I like Herman Cain. I respect his achievements in the business world and I enjoy listening to him in interviews and debates. He’s an unapologetic conservative who speaks proudly of the American dream, and he comes across as an all around nice guy.
As a conservative, I know I’m not alone in that assessment. In fact, I’d say it’s probably the consensus among us.
According to actress Janeane Garofalo, however, there’s a much different explanation of conservatives’ affection for Cain. She has concluded that they like him because he’s useful in concealing their racism.
Garofalo recently made this declaration on Keith Olbermann’s television show (yes, he still has one), stating, “Herman Cain is probably well liked by some of the Republicans because it hides the racist elements of the Republican party… Herman Cain provides this great opportunity so you can say ‘Look, this is not a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay movement. Look we have a black man.’”
How interesting that for the last three years, progressives (including Garofalo) have routinely touted the claim that conservatives who oppose Obama are racist. Now, the same people are telling us that conservatives who support Cain are… well, racist.
Now while I understand that analyzing the bizarre comments that routinely come out of Garofalo’s mouth isn’t all that productive, there is a purpose in doing so this time. Her remarks serve as a good case study for the racial condescension that is prevalent within the progressive ideology.
Here’s a key question: Why is it so painfully hard for Garofalo to believe that a prestigious black leader like Herman Cain could have actually earned his support? For that matter, why is it so hard for her to believe that Barack Obama could have earned his criticism? Sure, there’s a partisan element to it. Garofalo admittedly hates conservatives and takes every opportunity to bash them, but her implication of racism is what is particularly revealing.
As many might recall, Garofalo was actually the first public figure to levee charges of racism against the Tea Party, back in 2009. Unlike many who have continued her narrative, I believe Garofalo actually believes what she said. She’s not alone.
The reason is that many white liberals absolutely believe that black people in this country (even the highest achievers in our society) can’t stand on their own merits. Their viewpoint stems from white guilt over the racial atrocities committed by their ancestors, and a well-meaning sense of duty to right past wrongs. White guilt is certainly not exclusive to liberals. I’d say a large percentage of white Americans, including myself, have felt it at times in their lives. But the real problem is that the strain of 21st century liberalism that Garofalo comes from believes that there is nobility in identifying black Americans as victims rather than as equals. Sure, they’ll never say that outright, but their actions speak for them.
In Obama’s case, people like Garofalo view him as a helpless victim of white conservatives who resent him for no other reason than the color of his skin. In Cain’s case, they view him as a hapless victim who is too naive to understand that he’s being used as a prop by white conservatives.
To me, those positions are pathetically condescending to both men and to the African American community. Garofalo is essentially attributing their relevance to our political discourse along the lines of their race and not their individuality.
Obama and Cain have both achieved great things in their lives. They have worked harder than many of us to get there. They are not defined by their race as none of us should be. Whether you agree with their politics or not, they’re both American success stories who don’t deserve to be continually insulted and used by people like Garofalo who are obsessed with filtering critiques of individual African Americans through the prism of racism.
The condescension needs to be called out and stopped by those who actually believe in racial equality.
Copyright © 2013 BernardGoldberg.com