I read Juana Summers’s article this morning about Herman Cain’s comments on the Muslim community and that community’s rightful response.
The article sent me on a quest to find out more about Herman Cain. Specifically, I wanted to find out why a well- educated black man from the south would come off as racially and religiously intolerant.
Herman Cain, another GOP potential nominee for president in 2012, came out strong over the weekend in Iowa, stomping on the usual GOP, right-wing political talking points. Two interesting points he made that in my humble opinion don’t match up with his background.
Public education. Cain attended a gathering, along with Michelle Bachman and Ron Paul and others, attended primarily by those who home school their children. There, Cain joined in the attack on public education. The collective attack proposes to do away with “government intervention” into public education, focusing on home schooling and putting Christianity — not all religions, mind you — back into the curriculum like the “old days.”
Religious intolerance. Cain publicly stated that if he were president, he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet because Muslims are trying to impose their faith and sharia law on Americans.
On both counts Mr. Cain – Wow!
Naturally, I decided to do some research into Mr. Cain’s background to at least note how he may have possible come to such conclusions on the cornerstone of democracy and freedom — public education, racial equality and religious freedom (by now, Thomas Jefferson, Horace Mann, Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and others are rolling over in their graves).
Cain grew up in the south from humble beginnings and more than likely attended Georgia’s public schools in his primary and secondary years. He’s noted for speaking about his parents who instilled in him a strong work ethic and solid values. He attended Morehouse College (mathematics degree) and Creighton University, where he achieved a degree in computer science. Clearly, Cain did well in his education endeavors.
As a black man in the growing up in the south, Cain must know that if the government didn’t intervene in the south’s public schools, Cain would not have had access to a quality education. Having attended Morehouse, there’s no way he could have missed that point. Granted, our education system needs to change but dumping it is not the answer.
Moreover, Cain’s higher education is from two universities that foster diversity and tolerance for all people and their beliefs. I have personally heard the Dean Lawrence Carter, Chaplin at Morehouse, speak about religious and racial intolerance sharing his own experience during his formative years. Interestingly, Dean Carter heads up Morehouse’s exhibit,
“The Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace” was created with the hope that by examining the lives of these great figures, viewers will find these lofty ideals and principles within the grasp of their own daily existence. For it is within the mundane realm of daily living that Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Daisaku Ikeda have sought to forge an existence filled with dignity, freedom and happiness for all people.
It’s important to note here that this exhibit celebrates the lives of three people from quite different religious backgrounds: a Hindu (Gandhi), a Christian (King), and a Buddhist (Ikeda). The GKI exhibit also has an award given each year:
The Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Prize | Peace is often characterized as a state of tranquility– a utopia free from conflict. The lives of Gandhi, King and Ikeda clearly demonstrate that rather than quiet stillness, peace is a product of vital and energetic life-activity altruistically aimed at “the good of all” – the community. Their endeavors further reveal that lasting results are born only when social movements are carried out by individuals who are embodying an internal, spiritual reformation. … The Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders prize symbolizes the tradition these giants of humanity share and, it is hoped, will inspire and empower every person to take responsibility for the improvement of the human condition.
Last year, the GKI Community Builders Prize was awarded to Han S. Park of the University of Georgia (UGA) in Cain’s hometown. UGA stated in its press release that “Internationally renowned UGA scholar Han S. Park was honored with the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Prize at a special ceremony today at Morehouse College. … Park … received the award for his commitment to finding peaceful solutions to challenges arising from the Korean peninsula.”
I don’t know much about Creighton University other than what is on their website,
Creighton is a Jesuit university, rooted in the Catholic tradition. At Creighton we live this mission and are guided by our identity. Because we are Catholic, we approach education with a passion for learning and a zeal for making a difference in our world. In the Catholic intellectual tradition, we celebrate our diversity, we learn through dialogue, and we pursue the truth in all its forms. As a Jesuit university we are continually bringing the richness of a 450 year old educational tradition to bear on the most contemporary issues of our world. Our Jesuit vision commits us to form women and men of competence, conscience and compassion who have learned from reflecting upon their experiences of being for and with others. We do this in service of a faith that does justice.” [....]
I my endeavors of bringing change to public education, I have had the privilege of working with several Jesuit Brothers. Their quest for building solid communities, for education, for diversity and freedom of the oppressed is exemplary. They have never asked me what my religion is. I have never known any of the Brothers to be intolerant on any level, religious, racial or otherwise.
My question is how did Cain, who obviously hails from a background of strong values and work ethic instilled by his parents, followed up with attending two incredible schools committed to diversity, peace, culture and education, arrive at such a lack of religious and racial intolerance? Instead of being “remarkable,” Cain’s comments have left me with the conclusion that he is just another member of the GOP Party’s base that spews fear, hate and bigotry. What a waste.