I find legendary entertainer Harry Belefonte’s name-calling of front-running Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain very curious, questionable and definitely counterproductive.
In his latest in ad hominem attacks on the star of he GOP nomination race with sometimes unintelligible rants, Belefonte called Herman Cain a “false Negro” and a “bad apple.” While he may or may not be wrong in his assessment, to simply demean and disparage Cain in such an infantile way can only backfire. Unwarranted attacks only serves to martyr Cain and make him more sympathetic to his extreme right-wing leaning supporters who have vaulted the former Godfather CEO to the front of the pack of the presidential race.
Belefonte, a versatile entertainer who’s been on earth for a long time should know better than to behave like this on national TV.
“It’s very hard to comment on somebody who is so denied intelligence, and certainly someone who is as denied a view of history,” Belafonte said. “Because he happened to have had good fortune hit him, because he happened to have had a moment, when he broke through the moment someone blinked, does not make him the authority on the plight of people of color.”
I beg to differ. Cain is not viewed as an authority “on the plight of people of color” because he has not garnered the support nor respect of many African Americans thus far. Cain has also not made any legitimate attempts to recruit blacks and other minorities into the nearly homogenous Republican tent. Additionally, both Tom Joyner and CNN contributor Roland Martin just commented on the fact that he has denied.
Belefonte, however, articulates some of the reservations that other blacks have of Cain:
“The Republican Party, the tea party, all of those forces to the extreme right have consistently tried to come up with representation for what they call black, what they call the real Negroes and try to push these images as the kinds of voices that America should be [looking] to. So we’ve got Condoleezza Rice, we’ve got Colin Powell, they are heroes for some people but for a lot of us they are not. And Herman Cain is just the latest incarnation of what is totally false to the needs of our community and the needs of our nation. I think he’s a bad apple and people should look at his whole card, he’s not what he says he is.”
This type of broadbrushing may make Belefonte and his sympathizers feel better in the interim, but it does little good for the long-term benefit of himself or the black community. Racist whites, members of the tea party and Cain’s billionaire benefactors all see this type of attack and emboldens their support of Cain. Nowhere in Belefonte’s diatribe against Cain did he systematically dissect Cain’s presidential platform or discuss why his 9-9-9 tax plan cannot work, which would diffuse some of Cain’s steam and open him to increased scrutiny.
Belefonte and others need to replace these barely-decipherable streams of invectives with more innovative ways to discredit Cain’s platform. Sixties’ style rants will not work in the new millennium.