Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It isn't the Reverend Wright Scandal (Yet): Herman Cain's "Liberal" Black Church Problem

Herman Cain has vaulted to the top of the polls as a Republican presidential candidate, but there’s one audience that may prove tougher for him to win over: his hometown church.
Cain, a conservative who recently said African-Americans were “brainwashed” into voting Democratic, is an associate minister at an Atlanta megachurch that has been a stronghold of liberal activism and is led by a pastor who cites Malcolm X as one of his influences.
Cain is a longtime member of Antioch Baptist Church North, which sits near the former college and home of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The church, founded by freed slaves 134 years ago, boasts 14,000 members and an operating budget of more than $5 million. For years Antioch has hosted a “who’s who” of civil rights activists as guest speakers, including Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young.
Antioch’s powerful senior pastor, the Rev. C.M. Alexander, doesn’t share Cain’s political philosophy, Atlanta clergy say. But Cain and Alexander are so close that Cain sang “The Impossible Dream” for the pastor’s 50th anniversary celebration. The Atlanta businessman-turned-presidential hopeful is well liked by many members of his church, though some disagree with his politics, Antioch pastors say.Cain’s piety may be just as fascinating as his politics, interviews suggest.
“He’s a real person who is more complicated than the sound bite you may have heard from him,” says the Rev. Fredrick Robinson, a friend of Cain’s who was an associate minister at Antioch before leaving to form his own church.
At Antioch, Cain has had to share the pews with fiery critics of the Republican Party like Joe Beasley, a man born to sharecroppers who once said he’s been called the “N-word” more times than he can count.
I have some pieces forthcoming on Boardwalk Empire, Sons of Anarchy, and other goodness in the next few days, but in the meantime I thought that I would offer my obligatory observation on the Tea Party GOP debate in Las Vegas.

In all, it was a joy to watch. We had apples and oranges, pandering to the religious Right, allusions to the "fact" those who are not "godly" and religious have no character and are thus unfit to be President, and of course the obligatory rantings and lies about "Obamacare" and the evils of "regulation." Ron Paul also brought the truth on Ronnie Raygun--what was a priceless moment.

Herb Cain did okay. True, dude did get beat up and couldn't answer questions with any directness or sincerity beyond his shallow talking points. But, there were no gaffes as major as not knowing what neoconservatism is, or being forced to walk back his joke about killing people with electricity and his super border fence.

However, yesterday's story on CNN about Herman Cain's church family is going to get him in trouble sooner rather than later. I am not religious. Moreover, I do not "get" the black church. As a result, I do not have a proverbial dog in the fight in conversations about black religiosity.

That having been said, I marvel at how black folks love to let all sorts of people into their churches, video cameras on, dvds ready for sale, and Youtube on blast. To this point, Herman Cain has gotten the exceptional negro "who is a "credit to his race" pass by anti-black, racially resentful Tea Party GOP Conservatives.

But the question remains: At what point will Herman Cain slip up and reveal himself as a Judas goat, too much an "authentic" negro for their liking? Cain danced the dance when he dared to critique Rick Perry's Niggerwood memories and had to eat crow when Limbaugh et al. fried the bird up and forced him to swallow it with moldy molasses and under-cooked hominy grits. He got a pass for that transgression and was able to earn some forgiveness by dancing in the chalk outlined box and promising not to backsass in the future.

But for how long will Herman Cain aka "Cornbread" be able to keep up the routine before his blackness becomes a liability, a trait that is inconvenient and uncomfortable for his white Conservative masters?

Jesse Jackson.

Malcolm X.

Social justice.

In all, CNN's "The Liberal Church of Herman Cain" connects him to the great rogues gallery of black liberalism and anti-white sentiment that stands boot on the throat of White America, oppressing them at every moment...gleeful at the sound of white surrender and victimhood.

How long my friends until Fox News and the Right-wing blogosphere jumps all over this interesting tidbit of information?
Cain accepted the offer and brought a group of worshippers along with him to support Robinson’s small church, the pastor says.
Cain’s views on race aren’t simplistic, Robinson says. Cain says he doesn’t think racism is a huge obstacle for blacks, but Robinson says Cain has privately told him it’s a problem and once even complained about “the good ol’ boy” network in Georgia Republican politics.
“He knows there’s racism in the tea party, but he’ll never say that because they are his supporters. That bothers a lot of people, but he plays to that base not because he’s a sellout but because he’s a politician,” Robinson says.
Fate is a trickster. Fate also has a sense of humor. Will she be laughing soon?


Throckmorton Treebeeizle said...

You're writing something on Boardwalk Empire? Can't wait.

As far as Cain's church goes, I think two things will happen: part of his white base will flee him because he's "just like the rest," while the other part will deny the story, claiming that it's an invention of the "liberal media." I don't know which will part will be the larger one though.

Oh Crap said...

I've been waiting for this, as well, and saying the exact same thing.

I've also noticed he disavows being known as "Rev." That's interesting, but it's no way to get 1/3 of the Black Vote(tm), Herb!

One need not even go to the specifics of Antioch Baptist being "liberal", one need only look at the denomination of his ordination, the National Baptist Convention, USA (NBCUSA). They were the first Baptists to break off from the whites due to their segregation policies, and also happens to be, iirc the numbers correctly, the largest Black denomination in the country.,_USA,_Inc.

CD - maybe you remember, should have asked you earlier because I've been searching for it for a couple weeks now. Do you remember some white cons who made the news when they got cranky at the idea of Black Baptist denominations? It would have been around the beginning of the year. Not related to Cain, but it would come in handy right now.

That, the Morehouse/black separatist racist malcolm x shabazz HBCU Man bit, the walking back EVERYTHING he says, and he's publicly mouthed some mealymouthed support for the queers. His 2004 opponent for GA Sen was (apparently) able to bait him on being pro-affirmative action...nobody is fooled except stupid white race-hysterical conservatives, desperate to trot out a national version of their black best friend.

The entire re-branding is a total joke. Every so often, I get the sense from Ann Coulter that she's just a big put-on, with all the outrageous crud she says. But she's been an inoculator that prepped the US for the extremism for the tea party. HC is playing the same court jester role (as did Palin). I know it's wishful thinking about Cain, but he is such a 2nd rate demagogue, one wonders if punking white cons as a mirror of their own henious stupidity is the best he can muster.

Anonymous said...

CD, you said Cain invited supporters to the why do you think it would be a liability to him if it got out? If he denounces his preacher...then maybe that will be a nother story. Afterall, Cain is a politician just like EVERYONE else. I don't understand why people are so put off by his political game as if the current "black leaders" represent the interests of the black people. I'm NOT a Cain supporter or hater but you focus on him a little too much as if he is doing something that no other " leader" is doing.


chaunceydevega said...

@MB. I find him fascinating, thus my following him.

Of course he is dishonest and a flip flopper. But the way that he performs race minstrelsy for Conservatives on a national stage is I dare to say unprecedented in a way. Of course, there is the cultural reference point where race minstrelsy looms large in the (white) public imagination as a motif, way of seeing, and framework for understanding black humanity.

Too see it done as a presidential strategy is awesome to the degree it is disgusting.

deep.honey said...

Great post!

Can't wait for the SOA post...I'm having some MAJOR issues with that show this season. And having "Strange Fruit" in the background last night was in extremely poor taste. Struggling to hold back my vitriol until you actually post on it. :)

Plane Ideas said...


Ditto!..I was troubled by the entire script and how the script treats all of the people of color..The Sheriff is a great Uncle Tom

Anonymous said...

Can't happen soon enough. Though it he won't go away quietly. He's found it lucrative to bash blacks and as long as he's willing to do it publicly, there will be plenty of people willing to pay him to do so. Yes, they will allow someone to rake him over the coals, then console him and offer him a spokesman position so that his "unique" voice won't be silenced.

Plantsmantx said...

From the NYT:

Of particular concern, some say, is how he seems to make a parody of black vernacular and culture.

“It makes the hair on my neck stand up,” said Ulli K. Ryder, a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. “The larger issue that a lot of people have, and I certainly have, is that he uses a certain kind of minstrelsy to play to white audiences. Referencing negative stereotypes in order to get heard to a white audience in the 21st century is really a problem.”

Plantsmantx said...

I wonder how Cynthia Tucker will respond to that?