You Can Only Be So Black For So Long

By Jesse Taylor
Monday, October 3, 2011 16:08 EDT
google plus icon
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

Herman Cain has risen through the Republican ranks…well, not meteorically, but at least like something that's natural and rises and isn't racially problematic or in any way black. As he's become relevant in the race, there was a moment you knew was going to arrive. A moment where Cain would have to make a fateful decision pitting his identity against his aspirations. A moment where Cain would have to decide if he was a black Republican or a Republican who, incidentally, was of the negro persuasion.

That moment was Niggerhead.  You're likely familiar with the story, but the short version is that Rick Perry owns a ranch formerly named Niggerhead, and was at best lax about changing the name to something that didn't involve a racial slur.  As these things go, this is fairly low hanging fruit on the "that's racist" tree.  In general, [racial slur] plus [head] doesn't result in something that's not racist.  

While on Fox News and This Week, Herman Cain called the name Niggerhead "very insensitive" and "plain insensitive".  Al Sharpton, he is not.  But through the magic power of the race card, he actually pretty much is.  Except Cain is worse, because this is a betrayal of the very never-talking-about-race promise he held.  Instapundit:

I think that Herman Cain hurts himself by joining in on these attacks. His big appeal is that he’s not just another black race-card-playing politician. Climbing on board with the Post’s hit piece suggests that actually, he is.

Redstate's commenters decide to not just attack Cain but, yes, to defend Niggerhead, because we're apparently entering into a white supremacist fantasy novel. From "izoneguy":


As a technical term

“Ni**erhead” was, among others:
* a former British term for a black iron post for mooring ships, made from an old cannon partially buried muzzle upward, with a slightly oversize black cannonball covering the hole

* a former sailors’ term for an isolated coral head, notorious as navigation hazards

* among some American stonemasons, a term for a large smoothly rounded stone

* an antiquated term for a large round rock sticking up from the surface of a logging road, used by loggers and log truck drivers in the Pacific Northwest

* an old U.S. Navy term for a small winch, a Capstan

* a coal miner’s term for blackish iron disulfide nodular rock occurring at the top of the coal seams, often visible in coal mine roofs. Because of their density, they can fall from the roofs, injuring or killing the miners below

* an archaic term for the striking weight on a pile driver

* a term for a steam manifold, fountain, turret or header on a boiler, particularly that of a locomotive


The rock in question at the Perry Hunting Camp was painted and turned over soon after Rick objected to it. That term goes back hundreds of years.
For Cain to pick up on a drive-ny media story and run with it shows the man likes to play fast & loose with the facts. Someone like this cannot be trusted with the Presidency or any position in Federal government. And that is the thanks Rick Perry gets from Herman Cain, the only candidate who was considering him for VP!

You see, racism was actually so prevalent that we entered into a realm of post-racial racism, and to pretend that this racism was actually racial is so racist that fuck it I'm gonna go watch Do The Right Thing.  The common use of a racial slur to describe things that just happen to be the same color as the group of people being slurred is proof that nothing racial was meant at all.  Coal miners didn't play the race card with each other, so why should we?

Herman Cain will, ultimately, end up being the most tragic figure of this election cycle.  He has the burden of being the GOP's Great Black Hope, but failed his first major test.  He's black – dark black, even – and Southern, a little bit folksy and a little bit preachery.  And for months, he's been running without ever mentioning his race or the GOP's problems with minorities.  It was perfect, because not pointing out the problems is the equivalent of admitting they don't exist.  By entering, however tentatively, into the realm of race, Cain's broken the illusion that nothing's wrong.  That illusion, by and large, was the main expectation on him and the primary benefit he brought to this election cycle.

That Cain decided to state the obvious is, honestly, a credit to him.  The smart money was in attacking the Washington Post as a liberal smear rag and then going on to call two-thirds of black people "brainwashed" by Democratic slave masters (which he did anyway). By opening his mouth and speaking the truth, Cain likely destroyed any chance he had of winning the GOP nomination. But for a brief moment, someone in the Republican Party stopped lying about race. That's the boldest thing anyone has done in this field of candidates by far.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.