Random Question: Are We Stereotyping All White Republicans?
Often we as black and/or gay voters (with the usual exception of GOP Proud, or the delusional queens from Logo who invited Ann Coulter on their show....chile, let me not even turn the ignition and get goin' on that one!) view Republicans as a party responsible for pushing policies and encouraging attitudes that are harmful to our communities. And this is sometimes true (DADT, Welfare reform, Reagnomics, DOMA etc.). But do we cross into hypocrite territory when we lump all Republicans, specifically white Republicans, into the backwoods racists category?
Case in point: I recently came across an article by Mediate.com's Alex Alvarez, discussing a recent MSNBC interview, one of my fav social critics Michael Eric Dyson gave his opinion of presidential hope-not Herman Cain. Here's an excerpt.
On Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz‘s brought on Georgetown professor and author Michael Eric Dyson to discuss Herman Cain‘s assertion that race is a non-issue for his supporters. In his segment, Schultz refers to our exclusive audio recording (Thanks Ed!) of Cain’s appearance on Neal Boortz‘s show.
In their radio interview, Boortz asked Cain to define what it could possibly mean to be an “authentic black” person. Cain responded that he didn’t know, before proceeding to trace his family tree back to his ancestors’ experience as slaves in Georgia (which prompted Boortz to ask whether he had any relatives who may have been slaves on the South Carolina plantation owned by members of his family). Cain then called talks about “authentic blacks,” a “crass, desperate attempt to try and, here again, insult me. What do they mean by ‘authentic’?”
Cain had also told Boortz that many black Americans on the left, despite their claims to the contrary, end up being more bigoted than “the white people that they’re claiming to be racist.” Later on, he and Boortz agreed that Barack Obama has never been a part of the “black experience” in America — a sentiment which contradicts and undermines Cain’s earlier frustration at the idea that there exists such a thing as an “authentic” black person, who acts and thinks and speaks a certain way.
Dyson’s reaction to the Boortz interview?
He seems willing to say anything in order to curry white favor [Italics mine].
So. Responding to a sweeping and racially problematic assumption with more sweeping and racially problematic assumptions… Is that really an answer? Is it productive? Does it move the conversation forward, or simply help it circle faster down the drain ... for pundits to continue to frame Cain’s campaign of one of “selling out” his race by pandering to white Republicans — who, not sure if you’re aware, are apparently all uniformly afraid of black people — is, hi, also not exactly a noble demonstration of progressive attitudes towards race.
Again: Everyone loses. Always. Forever.
Now, do I agree with Professor Dyson (who, true to loquacious form, said a lot more than that one italicized sentence) that Herman Cain is pandering to white Republicans by saying race is a non issue in the Republican party, racism isn't a barrier to success and other gibberish? Yes. Remember, this is the same man who got caught in a lie about his reasons for not getting involved in the civil rights movement back in the day. Which I must say is not a horrible thing in and of itself. Lots of black folks didn't march, get attacked by dogs or blasted by fire hoses, contrary to what I call the Madea-visionist history spouted by some older blacks. But what's not okay is Cain not only lying about his reason for not getting involved, but turning around and saying he's become successful only by virture of being an American, forgetting the success of the civil rights movement is largely responsible for the opportunities that became available to him.
However, I do agree with Alvarez's point that labeling all white Republicans as foam-at-the-mouth racists who terrified of black people doesn't exactly help matters. Are there members of the party, particularly the Tea Party faction, who are racist, religious fanatics who would love to see all gays destroyed and Jim Crow laws reinstated? Yes. But I would like to believe that Cain is only pandering to those people, and that his words aren't resonating with the whole base.
Call me crazy, but I'd like to think that there are some conservatives who don't see President Obama and make some bigoted, Planet of The Apes-style joke, or see the marriage of two men or two women as one of the signs of the apocalypse. Do we miss out on those types of Republicans when we direct all our anger and attention at the imbeciles? Are we guilty of the same racial stereotyping and generalization that we abhor?
Watch Dyson's MSNBC interview with Ed Schultz below and Discuss.