Sunday, June 12, 2011

Of Herman Cain, Pesky Negro Agitators, and the Free Rider Problem in the Glorious Black Freedom Struggle

Heading into his senior year of high school, Cain had the opportunity to be in the first class of black students to integrate Atlanta high schools. But he didn’t choose the path of the Little Rock Nine. “I was a good student, and my principal and my counselor came to me and asked if I would be willing to be one of the kids to be bused to another part of town,” Cain said. “I talked to my dad about it, and he didn’t say ‘Don’t do it.’ But he said, ‘Well, you could do that if you want to, but that’s not your fight by yourself. You’ve got a chance to go on to college,’ which he couldn’t do.”

How could leaving Archer have kept him from college? “I could have gone over there, and they could have made it so unbelievably difficult that I might not have graduated. We didn’t know what to expect.” He paused to take a few bites. “Remember, the world wasn’t fair then. Okay? So I prayed about it, decided not to do it.”

A quick thought before the Tea Party GOP demolition derby debate in New Hampshire on Monday night.

Most folks would like to believe that they would fight the good fight, join up with the Freedom Riders and take on Jim Crow, struggle as guerrillas with the French Underground, or fly their Y-wing fighters with the Rebel Alliance against the evil Galactic Empire. But how many of us actually would?

According to The Weekly Standard, Herman Cain wants all of the good white folks to know that he was not one of those pesky Negro rapscallion agitators who were causing trouble in the South during The Civil Rights Movement. This is not a dog whistle--what is a much overused phrase these days. Rather, Cain's interview with The Weekly Standard is a naked signal to his white public that he is one of "the good ones."

As a black conservative, playing the role of racial accommodationist, good luck salve and lucky charm is de riguer: especially given how Herman Cain makes light jokes about segregated water fountains, the tone of his interview with The Weekly Standard is not at all surprising.

Nevertheless, there is an interesting and productive question that comes from Herman Cain's admission that he had better things to do instead of fighting Jim and Jane Crow White supremacy. In any struggle or movement there really is no real incentive to participate. Because the goals are usually a type of public good (i.e. something that has to be granted to all parties and cannot generally be denied to a given individual) why risk one's life, limbs, health, and safety when there are others who are perfectly willing to carry the burden with little if any cost to you?

Enter: the classic free rider, collective action problem. If most folks just want to stay out of the way of history and are content to remain anonymous as they simply go about their business in the face of Power, is it fair or reasonable to expect them to fight the good fight? More bluntly, are the Herman Cains of the world--those who stood by while others struggled--cowards? Or is coward too mean and imprecise a word?

Maybe the black, brown, women, gay, working class, and other folks who stood on the sidelines while other people labored to expand democracy and make citizenship more full were simply rational actors who played the game well.

That may not seem very civic-minded, but it is perhaps a cold, hard, truth.

23 comments:

CNu said...

Maybe the black, brown, women, gay, working class, and other folks who stood on the sidelines while other people labored to expand democracy and make citizenship more full were simply rational actors who played the game well.

Gutless cowards and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line inheritors of the benefits of the civil rights movement.

THAT'S the cold hard truth of the matter. Everything else is merely self-calming, post-hoc rationalization...,

Thrasher said...

Cain is very close to being a coward but that would be to easy to indict him with that label..

Cain is like the majority of people Black,White, Asian, Hispanic free riders..

CD 's your interpetation is right on!!!!!!Superb Analysis ...

Sherry Peyton said...

I don't know that we have to go far to find answers here. There are a plethora of wrong actions occurring in our world today and we need only look at how often we are individually stepping forward to give testimony to truth. While many are not physcially dangerous as the freedom riders were, still they give us a hint as to how committed we actually are.

Still, Cain, by all manner of adding up, comes up short. It's pretty easy to draw the line from who he was to who he is. Frankly, I find him both sad and funny at the same time. His following consists of bigots who use him to prove they aren't. What it must be like to be him. I suspect the shame creeps in late at night.

CareyCarey said...

Mr. Chauncey, you apparently have a stack of money. I mean, day after day you’ve had your foot so far up in the Cain Thang’s ass that you couldn’t possibly wear those same shoes - another day - after pulling them out of that stankin’ tunnel. But then again, maybe you ‘re practicing what you preach; taking one for the team, slamming his rectum without protection (footwear), nor caring what the Shift Shakers and Fake Jakers think about you.

I can see it, you’re up early in the morning doing your morning thing; drinking your coffee and looking around to see who will get blasted with your daily wisdom. You have a few in mind but before you make the decision on who will get your evil eye, you decide to think on it a little longer while you throw a little water on your tired bones. Now, everyone knows you can debate with the best of them, but we also know you can’t hit a note with a shotgun. So, although you love to sing, you decide to sing your thoughts on your upcoming activities, while taking your morning shower. You know, something like Rumpelstiltskin, the dwarf hopping about his fire and singing... “Today I brew, tomorrow I bake; And then the Prince child I will take; for no one knows my little game, that Rumplestiltskin is my name!”


So Chauncey, you’re standing in your shower and your song (to your detractors and Mr Cain) goes something like this...

"Well, it's one for the money, two negros for the show, better to get ready, now go, cat, go.
But don't you (Cain) step on my blue suede shoes. You can do anything (with your light jokes about segregated water fountains ass) but stay off of my blue suede shoes.

Well, you can knock me down
Step in my face
Slander my name
All over the place

Do anything that you want to do, my political views are gonna blast on you.
But uh-uh, honey
Lay off of my shoes
Don't you step on my blue suede shoes

Well, you can do anything you wanna do, with your classic free rider ass, but stay off of my blue suede shoes. You can burn my house, steal my car, drink my liquor from an old fruit jar, cuz you’re a black sambo playing master’s guitar.

Do anything that you want to do (Mr. Buck Dancer Cain)
But uh-uh, honey lay off of my shoes. Carey said I have a lot of cash, but that’s not true, so I’m gonna take off my shoes while I blast your ass.

And don't you step on my blue - as you might say - political views -
nor, my blue suede shoes. “for no one knows my little game, that Chauncey Vega is my name!”

chaunceydevega said...

@Cnu. What would Nash of a beautiful mind say about all of this?

@Thrasher. I actually am tiring of having to deal w. Cain. But it is a public service. Got other things to talk about too.

@Sherry. I don't think he feels any shame at all. He lays awake counting his money and feels noble because he is showing white folks how "good" blacks can be. Cain is unrepentant. Watch the debate tonight, he may channel the Jeffersons or Good Times.

@Carey. I never had a song written about my odd ways. I wish I had a stack of money. Oh I do. Maybe when I am tempted to come out of the shadows I can count my stack of pennies. But as I told Thrasher, someone has got to do this dirty work. Other things to do too.

Hollywood4Cain said...

Wow, I've never seen people make so many excuses for themselves in my whole life. Cain made himself a success because he 'sold himself out' to whitey I guess. Bullshit on that.

He made himself a success because he made himself a success. If you want to bash him, bash him for the right reason: you're jealous of his success in a world you view as racist and he does not. Perhaps that's why he's successful? Ever think of that?

Check out this short compilation video which shows a bit of the difference in world view between Herman Cain and President Obama. Clearly, Mr. Cain believes in an empowerment society, where we're each given the ability to improve our own circumstances, and President Obama and his administration are stuck in a victim mentality where the best folks can hope for is a handout from the government. Obama's stance virtually ensures generational poverty for many.

Watching this video, one gets the sense that when Herman Cain debates Obama on race and when Herman Cain debates Obama on the economy, Mr. cain will take Obama to the woodshed.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Hollywood4Cain?feature=mhee#p/a/u/2/kH1F5n7S5x4

Herman Cain 2012

Thrasher said...

Hollywood 4Cain,

Get lost..Posters here have little regard for publicists and ass kissers..

Anybody here would dominate Cain 24/7...

Now run aong ..

Vesuvian Woman said...

Clearly his role model growing-up was his senior citizen patriarch, probably raised by a woman. What seperates people like you (gross presumption on my part) is that the seniors you knew in youth probably weren't that old. To clarify, they had few or limited to ties to people who surpassed the age of 75 prior to 1950. My own great-grandmother is nearly 100 yrs young. She is quick to confess that up until Civil Disobedience, All Blacks were republicns. Lincoln freed the slaves was a logical justification to these up&comers. Education first. Then stand... elbows out ; )

fred c said...

I am certainly not envious of Mr. Cain's success, nor do I grudge it to him. He has worked hard and gotten great results in life, good for him, I find it admirable. It's his character and his ideas that I object to. He suffers terribly from pride (Pride even), and his ideas are anti-progress, anti-diversity, anti-worker, anti-American, anti-intellectual, and anti-common-sense.

CNu said...

@Cnu. What would Nash of a beautiful mind say about all of this?

"He made himself a success because he made himself a success. If you want to bash him, bash him for the right reason: you're jealous of his success in a world you view as racist and he does not. Perhaps that's why he's successful? Ever think of that?" or some such paranoid schizophrenic chindribble...,

gordon gartrelle said...

I side with Ralph Ellison over Hannah Arendt in their debate over the use of children in political struggles; however, it's not reasonable to ask children to face violent monsters as a matter of course.

What the participants on the frontlines of Black Freedom Struggles did was abnormal & exceptionally courageous. There's no shame in falling short of that lofty standard.

There should be shame, though, in trumpeting your nonparticipation in order to appease mouth-breathers too cowardly to admit that they're racist.

CNu said...

however, it's not reasonable to ask children to face violent monsters as a matter of course.

Read Grimm's fairy tales. What's "not reasonable" is failure to teach your children about the nature of the psychopathocracy and EXACTLY what they're up against.

What the participants on the frontlines of Black Freedom Struggles did was abnormal & exceptionally courageous. There's no shame in falling short of that lofty standard.

The abject shame of the 2nd and 3rd line inheritors is their passive assimilation to the materialism and militarism of the psychopathocracy.

By this standard, there's less shame and less hypocrisy in Cain's antics, "massa, I respecks an admires yo monstrosity and I wants to be a melinated monster too!!!"

Anonymous said...

There's a considerable difference between teaching your kids about the depths of white supremacy & allowing them to face the full brunt of its physical terror.

Moreover, there's a considerable difference between simply wanting to avoid a boot to your skull and buying wholesale into the materialist assimilation you describe.

CNu said...

I understand you scurred Festus...,

But this is 2011.

We're generations of elite hackers, special forces commandos, and highest echelon command and control into the belly of this psychopathocratic beast.

If you and your children can't or won't compete - given the riches of ruthless knowledge, skill, and ability placed at your disposal - then please quietly and inconspicuously move out of evolution's way...,

Anonymous said...

1. "Competing" is a nice euphemism. Let's be clear about what we're talking about: choosing to endure repeated brutal violence against your children. It's easy to talk all that "I wouldn'ta stood for that" shit from afar, when you & your kids have already reaped the benefits.

To make this a manichaen right/wrong choice is silly.

Which brings me to 2. Today's racism is pernicious, but few things we face today is as direct and intense as what the previous generations faced.

I'm grateful for the. Families that sacrificed for all of us so that we don't have to employ our children to catch wreck from Rednecks.

--Gordon

CNu said...

Listen Gordon,

I come to this challenge as the son of the first black firearms dealer in the state of Kansas and one of the very first in the U.S.

Scion of a truly free black man born in 1907 - who lived through all of the nonsense perpetrated during the 20th century - and never once in his entire life put up with any type of violence from any redneck whatsoever.

What?

Do you imagine that Robert Williams was sui generis?

Some folk been making the redneck return on violence investment intolerable since loooong before you were born.

Don't kid yourself into believing that the Civil Rights Movement was won in anything even remotely approaching its entirety by non-violent martyrs who allowed their children to be brutalized for the cameras.

shiiiiiittttt...., hard black men been putting in Darwins work and training up their sons and daughters in the cutting edge of societal evolution for generations.

Didn't you get the memo elucidating the maxim about "power concedes nothing"???

Anonymous said...

cNu,

You realize that one can recognize & the long tradition of black self-defense while appreciating black parents' desires to shield their children from bodily harm, right?

What do we gain from binary thinking on this?

--Gordon

CNu said...

Bringing us full-circle to exactly what I wrote up top;

Maybe the black, brown, women, gay, working class, and other folks who stood on the sidelines while other people labored to expand democracy and make citizenship more full were simply rational actors who played the game well.

Gutless cowards and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line inheritors of the benefits of the civil rights movement.

THAT'S the cold hard truth of the matter. Everything else is merely self-calming, post-hoc rationalization.

And yes, it IS as binary as that. There are those to whom the spoils of the victory belong, and there are far too many useless, gutless hangers-on, who undeservedly obtained the spoils that others bravely fought and sacrificed for.

Thrasher said...

Cnu,

You fucking nailed it...Right On!!!

Anonymous said...

Cnu,

I really do appreciate the passion, but these rigid, ideological definitionss don't make any practical sense: they don't square with mundane realities of child rearing.

--Gordon

CNu said...

SMH@mundane realities of child-rearing...,

Gordon,

Do you personally know how to - and have you taught your son(s)/daughter(s) how to - hunt/fish - you know - actually kill something then dress it, bag it, cook it? That whole self-sufficiency cycle was conveyed to me when I was 7 years old and got my first 410/22 over-under varmint gun.

I hate to admit it, but I didn't get around to the "where does food actually come from and are you up to the task of getting your own?" with my children until they were each 11.

My daughter never cottoned to it, and she even went on a vegetarian detour for about 6 months after the trauma of killing and cleaning a rabbit. {My son, OTOH, took to it like a fish to water, much as I did back in the day.}

On the other hand, old girl (now 17) can dismantle and clean a Baretta 92 blindfolded in under 3 minutes and she's an expert markswoman.

these rigid ideological definitions

lol, seriously dood, there's nothing ideological about having the practical skills to take care yourself under adverse conditions.

Oh, and since we're now discursively engaged, the little boy also got his first UNIX laptop last week (Ubuntu) and while his other little cronies consume PS3 diversions, he'll be diving into the command-line and the do-it-yourself sufficiency required to become a controller and producer of digital deliverables rather than a passive and ignorant consumer of the same.

I was proud as hell of the young brother when he informed me that he configured wireless networking on his own, for which he had to sudo and give himself root.

By the time he's 15, if everything doesn't go to hell in a handbasket before then, he'll be an archon of these interwebs - doing things that his cronies can only look at in stupified awe - unless of course he decides to bring a few of them along to keep himself amused....,

Anonymous said...

Cnu,

That's beautiful. I applaud your efforts. I'm envious, no bullshit.

--Gordon

CNu said...

dont be envious G, get busy - nothing keeping you from it but air and opportunity.

to whom much is given, and all-a-dat yadda, yadda....,