really is bad comedy. As you know, I find black garbage pail kids black conservatives fascinating not because of what they believe, but rather because of how they entertain and perform for their White Conservative masters.

When race minstrelsy was America’s most popular form of mass entertainment, black actors would often have to pretend to be white men, who then in turn would put on the cork to play the role of the “black” coon, Sambo, or Jumping Jim Crow. Adding insult to injury, in a truly perverse and twisted example of the power of American white supremacy black vaudevillians would often pretend to be white in order to denigrate black people for the pleasures of the white gaze. …

In total, CPAC is a carnival and a roadshow for reactionary Conservatives. It is only fitting that in the great tradition of the freak show, the human zoo, the boardwalk, and the great midway world’s fairs of the 19th and 20th centuries, that there is a Borneo man, a Venus Hottentot or a tribe of cannibals from deepest darkest Africa or Papua New Guinea on display. For CPAC and the White Conservative imagination, Herman Cain and his black and brown kin are that featured attraction.

We always need a monkey in the window, for he/she reminds us of our humanity while simultaneously reinforcing a sense of our own superiority. Sadly, there are always folks who are willing to play that role because it pays so well.

Yes, well, I’m pretty sure that Cain is comfortable enough from his private-sector success to not need the supposed financial windfall of a CPAC appearance.  His radio show may pay a decent salary — knowing what I do about regional radio, that’s a rather risky presumption — but it’s not exactly the kind of money that entices CEOs with proven rescue power out of the business world.  Cain has been pretty clear about his passion for conservative politics, and his speech at CPAC — as well as at other venues — was powerful and moving.

Having had to follow him on stage at one event, I can personally attest to the sinking feeling that produces in speakers that have the unfortunate chance of that scheduling.  Having spoken with Cain on a number of occasions, I can also attest to the fact that this man has no masters, white or otherwise.  Herman sails by his own compass at all times, which is one of his most admirable qualities.

But just as with any political figure, Cain may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if one disagrees with his conservative stances.  AlterNet doesn’t just attack his positions or his ideology, both of which are fair game, but attack him for the color of his skin and declares him inauthentic.  In doing so, they make the same assumptions that Jamie Kelso makes and tried to propagate at CPAC, which is that a black man can’t decide for himself what kind of politics he likes, honestly and authentically.

John Hinderaker at Power Line saw this before I did, and notes that my friend Dana Loesch pushed back against AlterNet’s descent into race-baiting:

No, the author doesn’t at all take into consideration Cain’s individuality; in their sloppy logic they shows their cards: all black people must be Democrats thus, if Cain isn’t a Democrat, then he’s a captive conservative. The author insults Cain’s free will and shows once again exactly what progressives think of black Americans: pawns that must be told what to believe. Humans who lack the cognitive ability to make valid choices. Black Americans couldn’t –Cain couldn’t – possibly come to the realization of their conservatism alone! They must have been brainwashed! Because progressives don’t believe that black conservatives possess the ability to make such rational arguments, they, the progressives, must “save” them. And again, progressives insult black conservatives by insisting that they are victims of stupidity.

This is progressive compassion? The complete lack of regard for the beliefs and freedoms of black Americans? Alternet succeeded in showcasing a possible reason for Cain’s conservative beliefs with such an inane display of racist-fueled illogic. With such friends to black America as these, who needs enemies? Is this “New Tone?”

Cain released two statements over the last couple of days on his Facebook page:

Please join me in condemning AlterNet for their shameful behavior towards me and all black conservatives. Special thanks to my friends Niger Innis, Dana Loesch and Andrew Breitbart for standing with me. …

I am humbled by the outpouring support from friends and supporters across the country willing to stand with me to defend civil rights of ALL AMERICANS who love this country and believe in the power of the American Dream. May we never forget the dignity of the individual (which INCLUDES the freedom of thought) as the core of this great nation’s founding and as the calling of this great nation’s future.

AlterNet owes Cain an apology, and perhaps those publications who give “Chauncey deVega” a platform should reconsider their relationships with the writer.

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