Experts, community leaders and commentators alike mostly agree that Ben Carson was not only flat-out wrong in his comments linking gun control to the Holocaust, but that he was ignorantly abhorrent. Carson, originally a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who saved countless lives from debilitation, suffering and death, now remains at the helm of American bigotry.
The point of this opinion piece is not to take sides on the extremely divisive issue of gun control; it is to refute Carson’s disgraceful claims about the Holocaust and its occurrence as a result of the disarmament of Jews, especially German ones. But Carson has not only offended me, but also most notably Jews, the Romani people and the millions others who saw their cultural heritage almost destroyed by the vicious murdering and devastation of groups at the hand of the Nazis in Europe.
You see, Ben Carson once was a hero of mine. In eighth grade, I read his autobiographical account, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” It deeply encouraged me, and oriented me toward embarking on a career in health care and public good. He was truly one of my greatest role models, despite me living in sheltered suburbia in New Jersey—in one of the richest counties in the entire United States by income level at that.
And you would think, from his inspirational story of mobilizing from the slums of Detroit to a prominent medical doctor and innovator, that he would embrace more moderate or even liberal ideologies. Since the time of my reading of his book, though, I see this interpretation as evidently false. His legacy to me and many others, particularly among the African American community, has diminished. In fact I regard him as adversary now; I wouldn’t be surprised if others do too.
Carson has in the past demonstrated explicit homophobia, xenophobia and now, I’d consider, anti-Semitism. I did not take offense as much about the former two, because I am a privileged American citizen who does not feel personally disenfranchised. That is not to say that I found it disconcerting and hurtful to many of my good friends and peers who identify with those groups, though. As a young American Jew who is involved in advocacy efforts and social justice, I of course was personally very hurt by his Holocaust comments.
I’d like to ask Ben Carson in person, look him in the eye and challenge him on his absurd remarks, which lack historical fact. I would go so far as to state that is clear irony. Would he make the same assertions about African American slaves before the Civil War? If they were armed, would they have been able to overcome the American Southern slave owners, their “masters”? How about during Reconstruction after the Civil War and into the Jim Crow era? Would African Americans have been able to gain civil rights via violent revolt and obtaining firearms to achieve this mission? The answer to both of these questions are quite possibly one of the best counter arguments to the point he made. It directly addresses a personal aspect of his life: his ancestral history and race.
Not only do I no longer support Carson, I am profoundly disgusted with him and his appeal to certain blocs of Americans, who feel he is delivering the “right answer,” and that he is fit to serve in the capacity of President of the United States of America. The only real solution to preventing such a hateful individual, who lacks compassion or concern for those he may upset, from ascending to the presidency is to call upon the other GOP opponents and the Republican National Committee to substantially pressure him to suspend his campaign. A leader does not elicit fallacious propaganda to promulgate himself to the national spotlight. Instead he leads by example, unites rather than divides, and remains at least somewhat true to historical fact.
Please, Ben, do the majority of Americans a favor: suspend your campaign, and see if you can ever possibly re-establish your legacy as a doctor who healed so many lives, not disaffected them.
Josh Lehrer is a fourth-year student.