“Our blacks are so much better than their blacks. To become a black Republican, you don’t just roll into it. You’re not going with the flow…”
Ann Coulter on the Sean Hannity Show, October 31st, 2011
Some of the more obnoxious celebrity conservatives like Ann Coulter seem to be hell bent on making “Republican” synonymous with “ridiculous” as they pull out all the stops to protect Herman Cain’s candidacy. Many right wing pundits, TV and radio commentators insist unequivocally that there is a high tech lynching of Mr. Cain by the “liberal media” going on, but they are wrong. The members of the lynch mob in this particular scenario are all card carrying Republicans.
“Our blacks are so much better than their blacks.”
“Volcanic” is probably too gentle a word to describe the Mount Vesuvius that raged within me as I tried to process this sentence. I will leave it to someone like Melissa Harris-Lacewell to deconstruct the tone of ownership in Coulter’s voice that jumped right off the screen and smacked me and countless other African Americans dead in the face. To Ann Coulter, and her surrogates, all I will say is this—there is no need to apologize, or walk this statement back, or tell me that I am “taking it out of context”, because I got the message loud and clear the first time. This is just the kind of thing that makes black people yank out their credit cards, pull up www.barackobama.com, and click the “Donate Now” button.
The kind of people who are true believers of the ridiculous stuff people like Ann Coulter are prone to spew are the kind of people who turn others off with their fanatical ideological rigidity. What the Republicans really need right now, though, if they are going to have a real chance of winning the White House in 2012, are the kind of people who can turn people on, not off. The kind of cheerleaders who have the credibility needed to push for a more inclusive party. But people like Coulter and her ilk are so boxed in by their own rhetoric that they can’t afford to jeopardize the allegiance of the “us versus them” audience they have spent years cultivating.
Coby Dillard, a regular citizen and internet acquaintance of mine whose blog I read from time to time, is the kind of black conservative who you can agree to disagree with. He is the kind of black conservative who can make old left leaning, libertarian flavored independents like me see beyond the boundaries of political affiliation when he proposes workable, make sense ideas. I don’t think he’ll mind me borrowing a quote from an old blog post of his to illustrate the kind of struggle some black conservatives have with the prevailing narrative Republican pundits and commentators like Coulter are eager to promote:
“We’ve got to learn to live with what we’ve done as a party. I’ve never been one to run from the history of the GOP as I’ve learned more about it; that includes the good as well as the bad.
For any Republican to contend that our failure to resonate within the black community solely stems from blacks only being in favor of “big government’ shows, at best, a lack of knowledge of our history…
…and at worst, continues the same disrespect that’s still a raw wound on black voters (and that myself and too many others are working too hard to definitively heal).”
In spite of Ann Coulter’s odious comments, I feel the same way about Herman Cain’s candidacy that I do about a football team that gets behind three touchdowns in the first quarter. Even if the losing team is a conference rival of the Falcons, my home team, I have to pull for their opponent when the score is that bad—otherwise the game is no longer interesting.
Mr. Cain, while your fellow Republicans are on TV hemming, hawing, twitching and resorting to doublespeak in order to accept and reject you in the same breath during all the political gabfest shows this week, I will start cheering for you whole heartedly. I’ll even cheer for you despite the possibility that you may even consider Ann Coulter to be your friend—not for your political policies, or any reverence for the position you currently hold in the GOP presidential polls, but because I hate to see black men of any political stripe get humiliated day after day on national TV.