In his debut address to employees of HUD, which he now heads, Ben Carson spoke about the "can-do" spirit of the immigrants that built American society. He spoke about the value system of the immigrants who helped build our nation. Then he said that value system was also exemplified by "other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less."
What Carson was trying to portray was that even slaves had a "can-do" attitude to overcome hardships and realize their dreams. Yes, this African-American famed neurosurgeon, inspirational lecturer and author actually talked about slaves realizing their dreams here in America.
Not surprisingly, like many of Carson's sayings, it did not go over well. He has a way of taking a good idea and presenting it in a ludicrous way that distracts from the meaning he's intending.
He later tried to clarify, differentiating between "voluntary immigrants" and "involuntary immigrants." The "slave narrative and the immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences," he declared. Well, duh. Ya think?
It's good to get that cleared up. Some Africans were kidnapped and brought involuntarily to America. Two hundred years, and multiple generations later, some of their descendants achieved great things. Is that what he meant? Not the slaves themselves, but their great-great-great-grandchildren -- like Carson, himself -- living in our time could realize their dreams.
For example, as Michelle Obama so much more elegantly put it, upon moving into the White House: Her ancestors built this house, as slaves. And now she was to preside over it as First Lady.
Carson would like us to think of this as a cheery success story -- instead of the crime against humanity that it really is. No amount of success by their descendants can, or should be allowed to, erase the shameful fact of slavery carried out by our white ancestors.
Yes, we've come a long way from slavery; but we do not yet have full equality in fact -- or even in spirit. Our last election seems to be a big step backward in achieving that goal.