by Andy Weddington
Wednesday, 09 November 2011
"One of the worst things about racism is what it does to young people." Alvin Ailey
Growing up in the south in the 60s and 70s I saw things that disturbed me. Things I know my parents wished I'd not seen, and they did their best to teach me they were wrong. The images stuck with me. But my parent's lessons overpowered them.
What things? The two most prominent, 1) A giant, windowless exterior wall on the side of a building on "Main Street" in a small eastern North Carolina town painted with the greeting, "Welcome to (I'll not embarrass the town) - Home of the KKK"; 2) In another small community, klansman gathered in a rural field and burning crosses - not so far from where kin lived who'd have nothing to do with it and did their best to shield young eyes, and teach to the contrary.
Our small parochial grade school was integrated. Ernestine White, Johnny Davis, Harold Cobb, and Dwayne Wilson, all black, were classmates and classmates of my brothers. They were friends. Mrs. Byrd, my grade school science teacher, was black. She was a fine teacher. Johnny Davis's father, Ed, was our church's Boy Scout troop leader. He was the best of the three I had while in scouting.
In high school, Charles Rankin, Larry Lynch, Tony Satterfield, "HotRod" Clinkscales, and other teammates and friends whose names escape me--black. Same in college. And throughout a career in the Marines. Great people I'm better for having known and served alongside.
Black skin. So what.
For more than a week now GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, a conservative and highly successful business man who happens to be black, has been weathering a determined attack to end his candidancy--allegations of sexual harassment the means. But the lack of substance--not one stained dress, 'un-smokeable' cigar, love child, questionable money transaction, nor police report--has been trotted out to substantiate allegations. Yet that's not prevented the media from continuing their assault nor deterred sleezy lawyers from digging up more women who might have been, particularly after being questioned and coached, peeved by something Mr. Cain did or did not do long ago.
News outlets, looking for the slightest fracture to turn into a mortal gash, have said Mr. Cain keeps changing his story. The fact is his only "change of story" has been to clarify use of the words "settlement" and "agreement" which have specific meanings in the business world. He's not offered to redefine "is."
A decade and a half later and a handful of women, most anonymously, are suddenly emerging with what, by any standard of reason, sound like ridiculous charges. Charges that certainly sound absurd in contrast to the public image Mr. Cain has cultivated these past six months. And contrary to what longtime friends and business associates have to say about Mr. Cain.
Who's behind this nonsense? And why are they doing it? In his well-presented statement and question and answer session of absolute denial yesterday afternoon, Mr. Cain made reference to the democratic party machine. Though he could offer no proof. His frustration understandable. Who knows. And the reason? He's a conservative black and proving to be a serious threat. That's undeniable.
Sexual harassment? What is it? Can the most innocent of behaviors--facial expression, hand gesture, or comment--be twisted into inappropriate conduct? You bet. Can women sexually harass? You bet. Mr. Cain claims having done nothing to offend anyone. Ever. And he volunteered to undergo polygraph. Bravo, but that's not likely to resolve anything. Considering all that's happened so far why let fact get in the way? How much more insistent can one be? He said he had no idea who this latest woman was--no recollection as to face, name, or voice.
Quite the 15 year-old memory of the woman whose unflattering past raises serious questions about credibility.
So what's really going on?
What is it everyone is tip-toeing around?
The absence of anything to corroborate the allegations against Mr. Cain are telling. And disturbing. For the rational person, applying logic, can't help but believe this assault against him is merely making convenient use of the popular politically correct "sexual assault" cry. Might it really be only a smokescreen to camouflage the real angle of attack--the politically incorrect and intolerable reality of racism?
Mr. Cain has used the term "high tech lynching" to describe what's happening to him. I think he's wrong. He's completely wrong. This isn't a high tech lynching at all--it's a good old-fashioned lynching. But instead of wearing hoods and swinging a rope configured into a noose, the hangmen are using a transparent coat of face powder, rouge, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and lipstick--literally and figuratively. Turning the tables, prove otherwise.
Given, politics is a dirty, stinky, and bloody sport void of true sportsmanship. But the attack on Mr. Cain is unconscionable. Every American, regardless of political persuasion, should be disgusted. Remember, in America, guilt must be proven.
Mr. Cain merits the presumption of innocence. He's entitled to it. How shameful he's not able to enjoy it.
He's standing on a solid platform he believes, and so do millions across the country, will return America to greatness. That's why folks are listening and he's still topping polls. Enemies are trying to slip a noose around his neck. But not yet. He's not dead yet. And if he does go down it's going to be swinging--with fists flying not by his neck.
I like Cain. He's a plainspeaking, direct, brutally honest fighter. My kind of guy.
Thanks, Mom and Dad. I was paying attention, still am, and am not going to stand by and spectate--young people, and many in our family, are watching. I hope they are reading. And thinking.