Now we know for sure that education is no hedge against mindblowing irrational thinking. Our proof? None other than Dr. Ben Carson, highly trained pediatric neurosurgeon, man of science, leading GOP presidential contender and batsh*t crazy Bible-thumper in the first degree.
Last week, the soft-spoken former doctor, continuing a surge begun in late summer, closed the gap with longstanding frontrunner Donald Trump. Carson accomplished this feat after weeks (nay, months, years!) of spewing what can only be regarded as stupefying nonsense, including last week’s argument at the Values Voter Summit that a blatantly unconstitutional religious test be administered to Muslims seeking office in order to protect the Constitution. Denying global warming while in drought-stricken, wildfire-plagued California and denying police racism while in Ferguson, Mo. were other recent feats of the nimble neurosurgeon’s intellect. And all of these statements seem to have helped him among the base, where it seems nuttiness exists in direct proportion to popularity. It seems that a scientist who denies science and a black man who denies the existence of racism is catnip for these voters.
So, in honor of Carson’s surge in the polls, here are some of his greatest hits:
1. Gayness must be a choice, because prisoners who are raped come out gay.
Like any generic homophobe, Carson has no problem repeating tired falsehoods about how legalized gay marriage will lead to bestiality and pedophila. But he got some points for originality when he told Chris Cuomo in an interview that homosexuality was absolutely a choice "[b]ecause a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight— and when they come out, they're gay."
Cuomo’s jaw dropped long enough for Carson to add: "So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."
This could absolutely take the cake for comedic idiocy, if only homophobic violence and prison rape were not horrific real-life problems.
What it proves is that Carson will say anything. And that, even when it comes to medical science—the preponderance of which indicates that homosexuality is not a choice—the doctor is out.
2. Obamacare is worse than slavery. We live in a Gestapo age.
Carson earns a lot of conservative love for his harsh criticism of Obama. A black man maligning the first black president is practically orgasmic for these folks. After uttering both of the above provocations, he doubled down on them in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, accusing everyone of going into a “tizzy” because he used the slavery and Nazi analogies. Here’s Carson claiming his comparisons were apt:
Nazi Germany experienced something horrible. The people in Nazi Germany largely didn't believe in what Hitler was doing. But they didn't say anything? Of course not, they kept their mouth shut. The fact that our government is using instruments of government like the IRS to punish its opponents, this is not the kind of thing that is a Democrat or a Republican issue. This is an American issue ... A lot of people do not feel free to express themselves.
Which people are those, exactly? Not sure. Certainly, the Gestapo has not been able silence him. And on the slavery analogy:
Slavery was a horrible thing and affected many people in horrible ways, some of those effects still present today. So, no, it is not the same as slavery. However, what needs to be understood here is that the way this country was set up, the people—we the people were set up at the pinnacle of power in this nation. The government is supposed to conform to our will. By taking the most important thing you have, your health and your health care, and turning that over to the government, you fundamentally shift the power, a huge chunk of it, from the people to the government.
Never mind that the people’s will is to have health care. Details, details.
The point is, Dr. Ben Carson should be able to use whatever crazy analogy he wants in order to get people’s attention, and he should not be subjected to some random truth-telling standard. Because, Hitler.
3. The Big Bang is a “fairy tale” and the notion of evolution was encouraged by the devil.
There is no more telling evidence that the “man of science” in the Republican race not only cherry-picks his science to gel with his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, but denies the most basic science out there. While there is no word yet on whether Carson believes in gravity, it’s worth quoting Carson’s insane Big Bang ramblings at some length:
I find the Big Bang really quite fascinating. I mean, here you have all these highfalutin scientists and they're saying it was this gigantic explosion and everything came into perfect order. Now these are the same scientists that go around touting the second law of thermodynamics, which is entropy, which says that things move toward a state of disorganization. So now you're gonna have this big explosion and everything becomes perfectly organized and when you ask them about it they say, 'Well we can explain this, based on probability theory because if there's enough big explosions, over a long period of time, billions and billions of years, one of them will be the perfect explosion.' ... So I say what you're telling me is if I blow a hurricane through a junkyard enough times over billions and billions of years, eventually after one of those hurricanes there will be a 747 fully loaded and ready to fly. (Carson adds that the Big Bang is "even more ridiculous" because there is order to the universe.) Well, I mean, it's even more ridiculous than that 'cause our solar system, not to mention the universe outside of that, is extraordinarily well organized, to the point where we can predict 70 years away when a comet is coming. Now that type of organization to just come out of an explosion? I mean, you want to talk about fairy tales, that is amazing.
Later in the interview, Carson said he personally believed Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was encouraged by the devil.
As Charles Pierce wrote in Esquire: “What in the name of Edwin Hubble is this man talking about? Why is this man allowed out in public without a handler?"
4. There’s no war on women; there may be a war on women’s insides.
In a speech on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock this summer, Carson took on the notion that Republicans are waging a war on women, saying: "They tell you that there’s a war on women. There is no war on women. There may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country."
It was a mystifying piece of rhetoric that remains unexplained to this day. Just what part of women’s insides is there a war on? And why is that even remotely an OK thing to say, let alone condone?
No clue. It was not the only insanity of that speech, during which he called slaves immigrants who “came here involuntarily in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”
5. Nope, I don’t see any global warming.
Unlike other conservative ideologues, Carson does not exactly deny climate change, and he certainly does not use the tired line “I’m not a scientist,” because technically he is. What he does say is that global climate change is “irrelevant.” Irrelevant to what, we’re not sure. He just thinks, unlike most scientists, that it’s not manmade, and “there’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on.” He also thinks discussion of what to do about climate change is a distraction. From what? Again, unclear. Maybe, he suggested, the EPA and how it over-regulates things.
Carson stayed true to this devil-may-care attitude about the environment on a recent jaunt to California in the midst of one of its worst droughts and most horrific wildfires in recent history. He just did not see that as climate change. And if he does not see it, it isn’t there.
6. Nope, I don’t see any racism.
Add racism to the ever-growing list of realities that Carson does not see. On a trip to Ferguson, Mo. this summer, Carson did not see racism. Never mind that whole Department of Justice report detailing chronic systemic racist policing in Ferguson. Not to mention a black community that has been starved of resources and services.
Rather than racism, Carson pitched the problem in Ferguson—and everywhere else black people suffer disproportionately—as one of education and respect. “Education is the great divide,” Carson said. “Children need to understand that they have to get a good education.”
So, to sum up, racism which does not exist is not to blame. Children, who do exist, are.
7. Planned Parenthood is a plot to kill black babies.
With this statement, Carson placed himself solidly in the Alex Jones insane conspiracy theory camp. He also called Planned Parenthood a bigger threat to black people than racism. We are running out of adjectives. Bonkers, insane, batsh*t crazy, certifiable… all seem inadequate to the task. A portion of Carson’s comments about Planned Parenthood:
…one of the reasons that you find most of their clinics in black neighborhoods is so that you can find way to control that population. And I think people should go back and read about Margaret Sanger, who founded this place — a woman who Hillary Clinton by the way says she admires. Look and see what many people in Nazi Germany thought about her.
Note how he cleverly worked in another 'Nazi Germany' reference. No need to shout when you can always use the dog whistle.