On Monday morning, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, referred to slaves as immigrants who came to America in the bottom of ships—yet wanting a better way of life, during his address to HUD. Ben Carson’s remarks show either his ignorance of history or that he has sold his soul to Donald Trump for a cabinet position as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I suspect the latter.
Ironically, the Dred Scott decision was decided on March 6, 1857, some 160 years to the day that Carson made his outrageous statements about slaves being immigrants. Dred Scott went to court to sue for his freedom. Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney wrote in the decision that blacks, free or slaves had no rights which the white man was bound to recognize. Slaves were involuntarily brought to America from various African countries, taken away from their families to work for free in America. They were not immigrants—they were property with no rights
Before whites descended upon West Africa, many Africans were wealthy, could speak several languages and conducted business with Europeans—traveling to European countries. A visit to the African American Smithsonian museum is in order for Mr. Carson. Everything was taken away from my ancestors once they were ripped away from their countries and taken across the ocean to build this country. Their culture, religion, money, property, language, name and family were taken away as they became slaves and property of whites in America. Slaves were sold and treated as less than animals to build the country that we now call the United States of America. Slaves built this country on their backs. And they were not immigrants.
Ben Carson has become like that family relative at holiday dinners who makes outrageous comments that no one believes while others try to convince him of his lack of knowledge. But Carson is not that family member. He is a highly educated, trained and world renowned neurosurgeon who appears to have lost his mind, his soul or both. And his words matter.
Carson further reminds me of all the major characters in the Wizard of Oz. The tin man lacks a heart; the cowardly lion lacks courage. And the scarecrow lacks a brain. Ben Carson lacks all three. He lacks the intelligence to know that he is being played a fool by a rich old white man named Donald Trump. I doubt that Carson does not know his statements are false. And therefore social media online comments that he needs to read up on history are probably not necessary.
Ben Carson has become a true Trump spokesperson—someone who prides himself or herself on “alternative facts” as Kellyanne Conway refers to which are otherwise known as lies. A lie by any other name is still a lie.
And Mr. Carson’s assertion that slaves were immigrants is a lie.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former Baltimore prosecutor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from University of Pennsylvania.
Update: Later on Monday evening Mr. Carson on Facebook stated: “Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and forced against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders,” he wrote. “The Immigrants made the choice to come to America. They saw this country as a land of opportunity. In contrast, slaves were forced here against their will and lost all their opportunities. We continue to live with that legacy.”