Ben Carson On History: The War Of 1812 Was Fought Over Words Written In 1892
Dr. Ben Carson has no experience in government. He has never been elected to a single public office.
Ben Carson’s lack of experience doesn’t in itself disqualify him from the Presidency, of course. Carson could make up for his inexperience by demonstrating a command of information and ideas relevant to the office of President of the United States – a familiarity with American history, for example.
Unfortunately, Ben Carson appears to be ignorant of the most basic facts of American history.
At the end of his rambling, incoherent political speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, Carson told a version of the origin of the national anthem, written by Francis Scott Key, who observed part of the bombardment of Fort McHenry.
Carson said to the audience, “Bombs bursting in air, missiles, so much debris, he strained to see. Was the flag still there? He couldn’t see a thing. All night long, he couldn’t. At the crack of dawn, he ran out to the banister, and he looked, straining his eyes, but all he could see was dust and debris, and then there was a clearing, and he beheld the most beautiful sight he had ever seen: The torn and tattered stars and stripes, still waving, and many historians say that was the turning point in the War of 1812. We went on to win that war, and to retain our freedom, and if you had gone to the grounds of Fort McHenry that day you would have seen at the base of that flag the bodies of soldiers who took turns propping up that flag. They would not let that flag go down, because they believed in what that flag symbolized. And what did it symbolize? One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
It’s an inspiring story. It’s also almost completely bogus.
The United States didn’t win the War of 1812. It was a draw. The Americans were unable to keep the lands in Canada they attempted to succeed. The antagonistic British practices that had, in part, provoked the war, also continued as before.
There wasn’t a pile of dead bodies of American soldiers at the bottom of the flag pole in Fort McHenry. Only four Americans in the entire fort died that night, and the British ships were mostly unharmed as well. The cannons of two sides were simply too far away from each other to be very effective. Besides that, the flagpole at Fort McHenry was too thick and heavy to have been held up by American soldiers.
Ben Carson’s suggestion that the soldiers in Fort McHenry saw the flag there as a symbol of the the Pledge of Allegiance, with the words “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” is particularly astonishing. The Pledge of Allegiance was not written until 1892, and the words “under God” were not inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950s. The idea that soldiers during the War of 1812 would have ever even heard the words “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” is absurd.
Ben Carson seems to have replaced genuine American history with a form of vague mythology, in an incoherent attempt to justify his right wing ideology. His understanding of our nation’s political foundations seems to be no more sophisticated than the tales told to children around the campfire at Boy Scout meetings.
In order to serve effectively as President of the United States, a person needs to have command over basic facts. In the context of his complete lack of experience in elected office, Ben Carson’s historical illiteracy shows him to lack the fundamental competence we need in the Oval Office.