Dr. Ben Carson proves himself an unfit candidate for President of the United States

"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that." That's what Dr. Ben Carson said on Meet The Press. 

So, our Muslim citizens are lesser citizens as far as he's concerned. If Carson becomes President, how many other ways will he say that Muslims should be treated differently by American law? Require loyalty oaths? Having their votes counted as 3/5 of a vote? Separate water fountains? Making them ride in the back of buses?

What's his rationale? 

He was asked whether a candidate's religion should be a deciding factor to voters. "If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem." That of course led to a followup question as to whether he believes Islam is consistent with the Constitution. "No, I don't -- I do not."

What other religions might fit this description? Would Catholicism qualify because the ultimate Catholic authority is not American? Would Carson feel apprehensive about a Catholic President because of the political views of the current Pope? We've been here before. When John F. Kennedy ran for President, there was speculation about "Vatican gunboats on the Potomac." 

How about Jews? Should we start assuming what the UCLA student council assumed earlier this year about a Jewish student nominated for the judicial board: that she couldn't be objective enough because she's Jewish? 

Quakers? After all, they're pacifists. Wouldn't it be dangerous to put an adherent to a pacifistic religion in the White House? We've had a Quaker in the White House. His name was Richard Nixon.

Carson is assuming three things, all of them wrong. The first is that adherents to religions who run for President won't make the responsibilities of the office their priority. 

The second is that any given religion is so monolithic that you can assume you understand what the religion universally advocates. In the Muslim example, Carson assumes that the extremist strains of Islam represent all of Islam. We've already dealt with that issue with the Ground Zero Mosque. Imam Rauf, the Sufi Imam who was behind the Mosque (which wasn't really a mosque at all but a community center) has written that Sharia is closer to American law than the law of most Middle Eastern countries. 

The third is that any given religion inherently interferes with national loyalty. If you go to American military cemeteries, along with the crosses and the stars of David, you'll see Crescents. Those are for Muslim Americans in our armed services who gave their lives for this country, and whose sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families were just deeply insulted by Dr. Carson. Incidentally, their sacrifices on behalf of our country are certainly greater than his. This insult is reminiscent of Donald Trump's dismissiveness about the military service of John McCain. 

Let's go back to Dr. Carson's rationale: "If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter.  But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem." Dr. Carson's statement is absolutely inconsistent with the values and principles of America and with the Constitution, which is adamantly against any religion taking priority, including whatever his is over Islam. 

Dr. Carson is unfit to serve as President of the United States by his own standard: His views are inconsistent with the values and principles of America and with the Constitution. 



9/22 update
Dr. Carson has been questioned further on this and has stood his ground. He now says that he would be willing to consider a Muslim candidate who denounced Islamic extremism. In other words, he's asking for something similar to a loyalty oath.

No candidate who is OK with Islamic extremism or any other kind of extremism would be acceptable to the American public, Muslim or not. Putting extra requirements on candidates of a certain faith is inherently unconstitutional. This is not a principle America can afford to fool with. 

It's not like I'd vote for Dr. Carson anyway, and I'm not concerned with getting rid of him for tactical reasons because I don't think he has a shot to begin with, but I think there are certain baselines all candidates need to respect and one of them is a commitment to uphold the Constitution, being as they swear to that in the Oath of Office. Dr. Carson has already blatantly violated that. If he can't support the Constitution as a candidate, we have ample reason to expect the same failure if he were to be elected. 

 

Views: 256

Comment by Zanelle on September 20, 2015 at 7:45pm

He shot himself in the foot for sure.  Religion.  I want to see Bernie Sanders be the first Jewish President.  That would be awesome.  In the end it is the stand on issues that matter that I like about Bernie...his being Jewish is just the cherry on top.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on September 20, 2015 at 7:49pm

Hoisted on his own petard.  R&L ;-)

Comment by koshersalaami on September 20, 2015 at 8:07pm

Zanelle, I agree on both counts, including limiting my liking our shared background to the status of cherry. 

He worries me in one respect, and this is just my own personal oft-expressed obsession:
While he seems to be the only candidate who understands the extent to which changing income/wealth polarization is necessary, I think he may be limiting his sales pitch too much and that limitation reduces the reach of his message. He talks about how this is an affront to justice (which it is, a huge one) but it is also an enormous threat to our economy and, by extension, to the future political, economic, and military power of the United States. There are a lot of people on the right, including here on Our Salon, whose notion of justice is very different than ours and who find Social Darwinism to be more just than Bernie's alternative, but those people tend to care deeply about American power. As such, it makes more sense to make our case in terms they care about rather than just in terms we care about. That's the salesman in me: When you sell something new, the question you're ultimately answering is What will this fix? If your potential customer cares enough about the problem, is convinced that what you're selling addresses that problem, is convinced that your solution is cost-effective, and remembers that you had the conversation when it comes time to make such decisions, you get a sale. (This isn't a list I read; it's just me figuring out conditions in my head based on my own experience. I don't think I've ever come up with that list before.) We start with the first condition; in this case, there are a lot of people who don't define the justice problem as a problem, making them unreachable with that case. However, that case is not the only case available, and therein lies the biggest political mistake. 

JMac,
I think so, though I'm not sure how many will do anything other can decrying bigotry in a generalized way. My guess is that most won't notice that his own petard blew up. 

Comment by nerd cred on September 20, 2015 at 11:42pm

Up on his petard, too, because he's demonstrated his absence of knowledge &/or understanding of the constitution he'd be required to swear to uphold and defend and support. That's kind of a basic thing, isn't it?

From Article 6:but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Comment by nerd cred on September 20, 2015 at 11:44pm

The ignorance of a Republican combined with the arrogance of a surgeon - a very dangerous combination 

Comment by koshersalaami on September 21, 2015 at 4:29am
Well put
Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on September 21, 2015 at 4:48am

I suppose I didn't need to hear him get this foolish to know he was unfit...the more desperate a number of these imbliks become, the more inane their sputterings will sound.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on September 21, 2015 at 4:51am

When someone, btw, tells me how, how, not why, Mr Sanders can win a single southern Democratic primary, then I'll look at the candidacy w more openness.

Comment by Julie Johnson on September 21, 2015 at 5:02am

Y'all are crazy.  Your minds are so open, your brains have fallen out.  

Comment by koshersalaami on September 21, 2015 at 7:11am
Elaborate

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