By Justin Sink - 10/11/11 03:02 PM EDT
“As far as Harry Belafonte's comment, look, I left the Democratic plantation a long time ago. And all that they try to do when someone like me — and I'm not the only black person out there that shares these conservative views — the only tactic that they have to try and intimidate me and shut me up is to call me names, and this sort of thing. It just simply won't work," Cain said.
The "Democratic plantation" metaphor was employed earlier this year by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a freshman Tea Party congressman and member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). "So you have this 21st-century plantation that has been out there where the Democratic Party has forever taken the black community for granted and you have established certain black leaders who are nothing more than the overseers of the plantation and now the black people on that plantation are upset because they've been disregarded, disrespected and their concerns are not cared about," West said on Fox.
"So I'm here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad away from that plantation and to a sense of sensibility."
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), herself a member of the CBC, quickly denounced the comments as "a little bit ridiculous" and "hard to respond to," embroiling the summer recess in dueling charges of misappropriating racially charged language. West later doubled down on his remarks, issuing a statement that equated slavery to welfare programs.
"Today in the black community, we see individuals who are either wedded to a subsistence check or an employment check. Democrat physical enslavement has now become liberal economic enslavement, which is just as horrible," West said.
Cain also blasted Princeton Professor Cornel West, who earlier Monday said that Cain needed to "get off the symbolic crack pipe and acknowledge the evidence" that racism continues to be a significant problem in America.
"That's the difference between someone who has spent their life in academia and someone who has spent their life in the real world. I've been in the real world. He's been in academia. So he's back on this symbolic stuff ... Professor West has been in academia too long. He is out of touch with the real world,” Cain said.
Cain, who has been surging in the polls, has found himself repeatedly embroiled in questions of race in the past week, after initially denouncing the name of Rick Perry's hunting ranch — which for a time included a racial epithet — as insensitive. After backlash from conservative bloggers, Cain backed off the criticism, insisting that he was not playing the "race card" and that he did not think Perry was racist. Cain also has repeatedly referred to black voters as "brainwashed" into voting for Democrats, saying that those unwilling to consider his platform weren't "savable."