Ben Carson started the day suggesting the use of “sodium amytal” could be a substitute for torture in interrogations. He ended the day coming in fifth in the Nevada caucuses, finishing with under 4% of the vote, but nevertheless telling supporters, “Things are starting to happen here.”
If by “things,” Carson meant “embarrassing defeats,” then sure.
And in between the two surprising quotes, the Republican presidential hopeful also managed to say something even more ridiculous about President Obama and the African-American experience.
“He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white,” he told a Politico podcast. “I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but … he didn’t grow up like I grew up … Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.”He continued on MSNBC Tuesday, speaking from Nevada ahead of tonight’s caucus: “The fact of the matter is he did not grow up in black America, he grew up in white America, doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that when the claim is made that he represents the black experience, it’s just not true.”
I can appreciate why Carson’s odd beliefs don’t warrant much scrutiny anymore. He’s technically still a candidate, but after last-place finishes in South Carolina and Nevada, there is no credible scenario in which the retired neurosurgeon wins the GOP nomination. It’s not a question of whether his campaign will end in failure, but rather, when.
That said, Carson’s “raised white” nonsense deserves a rebuke independent of the status of his candidacy.
Janell Ross’ response to the comments in the Washington Post rang true.
There is something fundamentally odd about Carson’s assertion that Obama was raised white, because it contains within it the insinuation that there is only one way to be black or experience blackness. There is only one way to be raised black. It strongly suggests that Carson believes that is directly connected to the racial identity of one’s caregivers, the racial makeup of one’s school and surroundings and the socioeconomic experiences that, in this country, remain closely but not absolutely linked to race.
For what it’s worth, Carson appeared on CNN late in the day, saying in reference to the president, “I wasn’t criticizing him. Excuse me, but that’s you guys in the news media who are trying to make it into a fight. I’m just stating the obvious facts.”
“Obvious facts” such as the notion that Obama was “raised white”? Please.