Gifted hands, less gifted mouth
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” —GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson on NBC’s “Meet the Press” September 20, 2015
Ben, what am I going to do with you? I have no doubt his statement was applauded by many in the base of the Republican Party. In fact, there are reports that Carson’s fundraising picked up substantially after he made the remarks. Appealing to man’s base instincts is unfortunately a winning formula. There will always be those who equate Muslim with terrorist. Of course you won’t find many Americans willing to vote for a violent anti-America radical. But Carson’s statement wasn’t about a terrorist. It was about an adherent to a faith, and that’s what’s troubling.
It astounds me that those who claim religious persecution have no problem with demonizing other religions. In the case of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who refuses to issue same sex marriage licenses, Carson told reporters that this is a “Judeo-Christian nation” and added, “But I don’t actually believe that they (gays) have the right to force their way of life upon everybody else. Nor would I try to force my way of life upon everybody else.” It’s crazy that someone so brilliant in one area can’t see that by denying equal rights to gays he is forcing his way of life upon them.
After the expected backlash on the Muslim president question, Carson amended his remarks saying, “If someone has a Muslim background and they’re willing to reject those tenets (Sharia Law) and to accept the way of life that we have and clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion … I would then be quite willing to support them.”
A reporter should ask Carson what is Sharia Law? All Muslims don’t agree on it. Some Muslim-majority countries have laws based on Sharia Law while other countries relegate Sharia Law to just family courts. There are still other Muslim-majority nations that have secular laws. Sharia Law covers such a broad spectrum of how Muslims live their faith.
What would Ben Carson and his supporters think if a presidential candidate said, “I would not advocate that we put a Christian in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that”? One wonders what Carson would think if a candidate said “If someone has a Christian background and they’re willing to reject those tenets and to accept the way of life that we have and clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion … I would then be quite willing to support them.” And if Carson is willing to place the U.S. Constitution above his Christianity, then how come he isn’t telling Kim Davis to comply with U.S. law?
I know plenty of Christians and I know that a good many of them would have a hard time saying the Bible should be beneath the U.S. Constitution. Can Carson say that?
Now if Ben Carson the voter wouldn’t vote for a Muslim then that’s his right. When you go into the polling booth you’re free to vote for or against someone by any criteria you set. If you don’t want to vote for someone because they’re black, Hispanic, a woman, a conservative, a liberal, or they’re vegan, there are no thought police that are going to come in and prevent you from doing so. The old trope that voters want to elect someone they could “see themselves having a beer with” is tired but people are free to use that silly criteria.
But Ben Carson isn’t in a bar chatting with friends, he’s a man running to be the leader of the free world. He wants a position where loose chatter can sink financial markets, erode confidence among allies, fray relations with acquaintance nations and embolden our enemies.
We walk a tightrope. We’re battling radical Islamic terrorism while at the same time trying to reassure our Muslim allies that we’re not targeting their religion. George W. Bush gets criticized for a lot of things (most justified) but he tried to maintain that balance the same as President Obama has. The next president, Democrat or Republican, will have to try to maintain that balance to bring more Muslim-majority countries to our side and not push them towards radicalism.
This type of discrimination isn’t new. There were many who wouldn’t support John F. Kennedy because he was Catholic and they feared a U.S. presidency being under the thumb of the Vatican. On September 12, 1960 Kennedy gave a powerful speech condemning religious intolerance and stating:
“That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of presidency in which I believe — a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group, nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”
Ben Carson does indeed have gifted hands. Now only if he had a gifted mouth to go along with it.