Republican presidential candidate, and tea party member, Herman Cain shows us that you do not have to be white to be racist. Cain is an African American businessman and Baptist minister who is also featured occasionally in tea party adds to counteract allegations of racism in the tea party. Since Cain is a solid member of the tea party then what he says in his presidential run can be construed as typical tea party beliefs.
On last Sundays “Fox News Sunday” Cain said that communities have a right to ban Islamic mosques. Cain referred to the protests in Tennessee as an example of citizens pushing back. Cain said his view doe not amount to religious discrimination because he says that Muslims are trying to inject Shariah into the laws of the United States. This view of Shariah is pretty typical of white (now one African American), conservative Republican thinking. Cain’s reasoning that his view is not religious discrimination doesn’t hold water since Shariah is part of the Islamic belief system. Cain’s statement is an affront to Muslims in the United States and to Muslims in general. A study conducted by the University of Washington reports that 73% of tea party supporters disapprove of Obama’s policy of engaging Muslim countries. Cain certainly fits right into this category.
I have neighbors who are tea partiers and they hide much of their racist beliefs under the guise of patriotism and love of the good old USA. They too believe that Muslims are going to use our laws to take over the country and they support any candidate that takes a bold stand against Muslims. They are probably quite happy with Cain’s statements. These neighbors sent me the vilest and racist photos that I have ever seen showing Muslims protesting. It was a typical hate and scare tactic of photos lifted out of the media and put into a slide show without telling the whole story of the protest and pictures. This, of course, was meant to show me the evil of all Muslims. My neighbors know that I have many Muslim friends and that I am an advocate for social justice.
Cain reflects the dominant thinking of many tea partiers that I have met and many tea party statements that I have read. He is exceptional only by the fact that he is African American. Tea party members are typically white, male, married, over 45, more conservative than the general population and likely to be wealthy according to Wikipedia. This profile is typical of the dominate group in America.
The University of Washington study also reported that tea partiers also support the controversial immigration laws like Arizona’s by a whopping 88%. 82% do not believe that gay and lesbian should have a legal right to marry and more than half believe that gays and lesbians have too much political power. These views fit right into their conservative religious beliefs and their hostilities towards immigrants.
I find Cain’s statement about communities having the right to ban mosques to be racist and against the beliefs of the very country that he is from which guarantees religious freedom for all citizens. The tea party asserts that is was formed to bring America back to its roots, its early ideals and its beliefs. Of course, you need to be white, heterosexual, Christian, upper middle or upper class, older to reflect this view of America. Herman Cain is a tea party demagogue and would be a better fit in a country led by a tyrannical tea partier.
Timothy A. Bess
July 18, 2011