Ben Carson: Screen Syrian Refugees Like They’re ‘Rabid Dogs’
Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson compared Syrian refugees fleeing from civil war to dogs, saying that if elected he would carefully screen migrants in order to root out “mad dogs.”
Speaking at a Thursday campaign event in Mobile, Alabama, the retired neurosurgeon, who trails only Donald Trump among the more than dozen GOP candidates, said this about the Syrian refugee situation:
“We must always balance safety against just being a humanitarian. For instance, if there’s a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way.
Doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking: ‘How do I protect my children? At the same time, I love dogs and I’m going to call the Humane Society and hopefully they can come and take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.’
By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly, who are the people who want to come in here and hurt us and want to destroy us.”
In Muslim culture, calling someone a dog is a serious insult. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), blasted Carson’s comments as “unconscionable” and said they demonstrate a “complete disregard” for Muslims.
“It really is unconscionable that he would stoop to such levels in smearing people who are fleeing violence and oppression, seeking a better life. Something he, himself, would do if put in the same circumstances,” Hooper said, according to Reuters.
Carson appeared undaunted on Friday.
“There are people who are radical jihadists and they want to destroy us, and we do not want to expose our people to those,” Carson said in New Hampshire in an attempt to explain his “rabid dog” remarks. “Though we may love all the other people from Syria, if they incorporate some of these radical jihadists who want to destroy us, we have to first use our brain. So like I said, bring the kid in and make sure they don’t get attacked.”
Carson also endorsed at least part of a highly controversial plan backed by GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump to register all Muslims in the United States in a government database. Carson said supports a database for “everybody who comes into this country.”
“Hopefully, we already have a database on every citizen who is already here,” Carson said at the New Hampshire State House in Concord, where he officially filed for that state’s presidential primary. “If we don’t, we are doing a very poor job.”
However, Carson drew the line at singling out Muslims for special registration.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to treat anybody differently,” Carson said. “You know, one of the hallmarks of America is that we treat everybody the same. So if we’re just going to pick out a particular group of people based on their religion, based on their race, based on some other type of thing, that’s setting a dangerous precedent.”
Carson said that if elected, he would look for evidence of radicalization before singling out particular mosques or Muslim organizations for government scrutiny.
“I favor doing whatever we have to do to protect the American people,” he said. “This is what we have to put on the top shelf: protection of our people. If in fact there are mosques where there’s a lot of activity going on that’s radicalizing people, then they should be treated differently.”
There has been a palpable ratcheting up of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States in the wake of last week’s Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people were killed by Islamist radicals at multiple venues throughout the French capital. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the horrific attacks. In addition to Carson’s “rabid dogs” comment and Trump’s refusal to rule out a special registry and IDs for Muslims, a Republican state lawmaker in Rhode Island has called Islam a religion of “rape and murder” and said she supports the internment of Muslim refugees in segregated internment camps. The mayor of Roanoke, Virginia also sparked outrage by citing the internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II as justification for rejecting Syrian refugees.