Ben Carson spent last week — to paraphrase Kipling — hearing his words twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools.
This time it was over guns.
Here’s how the deal went down:
On October 6, Carson appeared on the Fox News morning show Fox and Friends. Most of the segment was devoted to a discussion of gun control and the massacre at Umpqua Community College near Rosenberg, Oregon — where nine students were shot to death by a gunman who first asked each of the victims to state their religion and then shot the ones who said they were Christians.
At about four-and-a-half minutes into the interview one of the Fox and Friends hostesses put up a picture showing Carson holding a hand-lettered sign reading “I AM A CHRISTIAN” and bearing the Christian fish symbol, which she said had gone viral.
She then asked Carson to “explain that.”
“Well you know the poor families of those individuals had to be hurting so badly — and the fact that I believe that this nation has Judeo-Christian roots,” he said.
“Why are we so busy trying to give those away for the sake of political correctness?” he continued. “When you give away your identity, you give away your soul. And you know, in the book of Proverbs it says, ‘Without a vision, the people perish.’ (Prov 29:18) We can’t give away who we are, and what we stand for, and what our vision is.”
At this point host Brian Kilmede broke in and said, “Dr. Carson, if a gunman walks up and puts (sic) a gun at you and says, ‘What religion are you?’ That is the ultimate test of your faith?”
Carson responded, “I’m glad you asked that question, because not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’”
Carson’s detractors in the media, the gun control movement and the Democratic Party instantly began the knavery.
They accused him of blaming the victims for not doing more to protect themselves and of being “insensitive” to the feelings of the victims’ families and the surviving victims.
Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, described by the Guardian newspaper’s website as a network of anti-gun groups, offered a particularly vivid (and shrill) example of the knavery, which the Guardian gleefully printed.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years now, and those were some of the ugliest comments that I’ve ever heard,” he told the Guardian, adding that Carson “basically blamed the victims for their own deaths” and added to the pain of the victims’ families.
“His suggesting that if he had been there, he could have taken the shooter down through the power of Christ or somehow, it’s just unbelievable,” Everitt told the Guardian. “You begin to question this man’s mental health, doing this with a smile on his face and thinking it’s acceptable.”
Just my opinion, but when you compare what Carson actually said with how Everitt characterized it, it’s Brother Everitt who needs a mental health check. And a hearing check.
Carson was asked two direct questions, and he answered both directly.
The first was to explain why he was holding up a sign reading “I am a Christian.” His answer was he did it in order to show solidarity with and give comfort to the families of the victims and to affirm his support for the Judeo- Christian values on which the country was founded — accompanied by a warning of the dangers of abandoning them in the name of political correctness.
The answer to this question selfevidently is not that of a man who is either indifferent or insensitive to the feelings of the victims’ families. It’s quite the opposite.
Unsurprisingly, few if any of Carson’s leftist media critics included the question about the sign and Carson’s answer to it in their reports, probably because it blows up their “insensitivity” narrative.
The second question Carson was asked was how would he respond if someone aimed a gun at him and demanded to know his religion (by implication as a prelude to killing him if he answered Christian). The question was about how would he — Carson — respond. It was not about how the victims in the Roseburg massacre, or any similar massacre, should have responded, although the media knaves spun it that way.
Carson’s response to the question — that he would not cooperate with the gunman and would urge the potential victims to fight back — isn’t blaming the victims. Saying you choose not to be a victim is not the same thing as blaming the victims, and the knaves know it.
Just my opinion, but I think the reporters and commentators who characterized Carson’s response as blaming the victims are guilty of journalistic malpractice and fraud. Or more plainly, they’re lying about what he said for partisan political purposes.
I suspect Carson’s answer of how to respond to a gunman intent on mass murder — fight back by attacking the gunman and urging the others to do so — reflects the views of most Americans.
Which is why I have a question for all of the media scolds who have been upbraiding Carson and presume to offer moral instruction to both him and the American people.
It’s a variant of the question Carson was asked: If a gunman walks into the press club, pulls out a gun and shoots a couple of your pals to show that he is serious, and then asks, ‘What religion are you?’ with the intent of killing you if you give the wrong answer, what would you do?
Would you answer truthfully and die a martyr? Would you lie to save your life — and feel dirty for the rest of it?
Would you fight back? Would you urge your companions to join you in swarming the gunman, knowing that you might die for leading by example?
Or would you just stand there, paralyzed by fear waiting to die, because you never thought through how you would respond if you came face to face with evil?
And finally, do you have the professional integrity and personal character even to attempt a serious answer to the question?
Enquiring minds want to know.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.