WTF, Ben Carson?

Ben Carson continues to leave my jaw agape on a regular basis at the mind-numbingly stupid things he says. Responding to the protests and rioting in Baltimore (which are two different things, by the way), he made this staggeringly inane analogy:

“I recognize that people are angry because they feel that they’re not getting a full explanation of what occurred under suspicious circumstances, but I can speak from experience that reacting out of anger seldom leads to anything helpful,” Carson said. “And these kinds of reactions will only increase the antagonism between police and communities throughout the country and result in militarization and more aggression.”

Later, he used an analogy regarding plumbers to criticize the actions of those who have turned to violence. “If you have an unpleasant experience with a plumber, do you go out and declare a war on all plumbers?” he asked. “Or teachers or doctors? Of course not. And it makes no sense to do that with police either.”

I would bet that if plumbers, doctors or teachers were in the habit of killing young black men in large numbers, there would be a similar reaction. This isn’t about having an “unpleasant experience,” it’s about the pervasive institutional racism in law enforcement that results in blacks being arrested, charged, imprisoned and — yes — killed by the police in numbers that far exceed the population. Blacks use and sell drugs at almost exactly the same rate as whites, yet they’re five or six times more likely to be arrested, charged and put in prison for it.

Blacks are 15% or so of the drivers on the road, but routinely more than 70% of those who are stopped, searched and arrested — despite the fact that whites are significantly more likely to be caught doing something illegal when stopped. Michelle Alexander is right, our criminal justice system has reestablished the Jim Crow system right under our noses and no one seems to notice or care. So yeah, there’s good reason to be angry here. There is real racism here. And people are getting fed up with it. Except Ben Carson. He hides being idiotic analogies to bury his head in the sand.

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  • StevoR

    Here’s a key question – how many people have the rioters killed versus how many African-Americans have the police murdered in recent times?

    Let’s see there’s this :

    Then add Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and so many others.

    Plus questions to those who keep attacking and focusing the rioters :

    Just how many black lives have to be murdered by racist and cruel cops with no justice and no change before you think rioting will be okay?

    Also, what would you have them do if nothing ever happens or gets noticed any other way?

    Plus would you have noticed or cared about the lives lost if the riots hadn’t happened?

    (If no, why not? If yes, then damn well prove it. Its not like it won’t be happening again tomorrow ..)

  • theschwa

    He makes a good point with his perfect analogy. Why don’t these malcontents simply use a different police department?? It is JUST like hiring a plumber. Just use Angie’s list to find a police department with a good reputation and have them patrol your neighborhood.

  • Donnie

    Rhetorical question, Didn’t Ben Carson march in protest with Martin Luther King, jr? I guess that Ben Carson’s unpleasant experiences with services offered by Whites was different.. Must be on of those “Get off of my lawn / back in the days” thing.

  • StevoR

    Also, specifically, lets think compare and contrast what Ben Carson has to be angry about and his experiences with his anger being useless versus what too many African-Americans have to be angry about and what they have been through.

  • colnago80

    I wonder if the good doctor has ever been stopped and questioned by cops while driving while black?

  • cptdoom

    Perhaps it would be good for Carson to note that there were 5 days of peaceful protests against the murderous actions of the cops that the media totally ignored. Sometimes, sadly, property damage is all anyone pays attention to.

  • dingojack

    If you’re a police officer and you have a ‘bad experience’ with a black person, do you go out and arrest black people at a rate 2.6 times higher than other racial groups?

    Well, of course you do!

    (Ben Carson shoots — it’s a spectacular own-goal! The crowd goes wild. @@)


  • scienceavenger

    Note the singular event in Carson’s analogy, and how you are the person being served. He makes it sound like the rioters are pissed because someone made a complaint to the cops and thought they were rude.

    How about having plumbers come over to your house, whether you want them to or not, and sabataging your plumbing over and over and over again Ben? Then your analogy would start bearing some resemblance to the issue at hand.

  • Marcus Ranum

    Did you see that now, apparently, the claim is being advanced that he .. um… killed himself. By throwing himself around in the back of the van probably hoping for settlement money.

    Next they’re going to say that he stole a box of cigars and attacked a cop with it, then head-butted himself to death on the side of the van because they wouldn’t let him shoot himself with a cop’s gun.

  • Marcus Ranum

    Oh, apparently the cops “forgot” they made a stop with the van after they arrested Gray. Presumably they pulled over and parked for a bit while he broke his own neck, and it totes slipped their mind.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I wonder what the good Doctor thinks of the Resistance “rioters” in occupied countries during World War II? Poland, the Low Countries, France, Greece, the Balkans, Korea, …

    Were they also in the “it makes no sense” department?

    If violence was justified in Occupied Europe (or Occupied New England a while back), why is it not justified in Occupied Ferguson or Occupied West Baltimore or … ?

  • tbp1

    Carson is a sad case in so many ways. A man who achieved a great deal against long odds, he has apparently forgotten that he actually did get some help along the way (which does not in any way diminish his accomplishments). He has also fallen prey to the syndrome you find in so many narrowly-focused professionals (especially physicians, it often seems to me): he thinks his expertise in one field somehow translates into expertise in others, when it does not. Finally, having climbed the ladder, he is perfectly willing to pull it up behind himself to prevent others from climbing it

    Not exactly on point here, but how in the world does someone who spent his entire professional life correcting nature’s mistakes become a creationist? He really thinks someone designed those conjoined twins he separated?

  • anubisprime

    Carson is a total dumbass…a classic presentation of the damage and mental crippling that jebus drooling renders…what more can be said?

    I wonder if he was as staggeringly inane when a practicing surgeon, or whether the mental decline was triggered by retirement , boredom and a new found jeebus complex, or is that latter part just a pragmatic claim to gain election?

  • Chiroptera

    D. C. Sessions, #11: I wonder what the good Doctor thinks of the Resistance “rioters” in occupied countries during World War II? Poland, the Low Countries, France, Greece, the Balkans, Korea, …

    What the hell are you talking about, Sessions? Unlike WWII Nazi soldiers, most US police uniforms have American flag patches sewn onto the sleeve. AMERICAN FLAGS!

  • jufulu

    Re Marcus Ranum’s link. I’m beginning to think that in addition to camera’s we ought to add GPS to police vehicles and log the results the way some long distance trucking companies do.

  • theguy

    ““And these kinds of reactions will only increase the antagonism between police and communities throughout the country and result in militarization and more aggression.”

    Because pretending like everything is okay and not protesting or speaking up wouldn’t embolden the police to get away with more crimes?

  • busterggi

    Ah Ben, give it up, no matter how many idiotic dog-whistle comments you make you’re still going to be black.

  • Hoosier X

    Imagine if the police had problems with plumbers. And they harassed the plumbers a lot and pulled them over for no reason all the time and beat them up and killed them. And then the police changed their stories and made up a narrative that made no sense and the media went along with it and reported a lot of nonsensical gibberish from the police as if you’d have to be crazy not to believe it because police.

    Do you think the plumbers would get mad and riot and burn down all the plumber shops in their own plumber neighborhoods? No, they wouldn’t. They would be nice and respectful and they would thank the police for the one time the nice policeman helped the plumber with the flat tire and didn’t murder him in cold blood and try to frame him by throwing a Taser next to his body.

    Take THAT, black people who aren’t Ben Carson!

  • Hoosier X

    Although I must admit I do admire Dr. Carson for his restraint in not comparing the police to Anne Frank.

  • shadow

    IIRC, a reported in Baltimore was saying this “breaking news” conflicts with earlier statements that had Mr. Gray being quiet when the second ‘passenger’ was placed in the van. I think it was on Lawrence O’Donnel’s show (or Chris Hayes’ — MSNBC, anyway).