Ben Carson: Slaves Were ‘Immigrants’ in ‘Land of Dreams and Opportunity’
Newly-confirmed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson made his agency debut by calling slaves “immigrants” whose hard work and aspirations for freedom proved that the United States really is “a land of dreams and opportunity.”
USA Today reports Carson’s eyebrow- and ire-raising comments came during a speech to department employees on Monday morning. “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson, the 65-year-old retired neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate, said. “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, 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.”
Twitter reaction was swift and stinging:
“Ben Carson just referred to slaves as ‘immigrants,'” tweeted Mekita Rivas. “And apparently this guy is a brilliant neurosurgeon?!??”
“Ben Carson must be a better brain surgeon then we imagined, to have removed his own brain,” tweeted Duchess of M.
“Historians confirm Pyramids in Egypt not used to store grain, but to hold Ben Carson’s very large amount of stupid,” added JeffreyFeldman.
“It’s crystal clear where Dr. Ben Carson got his doctorate from… Trump University! #doctorNoFacts” quipped Ervis Topalli.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson has been retweeted more than 10,000 times after posting, “OK!! Ben Carson… I can’t! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAFUKKA PLEASE!!!#dickheadedtom”
Carson was confirmed as HUD secretary last week by the Senate in a 58-41 vote despite having no experience in housing policy or in any aspect of government. Shortly after abandoning his own presidential bid in early March 2016, he became an early supporter of Donald Trump, calling the then-dark horse presidential candidate “a very intelligent man” last March. Trump, in turn, said Carson had “a brilliant mind.”
This isn’t the first time Carson has made spurious or inflammatory remarks about slavery. In 2013, he opined that the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Carson added that Obamacare “is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health.”
He also compared abortion to slavery during his failed 2016 presidential campaign. “During slavery — and I know that’s one of those words you’re not supposed to say, but I’m saying it — during slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to the slave,” Carson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in October 2015. “What if the abolitionists had said, ‘I don’t believe in slavery, I think it’s wrong, but you guys do whatever you want to do?’”
Carson’s gaffe follows last week’s stunningly false assertion by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that historically black colleges and universities were “pioneers of school choice” — in reality, such institutions of higher learning were born directly from the racist Jim Crow segregation laws barring blacks and whites from attending the same schools.