The opposition to critical race theory (CRT) from Republicans and right-wing extremists alike has been well-documented, but conservative lapdog Ben Carson recently went above and beyond the call of his partisan duty by not only comparing advocates of the academic movement to “animals” but also downplaying slavery in the U.S., all while having the audacity to invoke the good name of civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It was at once a masterful display of shameless defense of the same white supremacist ideals Carson upheld as a member of the cabinet of a consensus racist President Donald Trump. But it was also further evidence that even the most scientific of minds that have achieved unthinkable medical miracles still, somehow, cannot grasp the basic logic of including CRT into schools’ curriculums.
Carson underscored that apparent ignorance during a recent interview with “Just The News,” an online news show hosted by John Solomon, a veteran journalist for conservative media outlets who was also spouting anti-CRT rhetoric in extreme terms that harped on the politics of [white] fear.
After hearing from an esteemed panel of white supremacy-sympathizing CRT opponents, Solomon passed Carson the sunken baton to run the anchor leg of the race to under-educate students in America.
Carson called CRT “a philosophy in education curriculum that robs young generations of their futures,” even though he didn’t bother to back up his claim with any proof.
Instead, he quoted Vladimir Lenin, the Russian Marxist and communist leader, to suggest — again, without proof — that children “can be taught the right thing or the wrong thing but it sticks with them for life.”
Carson said he worried that Black kids would be taught they are “a victim” and used his own unique experiences as a child as purported blanket evidence that individuals determine how successful they’ll be, not “some environment.”
He also said he was concerned about how it feels for a young, white kid taught CRT “being told that you’re evil.”
But then, he went there.
“This is child abuse quite frankly,” Carson concluded illogically before turning then moment into a transphobic digression: “Then if that’s not enough, you may not be a girl or a boy,” he quipped while sharing a chuckle with Solomon.
“I just think what we’re doing to these children is abominable,” Carson added.
To be sure, the topic of critical race theory got an outsized amount of attention after then-President Donald Trump ilast year directed federal agencies to stop anti-bias training that cites white privilege.
“I ended it because it’s racist,” Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace at the time.
Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the founders of critical race theory, explained the concept to TIME last year.
It’s “a practice—a way of seeing how the fiction of race has been transformed into concrete racial inequities,” said Crenshaw, who is also a co-founder of the African American Policy Forum. “It’s an approach to grappling with a history of white supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it.”
None of those longstanding facts stopped Carson from criticizing students’ mothers, fathers and guardians who haven’t voiced their disapproval of CRT.
“I’m so proud of the parents who have stood up for what is right here because what those who want to fundamentally change our country anticipate is that people will just stay in the corner and put their heads down while somebody calls them names,” Carson said, laughing again. “That doesn’t work. You cannot be that land of the free if you’re not the home of the brave.”
Carson then turned his attention to the 1619 Project, the Pulitzer Prize Award-winning essay that was part of a larger package marking the 400th anniversary of when the first African slaves were brought to the U.S. in an effort to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative,” according to the New York Times, which published the long-form journalism in 2019.
Carson suggested that Nikole Hanah-Jones, who is responsible for the 1619 Project, is among the “people who came along and tried to hijack the system.”
Downplaying slavery in the U.S., Carson suggested that the racist and inhumane trafficking in bondage wasn’t as big of a deal because everybody was doing it.
“The 1619 project is trying to center everything around slavery and make people think there is something unique about America and something uniquely evil,” Carson said before conflating a flawed conservative talking point.
“There are actually more slaves right now in America than there were in 1863,” Carson said without citing any data. Instead, he said he was talking about “sexual slaves” and human trafficking.
“The only thing that is really unique about America is that we were willing to fight a civil war and lose a substantial portion of our population to stop it,” Carson said in a bit of revisionist history.
Conveniently, Carson and his American Cornerstone Institute, a conservative nonprofit he founded, are coming out with a book about “the real history of America,” he said. “We want to teach the true history and people will be very proud to be Americans.”
When Solomon called CRT “a new form of racism,” Carson couldn’t have agreed more and pointed to the “progress” that America has made, pointing to the election of Barack Obama as president for proof.
That prompted him to begin his unfortunate zoological metaphor.
“To say that we’re not making progress is absolutely ostrich-like – sticking your head in a hole,” Carson said before invoking MLK’s name: “we also need to emphasize the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King was absolutely right. We want a society in which we judge people not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character.”
Building off of that inaccurate reading of King’s words, Carson dug deep into his neurological bag to suggest CRT proponents are not human.
“People have these big frontal lobes so we can analyze,” Carson said while noting that humans are the only creatures with such brain features. “Why should we act like animals? We can do so much better than that.”