It’s been about a week since Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson appeared on “Meet the Press” and said that Muslim Americans, regardless of any other consideration, should be disqualified from the presidency. In the days that followed, the retired neurosurgeon has, at different times, insisted he “meant exactly what I said” while also falsely claiming he was taken out of context.
Yesterday, CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Carson for an explanation. The back and forth between them went on for a while, but it culminated in this exchange.
TAPPER: I think one of the things is just you are a member of a church that there’s a lot of misinformation about, the Seventh Day Adventist church. You know what it’s like for people to make false assumptions about you. And you seem to be doing the same thing with Muslims.CARSON: In which way am I making a false assumption?TAPPER: You’re assuming that Muslim-Americans put their religion ahead of the country.CARSON: I’m assuming that if you accept all the tenets of Islam that you would have a very difficult time abiding under the Constitution of the United States.
TPM noted that it was around this point that a Carson adviser intervened and ended the interview.
In case that wasn’t quite enough, Carson sat down with ABC’s Martha Raddatz and offered up this gem in defense of anti-Muslim discrimination:
“[R]ight now, when you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions, and a host of things that are not compatible with our Constitution, why in fact would you take that chance?”
In an ironic twist, in the same interview, Carson defended his criticism of “the women’s lib movement” as being bad for U.S. families. He’s also a fierce critic of LGBT rights and supports subjugating Muslim Americans.
As for why in the world Carson would continue to stick to such an indefensible posture, note that the far-right candidate believes the controversy is extremely beneficial – not only in impressing the GOP base, but also in boosting campaign fundraising.
As we talked about last week, it’s an unsettling standard for propriety and decency. As the argument goes, intolerance is acceptable among candidates for national office – even if the prejudice targets a group of Americans – if the message strikes a chord with intolerant voters.
In other words, don’t expect Carson to move closer to the American mainstream anytime soon.