For some reason, CNN decided it would be a good idea to invite Ben Carson on its Sunday morning news show to wax decidedly unpoetic about a variety of topics that, of course, was bereft of any real substance. The unqualified secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spoke about everything from the ongoing protests to the NFL‘s national anthem kneeling protest controversy to his beloved leader, President Donald Trump.
But Carson arguably saved his most outrageous commentary when the discussion turned to the topic of systemic racism, which he downplayed in a concerning way that might even make Candace Owens blush. (Emphasis on “might.”)
Carson urged people to give Trump a second chance to react to George Floyd‘s horrific police homicide in Minneapolis. The president infamously retweeted an interview when the decidedly anti-Black Owens defended the now-fired cop who killed Floyd, who was handcuffed and unarmed when Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck with deadly levels of pressure. In the interview, host Glenn Beck also pointed to Floyd’s criminal history almost as a way to blame him for his own death that a medical examiner ruled as a homicide.
Despite the obvious anti-Black dog-whistling amplified by Trump’s retweet, Carson was willing to give Trump a pass, again.
“I believe you’re going to be hearing from the President this week on this topic in some detail,” Carson told Jake Tapper on his “State of the Union” show. “And I would ask you maybe to reserve judgment until after that time.”
Not to be outdone, Carson, not necessarily known as an emissary of Black culture, let alone understanding it, weighed in on the kneeling protest against police violence. Carson’s comments came a couple of days after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, admitted he was wrong for opposing kneeling and misunderstanding its purpose — a revelation apparently achieved only after Floyd’s death weeks ago even though a laundry list of other unarmed Black people have been brutally killed since Colin Kaepernick was excommunicated from the NFL for pioneering the protest.
In what failed to be the “aha” moment he probably expected it to be, Carson explained to Tapper that there would be no controversy with the kneeling protest if the Black players participating would simply profess their love for the United States of America. Carson seemed to be proud of himself for making such a statement that the Kaepernick and the other players have established from Day 1 of the silent kneeling protest years ago.
When the topic turned to systemic racism in law enforcement, though, Carson’s comments were truly astonishing.
“I grew up at a time when there was real systemic racism,” Carson told Tapper while stressing the word “real” in a suggestion that downplayed the verified existence of lasting racial bias within law enforcement.
For proof of his claim, Carson pointed to an incident in middle school where he said a teacher “berated” the other students for not performing as well as the only Black kid in the class. Carson did admit that there are some “rogue” cops but wouldn’t attribute their deadly actions to racism. He never once mentioned the routine delay in arrests (if any) and acquittals for cops who kill Black people in the HUD secretary’s inaccurate attempt at revising history.
If you’re just learning that Carson doesn’t believe racism is really a thing in 2020, you haven’t been paying attention. Earlier this year, he introduced a plan to re-segregate public housing in America and weaken enforcement of fair housing laws. Carson and HUD have been doing their damnedest to roll back the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and an Obama-era rule that helped people to sue against unfair practices in housing.
So really, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Carson is saying all of this in the wake of passionate nationwide protests pushing back against the white supremacy the HUD secretary has pledged allegiance to.
This is America.