The Washington Post published a story suggesting that Governor Perry took little issue with an offensive slur etched into a stone near the entrance of his hunting camp. The now infamous “Niggerhead” has been painted over but the story has raised eyebrows including those of black conservative and GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. Cain himself is barely over his own racially tinged comment made last week, when he said blacks were “brainwashed” for their loyalty to Democrats. On Fox News Sunday Cain essentially backed that remark with an anecdote about his 999 plan but added he could get 30% of the black vote. When it came to the Rick Perry controversy he said:
My reaction is that’s just very insensitive…That is a more vile negative word than the N word, and for him to leave it there for as long as he did before I hear that they finally painted over it is just plain insensitive towards a lot of black people in this country.
Herman Cain on Fox News Sunday
The Washington Post story harps on Perry’s very white surroundings growing up in a small Texas town south of Wichita Falls. It noted throughout the 80s and 90s Perry used this as his own Crawford Ranch getaway and often invited other politicos. He claims to have demanded it be painted over when he first saw it. Gov. Perry responded to Herman Cain and the Washington Post through his communications director, “Mr. Cain is wrong about the Perry family’s quick action to eliminate the word on the rock, but is right the word written by others long ago is insensitive and offensive,”
This Niggerhead phenomenon apparently was so popular in naming geographical objects at one time (including official state names) that a major effort had to be undertaken to change them. The problem is the effort only applied to public property, so private property like “Niggerhead Ranch” were exempt. I caution @TheHermanCain from playing the race card here because the base he is trying to win over is pretty sensitive to this sort of thing.
I don’t think this is a big game changer for the GOP nomination but I do expect it to be plastered all over the headlines and get heavy rotation on the 24 hour cable news cycle this week. It reminds me of a local dispute in Beaumont over “Jap Road“. Both sides got heated and defensive but eventually the name was changed and everyone moved on. This is basically an opportunity for the left to drool and the right to fend off more accusations of racial prejudices. I predict it will be a non-issue by the next debate because it really helps no one in this race establish front-runner status. I’ll add for good measure that racial issues will continue to plague the 2012 GOP nomination because of its unique dynamics. Its important to note also that since LBJ signed the ’64 voting rights act blacks have been voting Democrat and Southern Whites have been voting Republican. Yes, Perry has had to represent a growing and diverse state but that diversity is only in raw population and not political clout. How else could the state be on the verge of approving a Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plate?