The Ben Carson I knew is gone

Issac Bailey | 2/25/2016, 1 p.m.
I'm not angry about Dr. Ben Carson's latest comments about President Barack Obama for one reason only; they've instead pushed ...
During a recent press conference in Washington, D.C., Presidential candidate Ben Carson said that he would go after countries that launched cyber attacks America. Photo taken at the 2015 Conservative POlitical Action Conference. (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

I'm not angry about Dr. Ben Carson's latest comments about President Barack Obama for one reason only; they've instead pushed me into a state of mourning as I watch the continued diminishment of a man who had long been a living, breathing icon of Black History Month all by himself.

I no longer even know how to process what Carson has become. Should I celebrate his accomplishments? Or despair over his patented, painful ignorance?

It was bad enough that he suggested to Politico's Glenn Thrush on Saturday that Obama isn't authentically black -- a trope I thought we left in 2008 -- because Obama's upbringing didn't resemble Carson's. It's worse that he also absolved Donald Trump of his naked bigotry.

"I have not witnessed anything that would make me say that about him," Carson responded when Thrush asked if Trump was racist.

Carson talked about not being very observant of such things. Such things as Trump's plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States, Trump's talk of Mexican rapists, Trump's history of inflaming racial tensions in the "Central Park" jogger case even after the five young black men who had been falsely convicted were found innocent -- implying that you find racism only where you expect it, as though the recipient is the cause of discrimination.

Carson wasn't observant enough to know about the Department of Justice's case against Trump in the 1970s for allegedly using a racial code to keep black renters out of his properties: Staff members were told to mark their applications with a "C" for colored.

Carson wasn't observant enough to catch a recent article in The Guardian detailing Trump's history, including this tidbit:

"In February 2000, when Trump was again flirting with a run for the White House, he took out anonymous ads in local upstate New York newspapers, in an effort to shut down a rival casino backed by a group of Native Americans. Beneath a picture of needles and drug paraphernalia, the ad stated: "Are these the new neighbors we want?" It added: "The St. Regis Mohawk Indian record of criminal activity is well documented."

The man who could only muster up an "it's not the tone that I would use" while discussing Trump is the man who compared the signature domestic achievement of the nation's first black president, the Affordable Care Act, to chattel slavery.

On Saturday, he also told Thrush this:

"I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when [Obama] was elected, but ... he didn't grow up like I grew up. ... Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch."

And this:

"They assume because you're black, you have to think a certain way," he said. "And if you don't think that way, you're 'Uncle Tom,' you're worthy of every horrible epithet they can come up with; whereas, if I weren't black, then I would just be a Republican."