It’s pathetic that Ben Carson, the world-renown neurosurgeon, will say almost anything to preserve his status as a black mouthpiece for the Republican Party.
And now it’s come to this: Carson has trivialized decades of black oppression and distorted the efforts of the nation’s first black president in one mind-numbing sentence.
“I have to tell you Obamacare is, really I think, the worst thing that’s happened in this nation since slavery,” Carson said in a recent speech to the conservative Voter Values Summit.
Say this for Carson: With just 20 words, he dishonors generations of black Americans with his biased revisionist history.
If Carson truly believes his own rhetoric, then he has belittled the most heinous mass persecution of blacks in American history while also failing to comprehend the Affordable Care Act, which is designed to offer health insurance to 40 million Americans who need it, many of whom are black.
It’s a shame that Carson, who is a brilliant brain surgeon, can be so misguided when it comes to the history — and future — of African Americans. Carson, who is black, wields the slavery of black people as an odd illustration to criticize the nation’s first black president.
It’s a twisted sort of logic.
Carson should read the historic legislation of 1865 that abolished slavery in the United States. Maybe then Carson would understand that offering Americans affordable health care cannot in any way be linked to black people being forced to work in the fields of the Deep South under a sweltering sun with limited food and water; black people who were not allowed to learn to read and write; black women who were raped repeatedly; and black men who felt the sting of the lash — and who were murdered — just for speaking out.
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” the amendment to abolish slavery read.
For me, slavery – and the African slave trade – steered me on a spiritual journey through the discovery of a sunken slave ship called the Henrietta Marie.
Thirty feet underwater, I touched the wooden hull of the slave ship, ran my hands through the sand, and held bright-colored glass beads that were used by Europeans to trade for African men, women and children in the late 1600s. I was scuba diving into my past.
In 1993, I was part of a group of black scuba divers that placed a one-ton monument on the wreck site of the Henrietta Marie, which sank off Key West, Florida in 1700. We marked the site to commemorate the African people who died aboard the Henrietta Marie and those who were lost during the Middle Passage.
Today, the monument is the only underwater memorial of its kind in the nation.
A bronze plaque is embedded on the concrete monument. The inscription reads: “Henrietta Marie: In memory and recognition of the courage, pain and suffering of enslaved African people. Speak her name and gently touch the souls of our ancestors.”
Carson, perhaps, will never understand – or articulate – this spiritual link to his African ancestors because he can only use slavery as a warped political tool to attack President Obama. Carson’s inflammatory comments comes as Republicans are desperately trying to court black voters and hoping that Carson’s credible pedigree will resonate with African Americans.
I doubt it. Conjuring slavery to take a cheap shot at Obama’s Affordable Care Act is historically distorted and a slap to black heritage.
Carson has truly sunk to a new low.