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Herman Cain’s views on Muslims

Some words Herman Cain used during last night’s debate of Republican presidential candidates deserve more attention. Asked if he thinks American Muslims are less committed to the Constitution than Christians or Jews, Cain gave a dog-whistle answer that sounded like he was trying to tell bigoted voters he’s on their side, without sounding like too much of a hater himself. Watch this clip and see a politician squirming uncomfortably under his own ignorance:

Here’s a direct link to the clip on CNN.

Some background: In interviews earlier this month, Cain said Muslims would have to prove their loyalty to the Constitution to work in his administration, a standard of proof he would not apply to Christians and Jews. At the debate, Josh McElveen of WMUR asked, “Are American Muslims as a group less committed to the Constitution than say Christians or Jews?” Cain answered:

“First, the statement was, would I be comfortable with a Muslim in my administration, not that I wouldn’t appoint one. That’s the exact transcript. And I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims, those that are trying to kill us. And so when I said I wouldn’t be comfortable, I was thinking about the ones that were trying to kill us.”

Wow! This isn’t a perfect comparison, but imagine a white candidate saying, “I would not be comfortable with a black person in my administration, because you have peaceful blacks and then you have violent blacks, and I was thinking about the violent ones.”

Before anyone had time to process the weight of Cain’s statement, he introduced a red herring, saying he does not support Sharia Law in American courts. Applause followed. Cain then clarified that people who work in his administration would be evaluated based on personal interviews, to get a sense of their loyalty to the Constitution.

At this moment, every other candidate on stage should have been racing to denounce Cain’s remarks as being not just bigoted, but antithetical to Republican politics. All night during the debate, candidates were tripping over themselves to defend the Constitution and the importance of a small federal government. If you take the position that the government shouldn’t meddle with private enterprise, health care, state government, and so forth, doesn’t it follow that the government should avoid religious discrimination?

Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was the only candidate on stage who came anywhere close to disagreeing with Cain. Asked to respond to Cain’s position, he said, “We recognize that people of all faiths are welcome in this country. Our nation was founded on the principle of religious tolerance.” He did not, however, denounce Cain’s remarks directly.

Newt Gingrich was the only other candidate to weigh in on Cain’s bizarre comment, using a story about a would-be Pakistani terrorist to say that he was in favor of requiring people to demonstrate loyalty to the Constitution. “We did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the Communists.” Yeah Newt, those were sure good times.

A sorry showing by all involved.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Politics

One comment

  1. Andres Martin says:

    I just watched this debate for the first time, and I too found it curious that nobody called Herman on such faulty logic. Hell even the audience jumped on the red herring with no hesitation. Its like they’re a bunch of trained seals, barking immediately at the words “obamacare,” “constitution,” and “sharia law.”

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