Herman Cain has a message: He's sorry. The Republican presidential candidate has made a name for himself as one of this year's most incendiary political voices by lashing out against Islam, leading Muslim-American Rep. Keith Ellison to call the former CEO a "religious bigot." This week, after meeting with a group of Muslims in Northern Virginia, Cain sent a statement to Talking Points Memo in which he stood by his fears of sharia law corrupting the U.S. legal system, but is sorry if his words hurt people's feelings:
While I stand by my opposition to the interference of shariah law into the American legal system, I remain humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends. I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it.
Cain likened the experiences of some Muslims to his own growing up in the rural South. "In my own life as a black youth growing up in the segregated South, I understand their frustration with stereotypes," Cain told TPM. "Those in attendance, like most Muslim Americans, are peaceful Muslims and patriotic Americans whose good will is often drowned out by the reprehensible actions jihadists."
Whether or not Cain's statement reads as sincere, the broader point may be that his sentiments don't only exist on the political fringe. TPM also reported this month that the FBI recommended anti-Muslim books to train new recruits in dealing with Muslim communities.
Some of the books included on a "Recommended Reading" slide are The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and The Truth About Muhammad by anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer, who was cited 64 times by Norwegian bombing suspect Breivik in the manifesto. For progressives and communities of color, it may seem all to easy to wag a finger at Cain's cheap rhetoric. But the problem is far larger than one long-shot presidential candidate.