Herman Cain Apologizes To Muslim Leaders After Meeting

Over the past several months, I’ve been pretty hard on Herman Cain for the comments he’s made about Muslims — including the comment that he wouldn’t hire a Muslim to work in his Administration, that he’d require them to take loyalty oaths if he did, and that he believed local communities should have the authority to bar the construction of mosques — so, it’s heartening to see that he’s apparently rethought his previous comments:

Herman Cain hosted a quiet meeting with a small group of Muslim leaders on Wednesday in an effort to rebuild relations frayed by his comments about not wanting to appoint Muslims to government posts and blocking the construction of mosques.

Cain’s campaign announced plans to convene the outreach meeting this week, but refused to provide details even after the meeting, which was held at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Va.

ADAMS Center board member Robert Marro told POLITICO that the presidential hopeful met with a handful of Muslim leaders then toured the facility, which serves 6,000 families at eight branches in Northern Virginia and Washington.

Cain’s been under fire for his comments, but Marro said he believed they’d been able to open his eyes to the idea that he’s been “getting information from people that maybe had some other agendas in mind.”

They discussed the supposed danger of the incursion of Sharia law, which have been referenced by many candidates campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, as well as the contributions of Muslims to American society, Marro said.

“I think he left the meeting with an entirely different view of what Muslims are and what mosques do,” Marro said. “If he was expecting to see secret nooks and crannies where people are plotting nefarious things, he would have been highly surprised to find there is nothing like that in ours — or other mosques across the country.”

Marro said he believed that they had achieved a complete turnaround in Cain’s positions.

“I would be flabbergasted if he ever repeated those statements and said that communities should be allowed to ban mosques,” He said. “I think that the meeting today has changed his mind 100 percent. From the tenor of the conversation, I can’t see him repeating such things.

Cain’s campaign released the following statement after the meeting:

I would like to thank Imam Mohamed Magid and the ADAMS Center for extending their hospitality to me this afternoon. We enjoyed heartfelt fellowship and thoughtful dialogue about how patriotic Americans of all faiths can work together to restore the American Dream.

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. Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully.

As I expected, we discovered we have much more in common in our values and virtues. In my own life as a black youth growing up in the segregated South, I understand their frustration with stereotypes. Those in attendance, like most Muslim Americans, are peaceful Muslims and patriotic Americans whose good will is often drowned out by the reprehensible actions of jihadists.

I am encouraged by the bonds of friendship forged today at our meeting, and I look forward to continuing this very healthy dialogue. The relationship we established was so positive that the Imam has invited me back to speak to not only some of their youth, but also at one of their worship services.

I hope that Cain is sincere in his comments, and I’ll take him at his word that he is. If nothing else, this seems to prove something I’ve long believed; that Americans would have different opinions about Muslims if they actually got to know them personally.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Islam, Quick Takes, Religion, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. I hope that Cain is sincere in his comments, and I’ll take him at his word that he is.

    I’m not quite so charitable. He said what he really thinks and this is just damage control when he found out that being an anti-muslim bigot still turns off enough people to be a liability. Going forward, the ADAMS Center is going to be Cain’s “My Muslim Friend” that he brings up right before saying anything anti-muslim.

  2. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: He said what he really thinks and this is just damage control when he found out that being an anti-muslim bigot still turns off enough people to be a liability.

    Stormy, are you in the least bit familiar with Herman Cain? Cain is of a piece with Allen West, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann — not traditional pols, and an absolute abhorrence towards traditional politics. To judge them for not living up to a standard or stereotype they are deliberately rejecting is absolute folly.

    I’m not saying they’re right or wrong here (I think they’re all correct), but you — and a lot of others — keep wanting to pigeonhole them into how you define the traditional paradigm of a typical politician, and finding them wanting when they don’t meet your expectations.

    On the other end, Obama portrayed himself and ran as a similar type of figure, on the left. And it worked for him — ‘cuz let’s face it, a 2/3 term Senator with a nonexistent background in the military or private industry and no serious record of accomplishments outside winning elections should have been laughed off the ballot. And a lot of his challengers tried just that — but he won anyway, both in the primaries and in the general.

    And in that general election, I have to steal a line from some European pundit whose name escapes me, it was “a genuine war hero with a hot, blonde, big-busted wife who owns a beer distributorship, up against a Harvard lawyer married to another Harvard lawyer.”

    The old models are being challenged, and being challenged quite successfully. Fighting to preserve them is not the smartest move, Stormy. Rather, it would be wiser to study and figure out just how these new models work, and how best to use them.

    J.

  3. mantis says:

    Yeah, Stormy. Saying Muslims are all suspected traitors who must prove their allegiance is just the new model! Saying that seeing a Muslim doctor is dangerous because, as a Muslim, he must convert or kill you is the new model! Saying that when a longstanding religious group wants to build a new mosque in their own community it is an infringement of Christians’ religious rights is the new model!

    Get with it man, or you’ll be left behind.

  4. mantis says:

    On the other end, Obama portrayed himself and ran as a similar type of figure, on the left.

    He ran as an unhinged ignorant bigot? I don’t quite remember that.

  5. John Peabody says:

    I’m with Doug. Sure, we should remember Cain’s original statements, but it can’t be denied that he may have really learned something. Nothing wrong with that.

  6. Abdul says:

    Labels are too important to this guy. I am a Southerner and race IS a big issue down here for many reasons. Labels are a big deal. When Jon Stewart made fun of Cain, Cain said Stewart was being a racist. Then Cain turns around and singles out Muslims for attacks. A guy like that has no place as a world leader who is going to have to look past labels and focus on issues.

  7. Kylopod says:

    “I think he left the meeting with an entirely different view of what Muslims are and what mosques do,” Marro said.

    Talk about learning on the job….

    @Jay Tea:

    Cain is of a piece with Allen West, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann — not traditional pols, and an absolute abhorrence towards traditional politics.

    Yeah, “I’m sorry for anyone I may have offended” sure sounds like someone who hates traditional politics, huh?

  8. mantis says:

    Yeah, “I’m sorry for anyone I may have offended” sure sounds like someone who hates traditional politics, huh?

    Jay actually complains about that all the time. But, you know, IOKYAR.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    @Kylopod: Actually, Cain didn’t use that precise phrasing, despite your use of quote marks. His precise words:

    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. Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully.

    A variant of the non-apology that I usually do find weaselly, and I am greatly disappointed in Cain for using it. I’m also slightly dismayed that I missed it.

    J.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    And a lot of his challengers tried just that — but he won anyway, both in the primaries and in the general.

    Well yes, we all realize how much that outcome still bothers you…

    The old models are being challenged, and being challenged quite successfully. Fighting to preserve them is not the smartest move, Stormy. Rather, it would be wiser to study and figure out just how these new models work, and how best to use them.

    What a lovely way to try to excuse a bigot who got caught and had to make nice…

  11. mantis says:

    Cain is of a piece with Allen West, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann — not traditional pols, and an absolute abhorrence towards traditional politics.

    up against a Harvard lawyer married to another Harvard lawyer.”

    I forgot to address this. I find it interesting that Jay includes Bachmann on the list. While Bachmann did go to Ignorance University (Oral Roberts) for her law degree, she attended William and Mary Law, the oldest law school in the country, for her tax law LL.M. degree. She has been politically active since the 1970s, and first ran for office in the 1990s. She was elected as a MN state senator in 2000, and was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2006. This all sounds like traditional politics to me, especially for a Republican, but I guess since she gives Jay a hardon she must be different, somehow.

    One does wonder why a self-described “agnostic” who loves freedom like Jay Tea would take to someone like Bachmann, who has spent most of her political career trying to impose her religious views on others and restrict their freedoms based on those views. But hey, who can blame him for having zero principles?

  12. @Jay Tea:

    Stormy, are you in the least bit familiar with Herman Cain? Cain is of a piece with Allen West, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann — not traditional pols, and an absolute abhorrence towards traditional politics. To judge them for not living up to a standard or stereotype they are deliberately rejecting is absolute folly.

    My problem is that Cain is a bigot to begin with, not that he lacks the political sense to know he ought to shut up about it.

    I will agree with you, however, he is a piece with Allen West, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann; they’re all extremely rude people who seem to take delight in being uncivil purely for the sake of being uncivil. It says a lot about the Tea Party that as a group they seem completely incapable of being nice to other people unless they anticipate some direct personal benefit in doing so.

    Being nice to others, even those you disagree with, isn’t something you have to learn because you’ve been elected to Washington and are suddenly being exposed to people who don’t ape everything you believe for the first time in your life; it should be a normal part of growing up as a decent human being.

  13. @mantis:

    One does wonder why a self-described “agnostic” who loves freedom like Jay Tea would take to someone like Bachmann, who has spent most of her political career trying to impose her religious views on others and restrict their freedoms based on those views. But hey, who can blame him for having zero principles?

    Indeed, or that given how anti-tax the Tea Party supposedly is, that one of their big heros is a woman who’s only non-politician job was as a tax lawyer for the IRS, a job where the main focus was jailing people for not paying more taxes.

  14. Jay Tea says:

    Cain and West sound like they learned something from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer:”

    Giles: Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?
    Cordelia: Tact is just not saying true stuff. I’ll pass.

    West, for example, I find tremendously refreshing. There’s absolutely no mistaking where he stands. And Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is learning that snide digs and innuendos and typical political cheap shots do NOT go unchallenged. Good on him.

    J.

  15. mantis says:

    Oh, and she’s very much against government subsidies going to minority farmers, but she’s happy to collect them herself.

  16. @Jay Tea:

    There’s absolutely no mistaking where he stands.

    And sadly that’s not in the brig at Leavenworth with the underlings Col. Jessup stuck with responsibility for his war crimes.

  17. Jay Tea says:

    Stormy, he accepted full responsibility for his actions, and knew before he acted that he was ending his military career — at the least. He never denied it, never tried to cover it up, and I think he even reported himself.

    J.

  18. mantis says:

    West, for example, I find tremendously refreshing. There’s absolutely no mistaking where he stands.

    Yeah, I found it refreshing when he hired someone for his Chief of Staff who before the 2010 election said, “And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

    But you’ve already shown yourself as someone who approves of violence as a response to lost elections, Jay. I guess we should all be thankful the Republicans did well in 2010 and weren’t forced to start murdering people.

    I also find refreshing the idea that Republicans think that someone who was relieved from duty by the military for torturing an innocent man is fit for office. He’s a straight shooter, that one!

    He has repeatedly shown himself to be pretty psychotic in office (refreshing!), so I can see why you are so fond of him, Jay.

    You people will be the death of us all.

  19. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: You people will be the death of us all.

    I HAVE THE POWER!!!!!! FEAR ME, FROM MY TINY CORNER OF NEW HAMPSHIRE!

    J.

  20. @Jay Tea:

    he accepted full responsibility for his actions

    Uh no, a cushy deal where you get an honorable discharge and early retirement for a crime that should have resulted in a court martial and jail time is not “accepting full responsibility for your actions”.

    and I think he even reported himself.

    Only after a sargeant in another batallion sent a complaint to the IG about the incident.

  21. Jay Tea says:

    Stormy, you seem a bit better versed on the matter than I. What were the other consequences of his actions? The ones immediately after, the ones that directly affected the troops under his command?

    J.

  22. An Interested Party says:

    I just noticed on the Weather Channel that an extremely large amount of hot air is hovering over a tiny corner of New Hampshire…I realize that we are in the season of summer, but really…