Ben Carson’s campaign is a game of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but for slavery and the Holocaust

It’s like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but for historical atrocities. Give Ben Carson any conservative pet issue, and he can tie it back to slavery or the Holocaust in less than six moves.

Case in point:

In an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday, prompted with the questions of “Does life begin at conception?” and “What if somebody has an unwanted pregnancy?” Carson was able to make it back to slavery in only two moves:

At first, Carson blamed the “purveyors of division” — whoever they might be — for tricking women into thinking that they have a right to decide what to do with their bodies, telling Chuck Todd that:

The mother should not believe that the baby is her enemy and should not be looking to terminate the baby…We’ve allowed purveyors of division to think that baby is their enemy and they have a right to kill it. Can you see how perverted that line of thinking is?

But when Todd followed up with the not-so-hypothetical question of what happens when someone has a pregnancy that they do not want or are ready for — is it okay to terminate the pregnancy then? — Carson pressed on:

Think about this. During slavery — and I know that one of those words you’re not supposed to say — but I’m saying it. During slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave, anything that they chose to do. And what if the abolitionists had said, “You know, I don’t believe in slavery, I think it’s wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do,” Where would we be?

Ben Carson, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Ben Carson, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Carson then went on to outline his preference for a no-exceptions ban on abortion, stating that he would like to see Roe v Wade overturned and that “I’m a reasonable person. And if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, [I’ll listen].” When presented with the traditional hypotheticals by Todd — rape, incest, life and health of the mother — Carson barely budged, conceding only that he would be willing to “discuss” whether the life of the mother is an acceptable cause for terminating a pregnancy.

That last line from Carson was yet another iteration of his “I’m reasonable, so riddle me this” style of answer to questions about social issues on which Carson is to the far right of most of his already-reactionary opponents in the Republican primary. It’s convenient in that it allows Carson to claim to be open to reasonable discussion while at the same time dismissing any attempts at reasonable discussion. Do that in a soft enough tone, and you’re the nicest insane person in the field.

Carson’s comments came just one day after a new Des Moines Register poll showed him leading in Iowa, but that Republican voters were skeptical of him on two fronts: his lack of foreign policy experience and — ah, that’s right — the medical research he conducted using aborted fetuses.

But you know, I’m a reasonable person. If Ben Carson can explain to me why using aborted fetuses for research was okay for him, but aborting those fetuses in the first place was a mortal sin, I’ll listen.

(h/t RawStory)


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Carson is going to tie abortion to slavery? How about the far more appropriate comparison of forced pregnancy to slavery? As in the enslavement of women and women’s bodies as compelled gestational vessels with no rights to personal autonomy for as long as a woman is fertile.

    In Carson’s world, if you get pregnant — even if it’s through rape — you have no choice but to endure the pregnancy itself and childbirth, and all of the health and life risks associated with it. Your body belongs to the State. And once the baby is born, you might have to contend with your rapist suing for child visitation rights. That is, of course, assuming you didn’t miscarry or something, because again in Carson’s world what matters is that fetus — miscarry and the State might charge you with a crime.

    Problem pregnancy? Pre-eclampsia? Need chemo because you have cancer? Well, too bad, because Carson’s government is only willing to “discuss” whether you deserve to live.

    Oh wait, there’s a good chance if you’re poor, you don’t get to see a doctor either, because Carson says Obamacare is the same thing as slavery, too.

    Let’s recast that remark from Carson in more accurate terms:

    For much of history, a lot of men thought they had the right to do whatever they wanted to women, anything that they chose to do. And what if the feminists and equal rights activists had said, “You know, I don’t believe men should own women, I think it’s wrong.” Where would we be?

    We’d be in a much better world. Seriously, the guy is absolutely bug-shit insane and I don’t know why more people aren’t pointing this out.

    I’m beginning to wonder if Carson channeled his inner psycho-sociopath into neurosurgery the same way Hannibal Lecter channeled his into psychiatry.

  • mf_roe

    The briar patch is exactly what this is about. Carson thrives on this insanity because his flock literally thrives on the delusions that he so willingly provides. That the media keeps feeding him straight lines just lets him sling red meat to the hordes of true believers. Ultimately its a waste of time, the “Lifers” are steadfast—-but they are also a minority. Carson would need more than just the “Lifers”, among those others are the racial bigots without whose support a repug electoral majority is a problem. Carson want last. The repugs having to put up a black man to counter Obama’s success is beyond their ability.

  • The_Fixer

    Well, how about “thinking with his gastrointestinal tract”? Because we can plainly see that he’s not thinking with whatever brain he once had.

  • 2karmanot

    “already past its prime,” Well, I have heard that a possum’s gotta hang upside down in the cooling house at least a week before ya make a stew. Maybe Dr. Crackpot is thinking gastronomically.

  • 2karmanot

    Has he brought up the briar patch yet, or is that being saved for the big guns?

  • The_Fixer

    If people can come up with a reasonable explanation…

    No, his brain has a short circuit that will not allow him to listen. Chuck Todd came up with the usual reasons why someone would want an abortion, and he did not listen. Case closed.

    Carson is another right-wing idealist who is trying to use the same old rhetoric (“killing babies”) and shows the same old inflexibility. I really think that he is dangerously out of step with the majority of people in this country, and will not win anything in a major election year that has Democratic voters charged and Independents/undecided voters waking up and saying “WTF?”

    He may think that he’s being clever in bringing up slavery and the Nazis, but that tactic, already past its prime, will not bear any fruition. The average, non-insane voter will take a pass on him. I expect that this little bump in the Iowa polls will not last very long. If he was able to overtake Trump, who was thought to be uncatchable last week, how long will Droopy Dog last?

    Now who will be the next featured player on the Clown Bus of Destiny®? Next!

  • Indigo

    Fascinating, isn’t it? All I get out of the Carson story is that his supporters are . . . confused.

  • nicho

    I am starting to see vehicles with Carson stickers. I really want to follow these people and ask them “WTF?” How does anyone see this guy as being even remotely desirable as dogcatcher — never mind president?

  • Ol’ Hippy

    ??!!&*%$# WTF? I just don’t know how to interpret this level of incompetence. This man sometimes just doesn’t make sense and I’m stuck on how he continues to be taken seriously. I guess the only thing he can really do is brain surgery, though I don’t know if I would use his services personally.

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