Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson believes that slavery, when framed in just the right way, is a tale of dreaming big and working hard — like a demented version of "Hamilton."
Speaking for the first time in front of HUD employees, Carson called enslaved African people — that is, humans who were forcibly taken from their homelands, shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in inhumane conditions, and then purchased and sold as property — as an example of America being "a land of dreams and opportunity."
Carson, who once mused that the Egyptian pyramids may have stored grain, started his controversial statements by saying, "You can't overload the human brain." But then he tried.
"That's what America is about, a land of dreams and 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 message seems to be that, no matter how hard you have worked, someone had once worked harder for less — because they were enslaved. At least we think that was the message?
Perhaps Ben Carson was dreaming big himself — did he have a flash of inspiration for "the next 'Hamilton'" when he wrote these remarks? The opening could go a little something like this:
How does an immigrant, enslaved, locked in the bottom of a slave ship
dropped in a godforsaken spot on a plantation
owned by a governor, in squalor
work for less than the free others even longer, even harder?