Dr. Ben Carson experienced the fury of the ever-vigilant social media cohort when on Monday he described slaves brought to this country in shackles as immigrants.
Celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg also reacted negatively, as did the NAACP and other organizations.
The new U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary and former 2016 GOP presidential hopeful alluded to other immigrants “who came here in the bottom of slave ships” in an extemporaneous address to HUD employees in Washington which was also broadcast to agency employees in offices across the country.
After weeks of stalling by the Democrats, the retired brain surgeon was finally confirmed for the job in President Trump’s cabinet on March 2. Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Carson later that day.
A HUD spokesman subsequently denied that Secretary Carson was conflating voluntary immigration with involuntary servitude in his remarks.
In a Op-Ed in The Hill on Tuesday, longtime Carson advisor Armstrong Williams asserted that the secretary had no intention of offending anyone and that his remarks were meant “to shine a light on the values and aspirations that we share.” Carson’s speech culminated in a standing ovation from HUD staffers, Williams added.
It turns out that former President Barack Obama offered similar commentary about slaves as immigrants on at least two occasions, but apparently without any controversy whatsoever.
In a December 2015 teleprompter speech at a naturalization ceremony, the ex-POTUS, a Democrat, mentioned a similar comparison, according to multiple news agencies such as USA Today, in what was first revealed by Breitbart News. See clip embedded below.
“Life in America was not always easy. It wasn’t always easy for new immigrants. Certainly it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life…”
Instead of Carson-level condemnation, however, Obama’s remarks “received widespread and fulsome praise,” Investor’s Business Daily noted.
Obama also compared slaves to immigrants in a 2012 naturalization ceremony when he declared that “We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande,” the Daily Caller chronicled.
The former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital who grew up in very modest circumstances, Carson shot to overnight national prominence in February 2013 when he criticized Obamacare and other Barack Obama policies as well as political correctness with the president sitting two seats away during the event. His speech also called for more personal responsibility rather than government dependency.
In October 2013, Carson revealed to Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor that he was audited by the IRS for the first time in his life.
In a Facebook clarification on Monday evening, Dr. Carson wrote, in part, that “The slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences…The two experiences should never be intertwined, nor forgotten, as we demand the necessary progress towards an America that’s inclusive and provides access to equal opportunity for all.”
“In our view, calling slaves immigrants is idiotic, no matter who says it, and no matter in what context…But to all those now viciously attacking Carson, we’d ask: Why were you silent — or worse, signing praises — when the president of the United States said basically the same thing a year and a half ago?,” Investor’s Business Daily concluded about what could be an example of selective outrage.
[Featured Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]