(cross-posted from ThinkProgress)
By Scott Keyes on Jun 8, 2011 at 6:41 pm
In March, formers Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain burst onto the presidential scene when he told ThinkProgress that he “will not” appoint Muslims in his administration.
Under intense pressure, Cain’s campaign walked back the candidate’s words, saying that he would appoint “any person for a position based on merit.” However, the next week, Cain hedged his retraction, telling the Orlando Sun Sentinel that he would only appoint a Muslim who disavowed Sharia law, but that “he’s unaware of any Muslim who’d be willing to make such a disavowal.”
On the Glenn Beck Show today, the host asked the Georgia Republican about his refusal to appoint Muslims. Cain told Beck that he would be willing to appoint a Muslim only “if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first.” Beck followed up by asking if he was calling for “some loyalty proof” for Muslims. Cain said, “Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.” When Beck then asked “Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?” Cain told the host, “Nope, I wouldn’t.”:
BECK: You said you would not appoint a Muslim to anybody in your administration.
CAIN: The exact language was when I was asked, “would you be comfortable with a Muslim in your cabinet?” And I said, “no, I would not be comfortable.” I didn’t say I wouldn’t appoint one because if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first then they would be a candidate just like everybody else. My entire career, I’ve hired good people, great people, regardless of their religious orientation.
BECK: So wait a minute. Are you saying that Muslims have to prove their, that there has to be some loyalty proof?
CAIN: Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.
BECK: Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?
CAIN: Nope, I wouldn’t. Because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions. I know that there are some Muslims who talk about, “but we are a peaceful religion.” And I’m sure that there are some peace-loving Muslims.
Cain’s call for a loyalty oath targeted at a specific segment of the population is a historical relic that ought to be confined to the past. Forcing a subset of Americans to prove their loyalty to the United States was as wrong during the era of McCarthyism as it is today.
Cain’s requirement that Muslim nominees take a loyalty oath while Catholics and Mormons would be exempted is not only bigoted, it’s also ironic considering that the same suspicion was once levied at Catholics. During the 1960 presidential election, anti-Catholic sentiment held that if then-Sen. John F. Kennedy were elected president, his Catholic faith would make him beholden to the Pope rather than the United States. Such views were abhorrent when directed at Catholics 50 years ago, and they are abhorrent when directed at Muslims today.
Three months ago, ThinkProgress wrote, “As the Republican presidential nomination process begins, one GOP candidate is making a name for himself as the Islamophobia candidate: Herman Cain.” Unfortunately, we are seeing just how true that prediction was.