It's 2015 and a black presidential candidate has said that he doesn't want a Muslim president

Ben Carson's remarks aren't just completely ignorant, but also very dangerous

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The Independent Online

Believe it or not, but Ben Carson was once a respected neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Those days are now long gone. Since putting himself forward to be the Republican's nomination for President, he seems determined to define himself as an anti-Muslim bigot.

When asked about the chances of there being a president of Muslim faith from either party, Carson said, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

So far the GOP primary debates have had their fair share of extreme moments. Sometimes they're so extreme they're farcical. But Carson's comments cannot be dismissed lightly. To begin with, they're incredibly ignorant – there is no religious litmus test to hold office in America; if there was it would be an attack on the very constitutional foundation of the country. But they're also dangerous, and will only help inflame the stereotypes of Muslims in America, and the idea held among many (mostly on the right) that they can’t be trusted with power.

Carson’s remarks also betray the current reality. There are already two Muslims serving in the House of Representatives. By all accounts, Rep. Ellison and Rep. Carson serve their constituents honorably. To my knowledge, neither man has made the news for nefarious dealings while in office. Neither man has sponsored bills to bring Sharia law to America. The scaremongering about Muslims in elected office is nothing more red meat to xenophobic Americans.

What's more, Carson has lived his life on the periphery of state-sanctioned racial discrimination. In his autobiography, Gifted Hands, he describes how he felt when he realized he was the victim of lowered academic expectations because his teachers questioned his intellect. In his career, Carson details how lower expectations and doubts were also common, again because of his race. The question must be asked: why does Carson think that racial bigotry is unacceptable, but anti-Muslim bigotry should be tolerated? All forms of discrimination have no place in American culture, society, or politics.

America is supposed to be an idea: this great melting pot of cultures, races, and ethnicities that all contribute to make it better. Carson apparently thinks that some forms of bigotry and discrimination can be acceptable, so long as the person isn’t a Christian of course.

 

What Carson said tells us all we need to know about him, regardless of his impressive past achievements. In a way, we should be thankful that he's clarified this for us. What would have happened if voters actually thought he believed in equality?

His comments amplify an already hostile atmosphere that Muslims must navigate while living in America. It’s not a coincidence that his comments were made a week after Ahmed Mohamed, the black Muslim teen, was arrested in Texas for showcasing ingenuity and creativity. Carson's views on the Presidency are part of a growing and scary anti-Muslim sentiment in America, and when that sentiment bears its poisonous fruit, part of it will belong to Carson.

 

 

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