Herman Cain is popular among certain small groups within the GOP. But some of his views are not only wrong; they are pernicious. Three months ago, for example, Cain said he wouldn’t be comfortable appointing a Muslim either to his cabinet or as a federal judge. He then “clarified” his comments by saying, according to this news report, that he might be willing to name a Muslim who disavows Sharia law — and then added he’s unaware of any Muslim who’d be willing to make such a disavowal. Now Cain, in an interview with Glenn Beck, says he wants to impose a “loyalty proof” on Muslims but not on Catholics or Mormons or any other religious group.It’s worth recalling that a half-century ago, John F. Kennedy’s Catholic faith was a source of concern, with some people believing that if he was president he would be loyal to the Pope rather than the Constitution. In response, Kennedy gave an address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, where he spoke about not what kind of church he believed in but what kind of America he believed in. Kennedy issued this warning:
For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been — and may someday be again — a Jew, or a Quaker, or a Unitarian, or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that led to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today, I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.
No one is asking anyone to look the other way when it comes to combating terrorism on our shores. The radicalization of young Muslim men is a real threat, one even Attorney General Eric Holder perceives, and lawful, responsible steps need to be taken to prevent attacks on our fellow citizens. But for a presidential candidate to be making such sweeping and indiscriminate attacks on American Muslims, insisting that they can’t be judges or belong to the cabinet and should bear the burden of proof as to their loyalty to their country, is dangerous and ugly. And it needs to stop.
I hope that in forthcoming presidential debates other GOP candidates are asked about Mr. Cain’s idea, and I hope they condemn it in the strongest possible terms.