June 18, 2019 | 68° F

EDITORIAL: Ben Carson should have held his tongue

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development’s words are troubling


Ben Carson recently stepped out into his official position as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Part of his job description is providing assistance for those with low-incomes, aiding in the creation of fair housing laws, handling homelessness, mandating house ownership and most importantly, as the name implies, overseeing housing development. Many people (for  the right reasons) felt as though Carson was not fit for this position. Besides the fact that Carson was a neurosurgeon, he has previously voiced his beliefs that the government cannot be of much assistance to those in need. He even stated that trusting the government in issues of low-income assistance is “downright dangerous.” To make things more unsettling, Carson himself, although growing up in poverty, had never lived in public housing or had governmental assistance for housing. To top it all off, Carson has publicly said he feels that poverty is “really more of a choice.” But this is relatively old news now, and just as most of the nation suggests we do with President Donald J. Trump, perhaps giving Carson a chance and considering his present actions rather than his past ones is the way to go about the situation. Except, Carson’s recent actions are no better. In fact, his words while speaking to HUD employees might be even worse.

While perhaps attempting to boost the morale of the company, Carson spoke about his views of America and praised its "can-do" attitude. However, after speaking about America being a land of opportunity, Carson said, “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

Carson’s words are so problematic that it is shocking.

Although it is white people who make up a majority of the population that receive governmental assistance (the white population of America is generally larger than any other race), a larger percentage of the black population receives this assistance. About 42 percent of the black population in America is part of some governmental assistance program, and within this, 14 percent of the black population uses public housing as this assistance. Carson is supposed to ensure that the governmental department that handles assistance that a significant percentage of black people are utilizing is beneficial, but rather than being a champion for the needs of the black population, as well as other minorities, Carson is instead playing into the very ideas that are dangerous to the perception of these minority groups.

Slaves, or those who “came here in the bottom of slave ships,” were not immigrants. Immigrants are those who travel to another place by choice, for chances of a better life or for other similar circumstances. Slaves were forced to come to America and were abused beyond belief. And to say that these were people who “worked for less” is completely unprecedented. Slaves did not work for anything. They worked because they were forced to, and a majority of slaves were treated worse than animals. It is beyond any level of understanding why Carson would ever choose a narrative about slavery to try and paint a positive picture for America.

The problem with Carson, as well as those who share similar watered-down views of slavery, is that they are contributing to the downplaying of the needs of the black community. If they can find a way to “soften” slavery, then it is difficult to believe that they would be able to find problems within the HUD Department — and that is a scary prediction for Carson’s future career in the White House.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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