Ben Carson’s Ignorance Of History Comes Home To Roost
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Two and a half years ago, Irregular Times wrote that “Ben Carson’s historical illiteracy shows him to lack the fundamental competence we need”. This comment came in response to an historically inaccurate, anachronistic depiction of the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812 – a minor skirmish that Carson retold with completely fictional flourishes and exaggerations. It was the kind of performance that has become a staple of Ben Carson’s political career, distorting actual history into a simplistic morality tale that just so happens to support Ben Carson’s personal prejudices.
Today, however, Ben Carson outdid himself. Speaking before an audience of employees of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, on his very first day as its Secretary, Carson started to tell one of his breathy tales of right wing revisionist history. This particular humbug history, though, took a very dark turn. Carson declared, “That’s what America is all about – a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, and worked even longer, even harder, for less, but they too had a dream that one day, their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
The basics of the history of slavery really aren’t difficult to get right. Taking people prisoner and then selling them as objects to do forced labor for their entire lives and to be tortured at their owners’ whim is wrong. People don’t like being enslaved. Slavery is not the same thing as voluntary immigration. Slaves captured in Africa and forced to endure terrible ordeals while traveling to America didn’t look forward to their arrival with hope. They didn’t see America as a land of opportunity and dreams. They knew that their children, and their children for generations, would be torn apart from their families with no control over the course of their own lives. Slavery is the opposite of prosperity and happiness.
Any child who has learned American history understands these things. Ben Carson, however, does not. His historical distortions go beyond mere ignorance into cruel delusions.
It is beyond comprehension that a Cabinet official, one of the most powerful people in the Executive Branch of the U.S. federal government would choose to spread such toxic tales of how lucky Africans were to be enslaved by Americans.
No one who spreads such sadistic lies can be trusted by the American people. If Ben Carson is willing to declare on the opening day of his new job that slavery was a great path of dreams, opportunity, prosperity, and happiness, it’s difficult to imagine that he would ever take a stand against any cruel abuses of power. It’s easy to believe that Carson might even inflict them himself.
If Ben Carson ever had any credibility as a public figure, it is now gone.
If the Trump Administration defends Carson, and justifies his embrace of slavery, then the entire White House will become tainted with this scandal.
If he has any decency, Ben Carson will resign.