Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Nov/11

22

Herman Cain’s sin: stupidity, not bigotry

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I get tired of Left-liberals who yammer on about “bigotry” because people are concerned that candidate X is Mormon/Muslim/etc. A person’s whole background matters, and when you are judging someone politically you are engaging in an act of discrimination based on your values. Some conservatives play the “religious bigotry” game too, but they’re being self-interested hypocrites, as I suspect most conservatives don’t have an issue with individual discrimination based on religious orientation as such (e.g., last I checked conservatives were overrepresented among the set of Americans who wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president).

The differences on this issue have cropped up in the Herman Cain Arab-doctor-chemotherapy story. Some people bring this up as evidence of Cain’s overall bizarre stupidity. But others see it as more evidence of his anti-Muslim bias. The reality is that I think anti-Muslim bias as a general matter isn’t necessarily bad. Just like anti-atheist or anti-Evangelical bias isn’t necessarily bad. I wouldn’t want my daughter marrying an Evangelical or a Muslim. And so on. But if I had cancer I really wouldn’t care if my doctor was a Muslim, Evangelical, or pagan worshiper of the three-horned-god! What I’d care about is whether my doctor knew their medicine! Yes, I know Herman Cain is joking…but there’s way too much evidence that this guy is just a plain joker. People do, and should, take all aspects of background into account when judging he character others. But they need to do this rationally and effectively. At least if they want to be president of the United States of America.

Addendum: I apologize to Sarah Palin for thinking she was ignorant or dull. The curve just got re-centered.

13 comments

  • gimpyblog · November 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    The reality is that I think anti-Muslim bias as a general matter isn’t necessarily bad. Just like anti-atheist or anti-Evangelical bias isn’t necessarily bad. I wouldn’t want my daughter marrying an Evangelical or a Muslim.

    Evangelicals are a Christian sect, Muslims are not a sect. Individual sects within Islam vary in their beliefs and tolerances, just as individual sects do in Christianity.
    Anti-Muslim bias is therefore discriminating against an entirety of a religious group encompassing a vast range of behaviours, whereas anti-Evangelical bias is discriminating against a particular defined set of behaviours. This can be quite reasonably be referred to as anti-Muslim bias as it treats the range of belief seen in Islam as different from that seen in Christianity.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    wow. what a retarded comment! though interesting in an anthropological sense.

  • gimpyblog · November 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    So I can improve myself, would you mind explaining your disagreement with my comment?

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    american muslims and evangelicals overlap a great deal most religious issues:

    http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2008/06/comparing-across-american-religions.php

    the vast majority of the world’s muslims are more conservative than american evangelicals:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/02/culture-differences-matter-even-within-islam/

  • Clark · November 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Also isn’t “sect” a bit more organized than the broad Evangelical movement? (Which includes baptists, methodists, and a whole slew of “non-denominational” groups)

    I can’t quite figure out Cain. He’s obviously smart. Even if you aren’t a particularly good mathematician the mere fact you can get a degree in that tends to say you are well above most people in smarts. Further he’s gone on and been remarkably successful in business. Yet he also has these huge swaths of ignorance. And he’s not just ignorant. He seems proudly ignorant.

    It’s as if he knows he’s smart in some areas and has the hubris to believe that means either he can master any new area and that if he doesn’t it must not be important. I suspect that accounts for not only his inexplicable dismissals of foreign policy (arguably the place we ought worry the most about a President) but also some anti-Islamic statements that I think pretty well are bigoted (and I think that gets thrown around a bit too loosely).

    Like you I don’t mind people voting their values. I can completely understand why some Evangelicals and even secular liberals might not want to ever vote for a Mormon. I might think it a bit ignorant, but I can understand why someone might do that rationally and justifiably. However I’m not sure Cain’s comments rise to that level in that I think there’s a kind of informed ignorance we might understand for a particular person. But then there’s the kind of ignorance where we recognize someone really ought know better even given their background.

  • Cyg · November 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Razib Khan? That sounds foreign–not that I have anything against foreign bloggers–but this sounds too foreign.

    What? He was raised in New York and Oregon? How do I know he isn’t a sleeper-cell blogger?

    He’s an atheist? And a scientist? Heck, that ain’t no conservative!

    Kidding aside, I am no fan of anyone whose pre-packaged world views dictate their actions without regard to reason, so I understand Razib’s general bias against Muslims and Evangelicals.

    But, as Gimpy rightly (not retardedly) observes, this position lacks nuance. Fareed Zakaria and Keith Ellison cannot be lumped in the same category as Nidal Hassan or Richard Reid. Should I discount the sacrifice of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan or the policy pronouncements of Robert D. Crane just because they are Muslim? For someone whom I’m guessing is regularly forced to explain that he isn’t a Muslim, Razib doesn’t seem like the guy who ought to be promoting “a general bias” against Muslims.

    Turns out I’m probably going to vote for a guy who believes Jesus is Satan’s brother, that Yahweh lives near the planet Kolob, that you can baptize dead people, that it was impossible for black people to go to heaven before 1978, etc., just because he is closer to the center of the political spectrum than Obama. Heck, everybody running believes in virgin births, walking cadavers, talking snakes, etc. What am I gonna do? Sit home and not vote?

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    But, as Gimpy rightly (not retardedly) observes, this position lacks nuance.

    i have a lot of nuance. i know a lot more about islam than you do, and more than 99.9% of people (personal experience and a shit load of book learnin’). so you should shut up and listen. and don’t stuff positions and strawmen into my mouth. i don’t take kindly to being the launching pad for a series of misconstructions of my own position (i’m voting for romney asshole; well, if he gets nominated). and no, i’m not regularly forced to explain that i’m not muslim. who exactly do you spend your time around that you’d have that expectation? (in fact, i’m more often forced to explain that i’m not hindu, though that’s not that common. probably an every 6 month occurrence)

    your comment wasn’t even anthropologically interesting. asshole.

  • CJColucci · November 22, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Those of us who adhere to no religion must generally choose from among candidates who are, at least nominally, of some religion or other. I would have real trouble with a candidate who held to extreme views relevant to issues that the candidate would have to deal with as a public official based on any religious system. I don’t think, however, that most nominal adherents of most reasonably widespread religions hold such extreme views. So while Islam, Mormonism, or Presbyterianism all strike me as, at best, mistaken, I have no issue with the common run of Muslims, Mormons, or Presbyterians. It does seem to me that people who object to Muslims, Mormons, or Presbyterians as such, without regard to their detailed views, are usefully described as bigots, even if it would be completely rational to object to jihadists, etc.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 23, 2011 at 1:17 am

    It does seem to me that people who object to Muslims, Mormons, or Presbyterians as such, without regard to their detailed views, are usefully described as bigots

    we’re defining “bigotry” down….

  • CJColucci · November 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    we’re defining “bigotry” down….

    Maybe. But can you suggest a more useful shorthand phrase for someone who objects to a Presbyterian simply because he is a Presbyterianism, without any knowledge of whether the particular Presbyterian holds to some Presbyterian-influenced values or is likely to engage in some Presbyterian-induced behavior that the objector, given his own values, would rationally object to?

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    more useful shorthand phrase

    you said it. irrational. it isn’t like voters aren’t irrational. they vote for tall and better-looking-than-average candidates. are they bigots or just naturally biased?

  • j mct · November 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I think if Cain actually wins, he’ll have a sane reaction to the prospect of actually being president. He’ll demand a recount! I think he’s a much better ‘not Romney’ guy than Gingrich, since I’m not at all sure that Gingrich will demand a recount if he wins, but hopefully he will.

    Since Perry flamed out, it looks like it’s the Rockefeller Republican, Romney, and there doesn’t seem to be a Goldwater Republican. I’d just like to take a fmri of Romney’s brain when he’s watching this videao though. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEuiI2PbSWQ.

  • Narr · November 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Cyg asks if he should just sit home and not vote, to which I answer, why not? It’s not as if a single person’s vote has any weight, and one can always tell people that one voted for whoever the winner turns out to be . . .

    I’ve sat out many a vote, but never taken that second step.

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