Merlene Davis: When Herman Cain cries racism, he's really crying wolf

The best defense isn't in being offensive

Herald-Leader columnistNovember 6, 2011 

Cain Alabama

Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain campaigns in Talladega, Ala., Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

DAVE MARTIN — AP

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain did not have a very good week. It started out with him being a frontrunner for the GOP nomination and ended with him being testy with reporters who questioned him about two 12-year-old accusations of sexual harassment against him.

After a few hours of claiming he couldn't remember, Cain said the allegations were unfounded. After a few hours of saying that, Cain blamed the liberal media and said he was being attacked because he is a black conservative.

I don't know why these accusations have surfaced now. I don't know why the accusations were made in the first place. But to wave a banner claiming racism just because the accused is black doesn't sit well with me.

Cain was joined by several notable conservatives Tuesday who also claimed the reports were race-based.

"It's really about blacks and Hispanics getting too uppity," talk show host Rush Limbaugh said.

But it was what conservative commentator Ann Coulter said that caught the ear of Marvin Pickett, 69, of Versailles. "Our blacks are much better than their blacks," Coulter told Fox News in referring to Democrats.

Pickett, who is white, called me Wednesday. He was angered by Coulter's words.

"That one comment stood out more than any I've heard in 50 years, and it absolutely incensed me," Pickett said. "How can anybody possibly say that? It offends me so bad I can't stand it.

"Why didn't she just substitute 'our n-word can pick cotton better compared to your n-word.' It is obscene."

Coulter went on to say, "To become a black Republican, you don't just roll into it. You're not going with the flow. You have fought against probably your family members, probably your neighbors, you have thought everything out, and that's why we have very impressive blacks in our party."

Coulter later said during the same interview, "The only racism you hear in America is against conservative blacks."

Admittedly, I paused when I heard her words. I didn't think anyone owned black people anymore and I know for a fact that racists seldom wait to learn your political ideology before acting racist.

But, this is Ann Coulter. It is her job to be outrageous, so I didn't have the same reaction as Pickett. Coulter's words were expected.

I definitely was offended, however, by Cain, whose defense went from having little or no memory of what happened to "it's only because I'm black."

Please.

Cain knew some 10 days before the accusations were published by Politico.com that several news organizations were looking into them. He reportedly discussed them with campaign staffers who worked on his failed Senate bid in 2004. In fact, the Cain campaign is now claiming one of those staffers, now working for Republican opponent Rick Perry, tipped off the media.

Give me a minute to wade through all that to find the racial implications Cain claims.

Hmmm. Can't do it.

Saying someone revealed the two cases of inappropriate sexual behavior, is the truth. Saying it was revealed because you are black is a serious stretch.

President Barack Obama has been depicted as Sambo on signs. The White House lawn has been pictured as a watermelon patch since his election. The entire Obama family has been depicted as monkeys. It doesn't get more racist than that.

And yet Obama has never once said those taunts were directed at him because of his race.

I think he would have been on sound footing if he had, though.

In Cain's case, the National Restaurant Association, the group he led when the allegations were made, paid off two women and barred them from talking about the incidents. If the organization did that because of Cain's race, shouldn't he have protested then as loudly as he is protesting now? Shouldn't he have said those women were picking on him because he is black?

Come on, now. Racism is not a card game or a tool to be wielded to deflect attention from our actions. If the sexual harassment allegations were based on his race, Cain should have said something when the charges were leveled.

If Cain is saying the media is racist for reporting on the charges and continuing to look into his past, he should know that the media would have reported that story if the subject had been Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential contender who is white. Use President Bill Clinton as a reference here.

I am not fond of folks who claim discrimination when there is none. It's like falsely claiming rape or child abuse to settle a score. There is plenty of racism to report in this country. Plenty to report in Kentucky and Fayette County. Real, hurtful racism.

But in October, Cain said, "Some people want to say that there's still rampant racism in America. No, it's not. It's not. I would recognize it, if it were.

"... For the majority of the American people it is about content of your ideas and character, and it is not about color."

But that was last month. Now it is more beneficial for Cain to join other conservatives in crying wolf.

Reach Merlene Davis at (859) 231-3218 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3218, or mdavis1@herald-leader.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service