Roger Simon: Ben Carson goes down the GOP Muslim-bashing road

SHARE Roger Simon: Ben Carson goes down the GOP Muslim-bashing road

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center, Tuesday in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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Ben Carson has said he does not want a Muslim in the White House because Muslims cannot be trusted. Their religion does not fit “within the realm of America,” and Islam is not “consistent with the Constitution,” Carson said.

Carson was surprised when this caused a fuss.

His assertions were bigoted and ignorant, but bigoted and ignorant have been playing well in the Republican Party this year.

OPINION Follow @politicoroger

Donald Trump insults Mexicans, and he quadruples his standing in the polls. He insults POWs and women, and he still sits atop the polls.

“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct,” Trump sneers. “I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness.”

Bigotry, hatred, bullying? Hey, they are your problem, buddy, not his.

So Carson sees an opportunity. Politically incorrect campaigning may be a good thing. You can stir the pot without getting burned.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is, frankly, not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. At best, he comes across as a fatherly doctor type, a nonpolitician, an outsider who presents a fresh perspective.

At worst, he is kind of a dunderhead. He does not believe in evolution; he thinks that climate change is “irrelevant” and says Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

Also, Carson has a shaky understanding of the U.S. Constitution. He believes, for instance, it is perfectly OK to impose a religious test on candidates for president to determine whether their religion is consistent with “our,” which is to say his, principles.

Yet the Constitution expressly forbids religious tests. Article 6 of the Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Yet Carson told The Hill on Sunday that presidents should be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Quran.”

“We are a different kind of nation,” Carson says. “Part of why we rose so quickly is because we wouldn’t allow our values or principles to be supplanted because we were going to be politically correct.”

What on earth is that supposed to mean? Is Carson saying we rose quickly as a nation because we slaughtered Native Americans and stole their land instead of being politically correct?

Carson couldn’t be saying that our Founding Fathers ignored “political correctness” when it came to religious liberty.

In fact, they went out of their way to be politically correct on that subject. (It was slavery that they punted on.)

The founders easily could have put a sentence in the Constitution stating that only Christians can become president. Just about everybody in the Colonies was a Christian of one variety or another.

But the framers of the Constitution did the opposite, following the example of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which stated that no man would “suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief.”

Jefferson wrote that the act embraced, “within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan (Muslim), the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.”

On Monday, Carson tried to calm things by saying he had been misunderstood. Muslims, Carson said, would be acceptable as president just as long as “they embrace American values and they place our Constitution at the top level, above their religious beliefs.”

But how will they do that? Swear an oath written in blood? Go on Colbert, Fallon and Kimmel and invoke the ultimate “cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye” vow?

In any case, such an oath — specifically rejected by the Constitution — still would go only so far in mollifying Carson. The candidate could become president. But he or she would still go to hell.

Carson said moderate Muslim candidates who denounce radical Islam to meet his standards “will be considered infidels and heretics, but at least then” he “will be quite willing to support them.”

Infidels? Heretics? These are the concepts Carson now wants to introduce into the political conversation? It almost makes one long for Trump.

Earlier this year, Carson was invited to speak at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting. He withdrew, however, after some objected to the fact he is a Seventh-day Adventist.

As Talking Points Memo reported, Texas pastor Bart Barber wrote in a blog post: “Southern Baptists have classified Seventh-Day Adventists not as a church but as a sect. We have stopped short of anathematizing them, but we have identified aspects of their beliefs that are sub-Christian and harmful.”

Anathematizing? Sub-Christian? We are going to add this to the conversation, too?

Oh, my. It seems that Ben Carson’s climb to the presidency has turned into a slippery slope.


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