The far-right arbiters of racial identity

Far-right media personality Laura Ingraham made a curious argument about Herman Cain on her radio show yesterday.

“Well I have a question. Herman Cain, if he became president, he would be the first black president, when you measure it by — because he doesn’t — does he have a white mother, white father, grandparents, no, right? So Herman Cain, he could say that he’s — he’s — he’s the first, uh — he could make the claim to be the first — yeah, the first Main Street black Republican to be the president of the United States. Right? He’s historic too.”

Laura Ingraham has “a question”? Well, I have an answer.

Stop trying to be the arbiter as to who is and isn’t black.

Stop trying to draw a distinction between African Americans who meet an unstated standard for “Main Street black” — whatever that’s supposed to mean — and whatever the alternative might be.

Stop trying to say President Obama isn’t really black because of his white mother.

I mean, really. What possible point could the right have for pursuing this? Why on earth would right-wing, white media personalities feel comfortable designating themselves as the best arbiters of Americans’ racial identity?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.