Ben Carson is Getting Away with Incendiary Rhetoric
The Republican Party, aka the "White Party", is a lonely place for an African American. The Democratic Party is the home of the blacks and other minorities. Democratic presidential candidates are guaranteed 90 percent of African American support. Over 95 percent of African Americans voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
The nomenclature designating African Americans has undergone repeated changes. Up until the 1940s, they were referred to as "Negroes." In the 1950s, they were "Coloreds." In the 1960s, they became "Blacks." Around 1980, Rev. Jesse Jackson pointed out that, while every other group was known by their country of origin (e.g. Italian Americans, Irish Americans, Mexican Americans and Japanese Americans), only the blacks were referred to by their colour. He introduced the term African Americans for Americans who came from African countries.
As with their nomenclature, their politics also changed over time. From the 1860s to the 1930s, blacks belonged to the Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, their emancipator. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" which included projects and programmes to get Americans back to work during the Great Depression, and Social Security for the retired, began the process of weaning the blacks away from the Republican Party towards the Democratic Party. President Lyndon B. Johnson completed the process by enacting the "Great Society" domestic programmes such as Medicare, Medicaid and Older American Act, and fair housing, Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act that specifically benefited the blacks.
In response, Republican Richard M. Nixon adopted the "Southern Strategy", which sent subliminal, racially charged dog whistle messages to white southern Democrats to entice them away from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. That process was completed by President Ronald Reagan, who cynically kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign near Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three young civil rights workers – James Chaney (who was black), Andrew Goodman and Michael Schemer (who were Jewish) were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. White Democrats who followed Reagan into the Republican Party are known as "Reagan Democrats."
The only way an African American "alien" can succeed in the Republican Party is by saying things which the Republican base wants said, but would destroy a white candidate if he said it. This is the role that the soft-spoken retired African American neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, a political novice, has accepted with aplomb.
Here are some of Carson's diabolical comments about President Obama: 1) "Obama is a psychopath"; 2) "Obamacare is the worst thing that has happened in this country since slavery"; 3) "Not sure there will even be an election in 2016" (Obama will cancel the elections and stay on); 4) (under Obama) "We live in a Gestapo age"; 5) "Obama may be guilty of treason." If front runner Donald Trump or any other white Republican candidate had said all this, his candidacy would have ended right then and there. But, Carson gets a free pass. Carson's attack on President Obama is akin to a slave praising slavery. Because Carson is doing the Republican base's dirty work, he is being consistently rewarded with a second place finish in the polls (around 18 percent).
Carson continued to feed red meat to the Republican base by saying that a Muslim American President would be unacceptable to him. Reminded that the US constitution has no religious test for the presidency, Carson doubled down by stressing that a Muslim American president would be acceptable to him only if he renounced the Qur'an! He then went on to "explain" that a Muslim is bound by his religion to apply Sharia law to any job he holds, and something incomprehensible about kafir. It was nauseating to listen to Carson pass off his utter ignorance of Islam as his expertise!
Carson then waded into another controversy by suggesting that gun control in Germany was partly responsible for the Holocaust. If the Jews had guns, Holocaust could have been avoided, he argued. This drew a sharp rebuke from the Anti Defamation League who reminded Carson that it was Nazism, and not the lack of Jewish guns that was responsible for the Holocaust. Jews did acquire and use guns in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, only to be massacred by the Nazis. Fully armed Czech, Polish and French armies also fell to the Nazis.
In an attempt to endear himself further to the Republican base for whom gun ownership is sacrosanct, Carson seemed to accuse the victims of the recent Oregon community college shooting of "cooperating" with the shooter by not charging him, as he would have done. This drew sharp response from survivors who said that Carson had no idea how it was to face an armed mass murderer.
Carson recounted an event in a Baltimore Popeyes (chicken) restaurant thirty years ago when a gunman held a gun to his ribs. Did Carson charge the gunman? No, he calmly said, "I think you want the person behind the counter." That Carson calmly redirected the gunman towards the helpless cashier drew charges of hypocrisy and cowardice. Besides, Carson's story does not add up. Baltimore police said they had no record of robbery at a Popeyes restaurant at that time. Further, Carson is supposedly a vegetarian. What was he doing in a chicken joint?
Carson's claim of being a good neurosurgeon has also come under scrutiny. It turns out that several medical malpractice lawsuits had been filed against him. One patient, a Caucasian young women, came forward, called Carson a liar who ruined her life. According to the woman, her family begged Carson to surgically remove only the diseased portion of her brain, and no more. Carson ignored their plea, took out the whole section, leaving the young woman partially paralysed and disfigured.
Dr. Ben Carson has pandered his soul away in order to be the president, which he will never be. In the process, he has revealed himself as not only a crackpot, but also as an intolerant, ignorant bigot.
The writer is a Rhodes Scholar.