Timothy Noah

Cain The Victim

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[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner]

Alec Macgillis has already weighed in on some parallels between the allegations against Herman Cain and those made twenty years ago against Clarence Thomas. From the moment I read the Politico report last night, I knew the rightwing would go apoplectic and attribute the story to a liberal media that despises non-white conservatives. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you see, racism does not exist in America. But in those rare moments when black conservatives get accused of wrongdoing, racism does not just exist--rather, it is part of an overarching, conspiratorial, elite-driven plan to keep minorities voting Democratic.

When Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassing Anita Hill, he famously commented as follows:

This is a circus. It's a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you.

Aside from not knowing the meaning of the word "deign", Thomas's point was clear enough. Cain had already said earlier this year, "They're going to come after me more viciously than they would a white candidate. You're right.  Clarence Thomas.  And so, to use Clarence Thomas as an example, I'm ready for the same high-tech lynching that he went through -- for the good of this country. I'm ready for the same high-tech lynching."

And here is Laura Ingraham today:

“Doesn’t all this sound familiar?” she said on her radio show. “A black man who thinks for himself, who ends up surprising everyone, including the establishment, who ends up a point ahead of the guy who has raised millions and millions and millions of dollars, and has been running for president for the last five, six years. This upstart guy ends up a point ahead of Romney in Iowa…He needs to be put in his place, a lot of people think. Time to put this man in, hate to say it, the back of the bus.”

Ann Coulter:

"This is a high-tech lynching. He is a strong, conservative black man … They are terrified of strong, conservative black men. "

Rush Limbaugh:

“This story appears to me to be a close relative of the hit job The Washington Post is doing on Marco Rubio. And it’s not news. It’s not a news story. This is gutter partisan politics and it’s the politics of partisan minority personal destruction, is what you’ve got here. Rubio and Cain, unfit to lead: Don’t you see? ‘We cannot have a black Republican running for the office of president. We can’t have one elected. We can’t have a Hispanic.’ The left owns those two groups. And those two groups are forever going to be minorities. Those groups cannot ever be seen to be self-sufficient or rising above on their own.”

The Daily Caller story about Limbaugh says the radio host felt there was a media double-standard at work because the media ignored Bill Clinton's sex scandals, which makes one wonder where Rush Limbaugh has been the past two decades. Regardless, it is amusing that the rightwing sees Politico as part of the liberal media, and even more amusing that conservatives think anyone (anyone) is scared of Herman Cain. Wasn't the most recent meme that no one saw him as anything other than a total joke, despite his lofty poll numbers?

Again, the most depressing part of this story is that it takes allegations against one of their own to get any top conservative to acknowledge, let alone discuss, racism against non-whites.

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