Good For Herman Cain

Herman Cain apparently met with "Muslim leaders" yesterday to discuss his statements about blocking mosques and banning Muslims from his cabinet:

“I would be flabbergasted if he ever repeated those statements and said that communities should be allowed to ban mosques,” He said. “I think that the meeting today has changed his mind 100 percent. From the tenor of the conversation, I can’t see him repeating such things.”

In a statement sent to reporters following the meeting, Cain apologized for causing offense to Muslims, but didn’t renounce his earlier comments.

“While I stand by my opposition to the interference of shariah law into the American legal system, I remain humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends,” Cain said. “I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it. Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully.”

This is one of our weirder political rituals, in which politicians who have made some offensive comment apologize to the "representatives" of the aggrieved party instead of simply saying they were wrong. But Cain deserves credit for doing the right thing, sort of. But it would have been better if he had not gone off on this Islamophobic tangent to begin with. 

There's really only so far Cain can go here without alienating his base, which is manifestly ignorant about the distinction between Shariah applying in contract or civil cases -- where religious law has long played some role -- and women being stoned to death for adultery. There is no risk of Shariah replacing the Constitution. Still, it's unlikely that his apology is going to win him many friends either.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Spencer Ackerman makes a good point about Cain's statements that Muslim accomplishments are "drowned out by the reprehensible actions of jihadists."

Their good will is not being drowned out by the reprehensible actions of jihadists. They bear no culpability for the reprehensible actions of jihadists. Their good will is being drowned out by the reprehensible actions of you. Go back and try this apology one more time.

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