Herman Cain's Islamophobic Bargaining

My latest at Greg's place is on Herman Cain's insistence that the First Amendment doesn't protect Muslims:

The most pathetic part of Cain’s argument however, is his insistence that “the people in the community know best.” Most people in Tennessee support or are indifferent to the mosque, only 28 percent of those polled last year opposed it. But even if the community were overwhelmingly opposed to the mosque, that wouldn’t justify discriminating against Muslims, anymore than popular support for segregation in the 1960s American South would have justified discriminating against blacks. Cain recently opined that President Barack Obama isn’t a “strong black man” like Martin Luther King Jr. Does Cain truly believe that the MLK Jr, who referred to Islam as one of the world’s “great religions” and fought his entire life against the idea that “local control” somehow trumps the fundamental rights of individual minorities, would have supported a ban on mosques?

It was the first President of the United States however, who said that America gives to “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” Those words were more aspiration than fact when George Washington, himself a slaveowner, wrote them. But today, they are among the most basic principles any presidential candidate must uphold. Cain doesn’t even appear to want to uphold them.

David Weigel posts a video showing that the motivation behind Cain's recent stand is that he's bought the "stealth jihad" narrative hook, line, and sinker, after speaking to the attorney behind the lawsuit in Tennessee:

We have separation of church and state. Islam combines church and state, with what they call sharia law. This is why I've been making the statement when asked about putting Muslims in my administration. I said, no, I'm not comfortable with that off the bat. That's not discrimination. That's just being cautious, because there are incidents around this country, like the attempt to build the mosque in Murfreesboro, like the attempt to build the mosque next to Ground Zero. There are other exceptions all over this country. They use our First Amendment, with the church part, without judges sometimes recognizing that there's another component. And so the bottom line is that I believe in American laws, American courts. In Murfreesboro, I talked to some of the people there. I had a conversation with one of the attorneys who was working on this case. And he said to me they know for a fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is behind the building of that mosque.

These would be the same attorneys who argued that the mosque should not be built because "these are the same people who flew jets into the World Trade Center on 9/11."

The obvious response is that there's no manner in which building a mosque frays the line between church and state, while banning mosques absolutely does. Moreover, Cain's opposition to same-sex marriage on the basis that homosexuality is "sinful" is a far more blatant example of the erosion of church and state, but Cain's opposition is selective: He believes in a separation of "mosque and state," not church and state, better defined as an indefensible belief that Muslims do not have First Amendment rights. He feels Christians are entitled to legislate their religious views into law but believes Muslims do not have the right to freedom of worship.

Tim Murphy mocked Politico for writing "Cain, an African-American who grew up during the civil rights era, claimed he was not discriminating against Muslims," saying that the initial clause is irrelevant. Of course it's relevant. The path to integration for minorities in America has always involved trampling over the bodies of those below you in the caste system, and for ethnic whites that usually meant black people. It's no shocker that Cain is attempting to purchase the affection of Republican primary voters by trampling Muslims underfoot, any more than it is that he feels obligated to exonerate the party from charges of racism while launching racially charged attacks against the president. There's a myth that personal knowledge of oppression breeds wisdom; in fact, one has to be wise or brave enough to grasp it. The easy route to mainstream acceptance has always been agreeing to bargain away the rights of those more hated than you.

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