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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

In the wake of Herman Cain’s sexual harassment scandal, conservative pundits have conveniently cast themselves as anti-racists. Leonard Pitts Jr. writes in his new column, “‘Our’ Blacks Vs. ‘Their’ Blacks”:

Do you think it gives Clarence Thomas a warm, fuzzy feeling to know he is one of Ann Coulter’s blacks?

That is how Coulter put it on Fox “News” while defending Herman Cain against sexual harassment charges that threatened to engulf his campaign last week. “Liberals,” she said, detest black conservatives, but the truth is, “our blacks are so much better than their blacks.”

“Our” blacks? Really?

Social conservative pundits tend to be astonishingly obtuse when discussing race, (See Exhibit A, above) so it is good they rarely do so. Last week was an unfortunate exception, as one of “their” blacks struggled to frame a coherent response to allegations that he harassed female colleagues in the 1990s when he headed the National Restaurant Association. Though accusations of sexual impropriety have beset a bipartisan Who’s Who of black and white politicians, the right wing came out in force to argue that people are only questioning Cain because he is a black conservative.

This would be the same Cain who not so long ago said racism was no longer a significant obstacle for African-Americans. This would be the same right wing that is conspicuous by its silence, its hostility or its complicity when the injustice system imposes mass incarceration on young black men, when the number of hate groups in this country spikes to more than a thousand, when the black unemployment rate stands at twice the national average, when the president is called “uppity” and “boy.”

But they scream in pious racial indignation when Cain is asked questions he doesn’t want to answer.

"Performative patriotism" is a fancy way of describing what my father — a veteran of World War II who rarely spoke about his service — called "jelly-bellied flag flappers." Dad always laughed at those phonies, but we now suffer a president who is exactly that type, only worse. And Donald Trump's flag-flapping fakery is no joke.

A performative patriot is someone who, like Trump, oversells his supposed love of country, his reverence for the Stars and Stripes and, especially, his indignation at those whom he suspects of lacking his deep fervor. Such a figure will, like Trump, attempt to market these counterfeit emotions for his own benefit. And like Trump, that loud jingo is someone whose character will lead to a betrayal of American values.

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