by David A. Love
With his cold and callous attack on Muslim Americans, Ben Carson is competing with Donald Trump for the xenophobic, Islamophobic, white supremacist vote.
This is a shameful way for a black man to conduct himself, though it is par for the course when you’re running for president in the Republican primaries.
The neurosurgeon turned presidential candidate created a firestorm on NBC’s Meet The Press this past Sunday when Chuck Todd asked Carson if one’s faith should matter to voters. Carson responded, “Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is.”
When Todd asked him to clarify if he thinks Islam is “consistent with the Constitution,” Carson said, “No, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”
Carson isn’t backing down from his comments, although he offered, in a backhanded way, that he can support a Muslim who renounces their faith and denounces Sharia law. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, has called on Carson to drop out of the race. “Mr. Carson clearly does not understand or care about the Constitution, which states that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office,’” said Nihad Awad, CAIR National Executive Director. “We call on our nation’s political leaders – across the political spectrum – to repudiate these unconstitutional and un-American statements and for Mr. Carson to withdraw from the presidential race.”
How hypocritical for people such as Carson to claim to support “religious liberty” when they really had no one else but Christians in mind. Carson, Trump and others are able to get away with this because of the widespread Islamophobia in this country, conditions which would cause a 14-year-old Sudanese-American science geek to be whisked away in handcuffs for bringing a homemade clock to school.
And besides, the Republican base likes it that way. For Birthers in the age of Obama, the word “Muslim” has served as a stand in for the n-word, the “other,” the “foreigner” and the “un-American” president himself. This, in a nation where some disaffected whites — uneasy about the increasing amount of color they are witnessing in America – want their country back, and restored to its original whiteness. That Carson would stoop so low as to do the bidding of white supremacists tells us how far that party has gone off the deep end.
Ben Carson spits in the face of millions of Muslim Americans as he tells this community they are not American enough to lead the nation. In effect, he is calling them the enemy and proclaiming that they do not belong here, that they need not apply. Also worth noting is that while all people should be offended by the doctor’s statements, Carson also offends a third or so of Muslim Americans who are also African-American. I immediately think of beloved members of our community such as Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul Jabbar — who said that if Isis is representative of Islam, then the Klan is representative of Christianity. And I think of Reps. Keith Ellison and André Carson, respected members of Congress.
Most of all, when I think of the legacy of African-American Muslims, I think of one of my heroes, a fallen leader named Malcolm X. Malcolm would have had choice words for Carson, who, along with Donald Trump, has assumed the mantle of Islamophobia for the rabid white base of the Republican Party:
When the master would be sick, the house Negro identified himself so much with his master he’d say, “What’s the matter boss, we sick?” His master’s pain was his pain. And it hurt him more for his master to be sick than for him to be sick himself. When the house started burning down, that type of Negro would fight harder to put the master’s house out than the master himself would.
It seems Ben Carson was biding his time before he made his infamous Muslim comment. As candidates such as Rick Perry and Scott Walker fall by the wayside, Carson has found a new purpose in order to gain recognition, but at the expense of the Muslim community. He is a big disappointment.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove